The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
For the better part of two months this summer, a group of 11- and 12-year-olds captured Madison County’s hearts.
The Riverfield Little League Softball All-Stars went on a tournament run for the ages, first capturing the state championship and then claiming the Central Region crown in Indianapolis.
That punched the team’s ticket to Portland, Ore., for the Little League Softball World Series.
There Riverfield went 3-1 in pool play — beating Oregon, the Netherlands and Mexico — to advance to the semifinal round.
The girls lost to New Mexico in the semifinals in a game televised nationally on ESPN2. The next night Hawaii also dropped Riverfield in the consolation game, leaving the local all-stars with a solid fourth-place finish.
In 21 games during the all-star season, Riverfield was never shut out. And its amazing postseason run ranks as the top sports story covered by The Herald Bulletin sports staff in 2012.
“It was a great experience,” Riverfield head coach Tim Landes told THB after the final loss in Portland. “I’m not sad at all. These girls gave me every ounce of energy they had. Fourth in the world is pretty doggone good. Way I see it, it took the top three teams in the world to beat us.”
No. 2 — The saga of the Indianapolis Colts
INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Polian and Jim Caldwell were fired in January following a 2-14 season. Peyton Manning was released in March. Andrew Luck was selected with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft in April, and a young team came together quickly during training camp at Anderson University in August. In October, the Colts were rocked by the news of head coach Chuck Pagano’s diagnosis with leukemia. The team then won nine of 12 games under interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and clinched an unlikely playoff berth with a win against the Kansas City Chiefs last week. Pagano returns to the sideline today at Lucas Oil Stadium, and Indianapolis unbelievably will start 2013 with a postseason game.
No. 3 — AHS’ Morgan Nadaline continues to shine
ANDERSON — The Anderson High School junior made her third consecutive IHSAA state finals appearance this fall after claiming the Indiana Golf Association’s Girls Junior state championship over the summer. Nadaline also earned her second straight honor as the IGA’s Girls Junior Golfer of the Year.
No. 4 — A boys basketball season for the ages
Frankton and Liberty Christian won sectional championships for the first time in school history, and Pendleton Heights ended the regular season ranked No. 2 in Class 4A. All three teams eventually fell on the same Saturday in the regional round, but the fun wasn’t quite done. PH’s Kellen Dunham was named to the Indiana All-Star team, played in an exhibition game on his home court and helped sweep Kentucky in the annual series.
No. 5 — AU softball riding high
ANDERSON — The Ravens posted a 32-12 overall record and made their second straight trip to the NCAA Div. III Regionals. But the most impressive aspect of the campaign was Anderson’s complete domination of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. AU rolled to the regular season and tournament titles without missing a single game.
No. 6 — Bill Stoudt calls it a career
PENDLETON — The county lost an institution during the summer when Stoudt stepped down as the baseball coach at Pendleton Heights. In 32 years at the Arabians’ helm, he won 654 games (the eighth-most in state history), 14 sectional titles and 13 conference crowns. Stoudt also coached 17 all-state selections and 16 Indiana All-Stars at PH. The field at the high school will be renamed in his honor, and he’ll be replaced by one of his former players — former Greenfield-Central coach Travis Keesling.
No. 7 — Sammy Mireles does 2K times 2
ELWOOD — The Elwood junior running back rushed for 2,460 yards to help lead the Panthers to a Central Indiana Conference title. It was the second straight season over 2,000 yards for Mireles, who has gained 4,531 yards in the past two years and 5,391 in his three-year varsity career. He’ll enter 2013 needing 2,170 yards to surpass the state’s career rushing record, set by Cathedral’s Otis Shannon from 1997 to 2000.
No. 8 — Shenandoah bulldozes way to gridiron glory
MIDDLETOWN — The Raiders rushed for 500 yards in the sectional championship game on Nov. 2, leading to a 41-35 upset of Class 2A No. 8 Heritage Christian at Dale Green Field. Shenandoah mounted scoring drives of 94 and 99 yards to erase a 35-21 second-half deficit, and junior Lane Young scored the game-winning touchdown with 18.1 seconds remaining. It was the Raiders’ first sectional title in eight years.
No. 9 — Frankton, Pendleton Heights make cross country history
The Frankton boys and Pendleton Heights girls capped outstanding cross country seasons by winning the first team regional championships in their respective program histories. Both teams ran into tough fields the following week at the semistate in Fort Wayne, but they kept alive the upward mobility that has been trending in the sport for the past decade or so in Madison County.
No. 10 — Lady Tribe wins two for Coach Cook
ANDERSON — This story actually started in the fall of 2011 when Anderson girls basketball coach Chad Cook suffered bleeding in his brain and was immediately hospitalized. Cook somehow returned in time to coach that season, and his girls rallied around him. Anderson won the Madison County tournament title in early 2012 and added its first sectional crown since 2008 to honor its leader.
Honorable Mention — Pendleton Heights’ Mason Todd and Alexandria’s Luke Blanton compete at the state wrestling finals; Anderson’s Kyle Johnson caps his stellar career with his fourth straight trip to the boys swimming state finals; Ross Kenseth wins the Redbud 300 at Anderson Speedway; Anderson breaks a long baseball sectional-championship drought; Anderson University gets new football and men’s basketball coaches; Pendleton Heights wins its first boys tennis sectional title.