By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
DALEVILLE, Ind. —
Daleville’s 2012 baseball sectional championship might have come a year ahead of schedule.
But it was a welcome — and well-earned — surprise.
“We got on a roll at the right time last year,” Broncos coach Daniel Hanson said.
Daleville won its first four postseason games by a combined score of 21-5, surging to the regional finals, where it lost on the road to eventual Class A state champion Lafayette Central Catholic.
The Broncos return seven starters from that 17-13 team, including the heart of the batting order — juniors Caleb Maddox and Levi Floyd and seniors Cody Duke and Taylor Clark. The quartet combined to hit .307 and drive in 53 runs during the regular season.
Also returning are junior Brent Blackwell — who hit .303 with two homers and 15 RBIs — as well as senior Kory Roberts and sophomore Bryce Stephens.
“We feel really good with what we have returning and the new guys coming in,” Hanson said. “It’s a good mixture.”
Newcomers include freshman Brandon Vermillion, sophomores Brock Savage, Connor Clark, Christian Combs and Wesley Bivens and senior Jordan Fisher.
Daleville graduated a pair of seniors — Drew Nuce and Michale Staimpel — from last year’s squad. Nuce takes with him some 50 innings pitched that will need to be replaced.
Clark likely will serve as the team’s ace, with Maddox, Stephens and Blackwell earning increased time on the mound.
The most difficult challenge could be finding a way to carry over the momentum from the end of last season. The Broncos relied on timely hitting and clutch pitching late in the season, factors that tend to be contagious but easily lost over a long, cold winter.
Daleville was supposed to hold a scrimmage Thursday night, but it was canceled after the heavy snowstorm earlier in the week. The team has only worked outside on three days since conditioning began, and it’s never been on the diamond for more than 90 minutes at a time.
But Hanson believes the experience the Broncos gained last season will go a long way toward helping this year’s team prepare.
“The biggest thing is confidence,” he said. “The kids’ confidence is showing up. They know what they need to do to win. They got to taste success, and they know what it takes to win and what they have to do to get there on a daily basis.”