The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports

April 8, 2013

2013 Muller preview: Tigers prepare for title defense

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — It took more than a month to finally play last year’s Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament championship game.

As far as Alexandria is concerned, however, it was more than worth the wait.

The centerpiece of the Tigers’ 18-11 season was a 6-5 victory against Pendleton Heights that gave the school its first Muller title in 12 tries.

“It was awesome,” Alexandria coach Jeff Closser said of the breakthrough win. “Our kids want to win it every year. For our program, it’s a great asset.”

Seven returning starters, and eight victories coming back on the mound, also are nice places to start.

Alexandria lost a tremendous leader in Mitch Yeagy, and at-bats leader Justin Quinn also graduated. But brothers Donnie and Derek Dinehart lead a strong group of seniors this time around.

Donnie Dinehart hit .400 with two home runs and 22 RBIs last season, and Derek finished at .354 with three homers and 17 RBIs. Jake Fox (.325, 0, 9), sophomore Owen Young (.353, 0, 14) and junior Drew Johnson (.365, 0, 4) also are back.

Senior Isaac Mitchell is the top returning pitcher after winning five games and throwing 40 2/3 innings last year. He’ll be joined on the mound by sophomore Blaize Kelly, Fox and Donnie Dinehart.

“We’ve got a lot of guys back,” Closser said. “And we’ve got high expectations because we believe we’ve got a chance to improve.”

The early returns have been positive.

The Tigers are 2-0 after a 4-3 victory against Clinton Central on Saturday. They’ll play again today at Delta before opening tournament play Tuesday against Lapel.

Closser is happy with the fast start, especially after unseasonable snowfall kept the team indoors for the majority of preseason practice.

“We’re in the same situation as everybody else,” he said. “We haven’t been outside a whole lot. But I told the guys we’re not going to use that as an excuse because everybody else is in the same boat.”

An experienced Bulldogs team, coming off a strong 23-8 campaign, concerns Closser far more than the weather.

Alexandria would love to become the first team to repeat as Muller champion, but the road ahead is fraught with peril. It starts with Lapel and would likely include a second-round date with Anderson and championship matchup against Pendleton Heights or Central Indiana Conference rivals Frankton or Elwood.

This season promises to be one of the more unpredictable and competitive fields in recent years. And that’s saying a lot for a tournament that has produced four different champions in the past four seasons.

“It’s a great field,” Closser said. “There’s so much talent in Madison County, and then you throw in the rivalry thing. These teams all know each other, these kids all know each other and you don’t want to get beat by those guys. It’s a good early season tournament, it gives you a good feel for the sectional (format) and you really get to see where you’re at.

“We’d like to be the first repeat champion. But you’ve got to put together three quality games to beat programs like that.”

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT-HB0726-Ballard2-ColtsCampdaytwo267.jpg Ballard carted off practice field

    The first scary moment of Indianapolis Colts training camp came Friday afternoon courtesy of running back Vick Ballard.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0726 - Thornton - Colts Camp day two 200 Healthy Thornton 'having a blast' at Colts Camp

    Hugh Thornton is making up for lost time. After missing the majority of training camp with an injured ankle as a rookie last summer, the offensive lineman reported a day early to Anderson University this week.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0725 - Colts Camp - 007 CB Darius Butler holds tight to No. 20 The number 20 has grown to mean something to Darius Butler. The former second-round pick was running out of chances when the Indianapolis Colts signed him during the 2012 season. Eleven starts and eight interceptions later, he’s ingrained as the team’s slot cornerback — working under the final season of a two-year, $4 million deal.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • IMG_3703.JPG Colts Quick Hits: Friday, July 25

    Notes, news and fun facts from Colts Training Camp at Anderson University.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-080.jpg Comfortable Richardson looking for production

    On Sept. 18, the Indianapolis Colts secured the services of running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns. He spent the remainder of the season trying to catch up.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-128.jpg Luck plans to use preseason time wisely

    Managing the situations that crop up during a football game is at the top of Andrew Luck's to-do list. But his more immediate concern is maximizing every snap of training camp at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • irsay.jpg Colts Camp Blog: Irsay's expectations and other musings

    News and notes of interest from Colts Training Camp in Anderson.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Chris Hacker image Hacker helping kids go to camp Born with an injury that affects the nerves controlling the muscles in his left arm hasn’t slowed Chris Hacker when he climbs behind a race car.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • MDU1.jpg Colts Camp Update: Pagano praises city, AU

    Blue skies and comfortable temperatures greeted the Indianapolis Colts on the first practice day of training camp Thursday at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0725 - Newsome - JC - 1 Former BSU star Newsome ready to prove his worth

    Jonathan Newsome knows what it feels like to be a spectator at the Indianapolis Colts' training camp. He spent one day in each of the past two summers watching practice alongside his Ball State teammates. When the first public practice of 2014 begins today at 1:50 p.m., Newsome — a fifth-round pick in May's draft — will be on the other side of the fence as a rookie outside linebacker earning his stripes.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

Latest Sports Photos


Click here to browse and buy photos from The Herald Bulletin

Latest Racing News