LAPEL, Ind. — The moment the ball leapt off Brady Cherry’s bat, there was no doubt about its final destination.
Wabash High School is justifiably proud of the dimensions of its baseball diamond. And before the Class 2A regional there earlier this month, a radio broadcaster asked Lapel coach Brad Lantz how his team would adjust to playing in a big park.
Lantz smiled and said his boys were accustomed to large fields and would do just fine.
Now, here was Cherry — the five-tool sophomore shortstop — changing the game with a single swing. His three-run homer in the second inning easily cleared the fence in centerfield and was lost in the trees some 420 feet from home plate.
It nearly erased the six-run deficit the Bulldogs dug for themselves in the first inning, pulling Lapel within one run, but top-ranked Northfield ultimately held on for an 8-5 victory. A few weeks later, the Norse won their second consecutive state championship.
With Cherry leading a loaded class of juniors-to-be, the Bulldogs now believe they can compete with any team in the state.
“I thought we improved a lot as the season went on,” Cherry said. “We had a lot of young guys. This year, to win sectional, it was a lot more than I expected. But we’re only losing two seniors, and we feel really good about the guys we have coming back.”
Cherry is at the heart of that group.
Batting in the No. 2 hole this season, he hit .395 with six home runs and 26 RBIs. Lantz said he would have added three of four dingers to that total except for his habit of consistently hitting the ball to the deepest part of the field.
His speed helped Cherry add 10 doubles and three triples to his totals, and he had a team-high eight stolen bases.