By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
If, as many have stated, the spring high school sports season is indeed a sprint, get ready to jump into overdrive.
Over the next four days — weather permitting — sectional champions will be crowned in softball, girls tennis and boys and girls track will enter regional competition, and baseball will begin sectional play.
Locally, there’s also plenty of activity at Anderson Speedway leading up to the Little 500, and Hoosier Park is gearing up for its biggest race of the year — the Dan Patch Invitational this weekend.
There’s also a race of some international interest being prepared for in Indianapolis.
Amidst this backdrop, the high school season will reach a crescendo.
A year ago, the Anderson baseball team heated up around the second weekend of the North Central Conference season and rode the wave of success straight to its first sectional title in 17 years.
The Indians (18-5) again caught fire around the second NCC weekend, and they will open defense of their title at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Richmond — the only conference rival to sweep a two-game series from the Tribe this season.
Anderson finished second in the NCC, one game behind New Castle, behind the solid pitching duo of Curtis Wilson (5-1, 1.75 ERA) and Jarred Quartier (5-1, 2.20). Wilson also is batting .451 with two homers and 18 RBIs.
Peyton Newsom (.436, 6, 35) has provided another stellar power season, and Zach Sanderson has been hot of late — raising his average to .377.
But Anderson has plenty of competition for the sectional crown.
Pendleton Heights (15-6) defeated the Tribe to win a record fifth Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament title last month. And the Arabians have their own stud pitching combo in Taylor Rogers (4-1, 2.35) and Cody Altherr (4-3, 2.65).
Hunter Cook (.368, 1, 19), Brogan Gary (.328, 0, 12) and Kurt Talbert (.313, 0, 11) are among the Arabians’ leaders at the plate.
The sectional hosts begin play Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. against Hoosier Heritage Conference rival Greenfield-Central, the team that PH coach Travis Keesling led before returning to his alma mater this season.
New Castle (22-7) is another strong title contender behind star Trey Ball. The senior is 6-0 on the mound with a 0.76 ERA and also is hitting .329 with nine homers and 28 RBIs. He is projected to be taken as high as the top 10 in next month’s Major League Baseball draft.
The Trojans wait until next Monday’s semifinals to open sectional play, battling Connersville at noon.
Wednesday’s winners will meet in the first semifinal Monday at 10 a.m., and the championship game is scheduled for 7 p.m. that evening.
The week gets off to a fast start tonight with the softball sectional at Pendleton Heights.
The host Arabians play Richmond in the opener at 5:30 p.m., and New Castle and Anderson follow about 7:30. The semifinals are scheduled to begin Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., and the championship game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night.
Play also begins tonight in the Class 2A sectional at Frankton with Shenandoah and Lapel battling at 5 p.m. Semifinals in that five-team sectional begin Tuesday at 5 p.m. with Winchester facing the host Eagles, and the championship game is scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m.
The 2A sectional at Eastern begins Tuesday with Elwood vs. Alexandria at 5 p.m., and Madison-Grant vs. Tipton around 7 p.m. Semifinals begin Wednesday at 5 p.m., and the championship is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.
Liberty Christian begins its first go-around as Class A sectional hosts Tuesday at 5 p.m. when Cowan plays Daleville. The semifinals begin Wednesday at 5 p.m., with the host Lions facing Tuesday’s winner around 7 p.m. And the title game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday.
In other baseball action, play begins in the Class 2A sectional at Lapel at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Winchester meets Frankton in the opener, and Muncie Burris battles Shenandoah around 7:30 p.m. The semifinals begin Thursday at 5 p.m., and Lapel will meet Wapahani around 7:30. The championship game is set for 5 p.m. next Monday.
At Eastern, Elwood opens play against the host Comets on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Madison-Grant and Alexandria will play Thursday at 5 p.m., and the winners of the first two games meet in the semifinals beginning Monday at 10 a.m. The title game will be that night at 7.
In Class A at Wes-Del, Daleville meets the host Warriors at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Semifinals begin next Monday at 10 a.m., and Liberty Christian faces Monroe Central around 12:30. The championship is slated for 5 p.m.
Two local teams also remain alive in the girls tennis tournament.
Pendleton Heights will meet Delta at Marion on Tuesday, and Shenandoah battles East Central at Richmond. Regional finals are Wednesday, and semistate play begins Saturday.
The girls track athletes will compete in the regional at North Central at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and the boys head to Ben Davis at 6 p.m. Thursday.