NWI baseball regional outlook
May 31, 2012 11:04PM
Updated: May 31, 2012 11:10PM
Class 4A: LaPorte
Schedule: Penn vs. Valparaiso, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Elkhart Central vs. Lake Central, to follow.; Championship, 7 p.m.
The skinny: With two of the state’s best pitchers in Jimmy McNamara and Taylor Lehnert, Lake Central is built for a two-game setup like this. But the top-ranked Indians have to get past the same Elkhart Central team that knocked them from the regional in last year’s semifinal. Elkhart Central brings back most of its lineup, so it’ll be interesting to see how the rematch plays out. Valparaiso will be the underdog against Penn, but that’s nothing new to the Vikings, who stormed through the Merrillville Sectional with wins over Chesterton, Crown Point and Portage. If Devin Bafia’s shoulder has recovered from a taxing weekend, Valparaiso might have another surprise in store.
Up next: Winner faces Lafayette Jefferson Regional winner at next Saturday’s semistate, either at Kokomo or South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium.
Class 3A: Plymouth
Schedule: Andrean vs. Griffith, 10 a.m., Mishawaka Marian vs. Western, to follow; Championship, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Another regional with potential rematch intrigue, as Mishawaka Marian is the team that stunned Andrean in last year’s regional. Both teams are favored to reach the final, though Western upset No. 5 West Lafayette to win its 16th sectional title, so the Panthers are no pushovers. The 59ers beat perennial rival Griffith 6-0 and 10-0 in the regular season. Griffith doesn’t have a high-octane offense, so it’ll fall on the pitching staff to keep the 59ers at bay and keep the game within reach.
Up next: Winner faces the Bellmont Regional winner at next Saturday’s semistate, either at Kokomo or South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium.
Class 2A: Whiting
Schedule: Central Noble vs. Bishop Luers, 11 a.m., Hebron vs. Bishop Noll. to follow.; Championship, 6 p.m.
The skinny: This one is wide open, with no powerhouses, but no weak links. None of these teams is even ranked in the top 10 of the coaches poll, though Noll and Hebron both received votes. Despite not having any big boppers (the Knights have three home runs as a team, and just one two regulars batting better than .325), Bishop Luers averages more than seven runs a game and has a deep pitching staff, led by ace Mason Coy. Central Noble’s Nick McCoy, meanwhile, is averaging nearly 13 strikeouts per seven innings.
Up next: Winner faces the Wabash Regional winner at next Saturday’s semistate, either at Kokomo or South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium.
Class 1A: Caston
Schedule: Morgan Twp. vs. South Central, 10 a.m., Caston vs. Fort Wayne Blackhawk, to follow; Championship, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Counting Hebron in 2A, this is the second straight season in which the PCC had three sectional champs. South Central also won a regional last year. To repeat, the Satellites will have to get past Morgan Township, which beat South Central early in the season 2-1. In that game, Morgan’s Joe Dougherty (one run on five hits, six strikeouts) outdueled SC’s Ben Rosebaum, (two runs on two hits, eight strikeouts). Considering both teams are used to scoring a lot of runs — Morgan has had 15 double-digit games, South Central has had nine — it speaks to how good their aces are. Blackhawk, meanwhile, won its three sectional games by a combined score of 37-4 and has a whopping three players with at least 30 RBI, and eight regulars batting .300 or better. Caston is making its first regional appearance.
Up next: Winner faces Lafayette Central Catholic Regional winner at next Saturday’s semistate, either at Kokomo or South Bend’s Coveleski Stadium.
— Mark Lazerus