Pope: Here are your NWI high school baseball sectional predictions
By LaMond Pope 713-2691 or firstname.lastname@example.org May 18, 2013 7:48PM
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:54PM
When it came time to predict the winners of the area’s eight baseball sectional tournaments, I looked for two things: Which teams have been consistent throughout the season and which teams have been on a roll.
Five area teams — Washington Township, Bishop Noll, Boone Grove, Andrean and Crown Point — are ranked in their respective classes in the May 13 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association poll. Another team, Hanover Central, is receiving votes. And then there are other teams that have been hot down the stretch, like Chesterton and last year’s Class 4A state champ Lake Central.
Sectionals begin Wednesday and stretch all the way to Memorial Day.
Expect Lake Central to come through the Munster Sectional. After a slow start, the Indians bats have heated up. Ryan Burvan leads the team many offensive categories, including batting average (.505), hits (47), runs (40), doubles (13) and RBI (34). Lake Central already has wins against three of the teams (Munster, Highland and Morton) in the Munster Sectional during the regular season.
The LaPorte Sectional is loaded. Wednesday’s Chesterton-Hobart game could be one of the best in the opening round. Andrew Ralph has a .452 batting average to pace Chesterton’s offense. Hobart’s Tyrus Joseforsky has a .396 average and 24 RBI. Plus Brandon Murray is one of the top pitchers in the area.
Valparaiso faces Portage in another good first-round game Thursday. But Crown Point is the team to beat in the sectional. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 5 in the poll with a 20-4 mark. Crown Point has the arms to get it done, with pitchers Zach Plesac, Ronnie Plesac and Noah Burkholder leading the way.
Another ranked team will likely come out on top of the Kankakee Valley Sectional. Andrean is ranked No. 4. The 59ers spent a portion of the season ranked No. 1. Andrean has an impressive sectional streak. The 59ers have won 11 consecutive sectional titles, according to the IHSAA website, the longest current winning streak in the state. Hanover Central could be waiting for them in the final on Saturday.
Griffith won a sectional title last season. The Panthers have already advanced to the semifinal this year’s Griffith Sectional because of a forfeit (against Roosevelt). Anthony Carter leads the team in many of the pitching categories, including wins (5).
I like another host, Boone Grove, to win the its 2A sectional. The Wolves have six players with at least 15 hits this season. Dean Hill has led the way on the mound with eight wins and a 1.68 ERA. He has more strikeouts (57) than hits allowed (52). Boone Grove’s semifinal opponent, Hebron, will provide a tough test.
Boone Grove is ranked No. 8 in the state for Class 2A. Bishop Noll is ranked No. 6 in the same class. The Warriors have been on a roll with a 22-2 record. That should continue through the Whiting Sectional.
Another one of the area’s top early games could go a long way in deciding the Washington Township Sectional. Porter County Conference foes Morgan Township and Washington Township meet on Wednesday.
Washington Township, ranked No. 3 in the state, won the first two meetings this season. I’ll give the Senators — led offensively by Bobby Ross and Tyler Byerly — a slight edge for this sectional.
South Central has won four consecutive sectional titles. Top hitters Alec Sturdy and J.T. Snyder should help South Central to the Culver Community Sectional crown.
These predictions are by no means locks, but one thing is certain. There’s plenty of good baseball ahead.