BASEBALL: Sectionals begin today; finals are Monday
May 24—High school baseball sectionals begin today and continue through Monday. Mother Nature has given her seal of approval in the form of a picture-perfect forecast of sunshine and blue skies.
All five Howard County are playing in sectionals within the county. Kokomo is hosting a Class 4A sectional at Municipal Stadium, Northwestern and Western are playing in a Class 3A sectional at Northwestern, and Eastern and Taylor are playing in a Class 2A sectional that Eastern is hosting at CFD Investments Stadium in Highland Park.
Tipton joins Eastern and Taylor in the sectional at Highland Park. Maconaquah and Peru are in a Class 3A sectional at Oak Hill. Carroll and Lewis Cass are in a Class 2A sectional at Delphi. And Tri-Central heads to Anderson Prep for a Class A sectional.
The following are looks at the sectionals.
In today's opening round, Kokomo (11-16) faces Logansport (21-9) in the 5:30 p.m. opener and Harrison (20-8) takes on Lafayette Jeff (17-12) at approximately 8 p.m. Harrison is the sectional's two-time defending champion.
Logansport swept Kokomo in North Central Conference play during the regular season. The Berries beat the Kats 6-2 on April 18 at Kokomo, and 11-8 on April 19 at Logan.
Kokomo is led by Indiana North All-Star selection John Curl. The Indiana State-bound slugger is batting .416 with 12 extra-base hits, 29 runs and 20 RBI. J.J. Gillespie is batting .400. The Kats' pitching options include Dameion Deis (2-4 record, 2.02 ERA), Ashton Sexton (2-3, 2.10), Isaac Flamino (1-2, 3.00) and Dalton Dixon (4-2, 3.33).
The semifinals are Saturday. Today's winners meet at 11 a.m. and McCutcheon (16-9) faces Marion (1-18) at approximately 2 p.m.
The championship is at 11 a.m. Monday
Western heads into the Class 3A Northwestern Sectional as the defending champion and the clear favorite. The Panthers are 22-4 and ranked No. 4 in the state.
In today's opening, the Panthers face North Montgomery (16-12) in the 5 p.m. opener and Twin Lakes (15-11) meets West Lafayette (13-11) at approximately 7 p.m.
In Thursday's semifinal round, today's winners meet at 5 p.m. and Northwestern (16-11) takes on Frankfort (16-12) at approximately 7 p.m. The championship is set for 11 a.m. Monday.
Western features the 1-2 pitching tandem of Indiana North All-Star selections Mitchell Dean and Christian Pownall. The Louisville-bound Dean has a 7-0 record and 0.68 ERA and the Ohio State-bound Pownall is 5-1 with a 1.16 ERA. Dean has 87 strikeouts in 41.1 innings.
Dean also is a dominant force at the plate. He is batting a county-best .512 and also tops the county in on-base percentage (.596), extra-base hits (21) and RBI (48). Zach Gilbert has 15 extra-base hits and 32 RBI.
Northwestern's top pitchers are A.J. Burkhalter (2-1 record, 1.50 ERA) and Koen Berry (4-2, 5.91). Lincoln Cardwell is the Tigers' leading hitter. He is batting .444 with 18 extra-base hits and 23 RBI.
Eastern is the defending champion and the favorite in the Class 2A sectional the Comets are hosting at Highland Park. The Comets are 20-7.
In today's opening round, Taylor (7-14) faces Tipton (3-15) in the 5 p.m. opener. After that, Madison-Grant (15-12) faces Elwood (3-22) at approximately 7 p.m.
In Saturday's semifinal round, Eastern takes on Alexandria (11-16) at 1:30 p.m. and today's winners meet at 5 p.m. The championship is set for 1 p.m. Monday.
Eastern has a pair of solid pitching options in Corbin Snyder (6-2 record, 1.59 ERA) and Cayden Calloway (6-1, 0.95). Snyder has 86 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Reid Keisling leads the Comets at the plate with a .449 average, 11 extra-base hits, 39 runs and 27 RBI. Keisling also has 36 stolen bases.
Hunter Williams leads the Titans in batting with a .328 average and 18 RBI. Kien Sullivan is batting .322 and Catch Sullivan is batting .318. Williams leads the pitching staff with a 2-5 record.
AROUND THE AREA
In the Class 3A Oak Hill Sectional, there are two games today — Peru (13-12) vs. Oak Hill (13-11) at 5 p.m. and Mississinewa (13-12) vs. Norwell (19-7) at approximately 7 p.m. In Saturday's semifinal round, today's winners meet at noon followed by Maconaquah (11-15) vs. Bellmont (9-11) at approximately 2 p.m. The championship is set for 2 p.m. Monday.
In the Class 2A Delphi Sectional, there are two games today — Seeger (18-8) vs. defending champion Carroll (14-9) at 5 p.m. and Benton Central (11-13) vs. Lewis Cass (1-18) at approximately 8 p.m. The semifinal round is Thursday. Today's winners meet at 5 p.m. followed by Clinton Prairie (7-16) vs. Delphi (18-10) at 8 p.m. The championship is planned for 3 p.m. Monday.
In the Class A Anderson Prep Sectional, there are three opening-round games spread over three days. Southern Wells (5-17) faces Wes-Del (17-8) at 5:30 p.m. today. Tri-Central (8-12) takes on Liberty Christian (3-18) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. And Daleville (9-10) faces Anderson Prep (2-13) at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The semifinals and final are all Monday. Cowan (10-13) faces the SW-WD winner at 10 a.m. The TC-LC winner faces the Daleville-AP winner at 1 p.m. The championship is at 6 p.m.
Bryan Gaskins is the Tribune's sports editor. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-454-8567.