For my money, if this paper handed out an award for Most Improved Team it would go to the White River Valley baseball team.
Last year, to be brutally frank about it, the Wolverines were abysmally bad even if they did win a sectional title. This year the Wolverines can field and hit. With better pitching, they might vie for a sectional title next year.
Much of that improvement is due to the attitude coach Bob Wilz has instilled in his players. They simply are a different team this year.
“Like I told them at the start of the year: ‘You’re going to shock some people.’ You’re not going to be the WRV of old,” Wilz told me after the team’s 2-1 loss to North Central in the sectional.
They certainly aren’t.
The Lady Wolverines had set a goal of winning 10 games this spring. They only won eight, but coach Brock Hostetter noted the team won seven last year, so there has been improvement.
“We improved over last year,” he said.
WRV will have to attempt continued improvement next year without the services of Kassi Morrison and Lacey Walker who both graduated.
“Both played a tremendous game tonight,” Hostetter said after WRV’s loss to Clay City in the second semifinal of the sectional. “It’s been an honor coaching them this year. They’re great kids off and on the field, the leaders of the team.”
Spring means graduation and that means some players will be leaving their teams to join the real world.
Shakamak’s softball team will be graduating Brittany Huddleston, Tarah Pine, and Chevy Ruff. After Shakamak fell to North Central in the first Clay City Sectional semifinal, coach B.A. Shipman said they will be missed, but the Lady Lakers return pitchers Jona Lash and Kaitlynne Gilbert and other capable players.
“We lose three seniors and they’ll be greatly missed,” Shipman said, ”but we’ve got some young kids and our pitchers will be back. We’ll be back next year.”
The Bloomfield baseball team also lost three seniors: Jacob King, Kyler Hudson, and Sammy Query. Bloomfield coach Jason Pegg said he coached “a great group of kids,” but the team will miss its seniors.
The Cardinals fell 12-0 to Shakamak Monday night in the sectional final. Pegg said he thinks some of the younger players were “hurt” by the walloping they received, and he hopes that will inspire them to achieve more next season. He said he wants them to learn from the loss and “have fire in their bellies” next year.
“That’s what we need,” he said.
The Lakers baseball team also loses three seniors to graduation: Mason Wood, Lane Gilbert, and Rylee Landry. At least, they can play, at a minimum, one more game as Shakamak takes on Hauser (20-8) at 12:00 p.m. this Saturday in the second semifinal of the Morristown Regional. Clay City coach Larry Shaw said he thinks the Lakers, who won their 24th sectional title Monday night, will remain a formidable force in area baseball, even with the trio’s departure.
“I take my hat off to Shakamak,” Shaw said after Shakamak beat the Eels 9-0 in the first game of the sectional. “They don’t seem to rebuild. They just reload.”
The Eels (8-11) took some lumps this season, but Shaw expects good things from future teams. He explained that every player on Clay City’s roster is a freshman or a sophomore.
Shaw told me that he thinks the Eels have benefited from a schedule that included regular-season games against Sullivan, Linton-Stockton, West Vigo, Riverton Parke, and Shakamak. He added that he has challenged the Eels to work hard in the off-season so they can improve their games for the 2019 campaign.
“The best years are to come,” Shaw said. “We’ve never been embarrassed by a team this year.”
We weren’t able to get this in the paper due to the dreaded deadline doom, but these are Eastern boys track coach Bill Valentine”s remarks about the Thunderbirds’ performance in last week’s regional. Jaysce Skinner, Ethan Helton, Jaden Evans, and Levi Sciscoe made it to the regional. Even if they didn’t make it out, I think it was quite an accomplishment, especially considering the toughness of the Bloomington North Regional’s field.
Here are Valentine’s remarks:
“I am very pleased overall with how Eastern-Greene performed tonight. We made the finals and scored in three out of the seven events that we competed in. Levi Sciscoe threw several feet farther than his previous best to make the finals in the discus and placed seventh overall. Jaysce Skinner made the finals in the 110-meter high hurdles and placed eighth. Jaysce cleared 6-1 in the high jump to place eighth overall. Ethan Helton and Jaden Evans had a great season, but failed to make the finals tonight. The level of competition at the Bloomington track regional is extraordinary.”
We also didn’t get in WRV tennis coach Zach Gummersheimer’s remarks about the Lady Wolverines’ performance in the May 11-12 Southwest Indiana Athletic Conference meet. Here they are:
“All the girls played great! It was a bit windy at the new complex (the Canty Courts south of Bloomfield) we were playing at, but all the girls did a great job adjusting to the weather conditions. I’ve been very proud of their ability to adapt this year. Our number three singles (McKinley Frye) ended up losing to the Bloomfield’s two (Kylee Shelton) who went on to win the entire singles tournament, so even winning a few games against her was a great accomplishment. Our number two singles (Summer Blanton) won her first round, but had a tough road ahead playing Bloomfield’s one (Malea Toon) and lost. Number three singles (Lizzy Mowery) got a bye the first round and then a tough match-up against Linton in the second round. Our number two doubles team (Kate Records and Emma Records) was a couple of girls that hadn’t gotten the chance to play much together this year, but put up a fight against a tough match-up in Bloomfield’s one (Maizy Gilliland and E.J. Priest). WRV one doubles (Kristin Lee and Lexi Graves) played great in the first round earning them a chance to continue playing on Saturday. Their first match-up Saturday was so close, going into three sets with the third set being a close 4-6, but sadly they were moved to the consolation matches. They won their second match Saturday which earned them All-SWIAC Honorable Mention.”