With starters returning at all but one position from a 22-7 high school
baseball team that averaged 12 hits a game, Northview coach Gary Witham expects the Knights to hit.
So banging out 11 hits, seven for extra bases, in an 11-5 win over the visiting Owen Valley Patriots Tuesday afternoon really didn't surprise Witham.
"Our hitting is definitely our strong suit," Witham said after opening the Western Indiana Conference season with a win.
The win gets Northview [2-0, 1-0 in WIC] off to good start in the WIC.
"It's a big win every year. If you win you're not going to [win the conference] right away, but you could lose [the game] and you could be out [of the conference race]," Senior T.J. King said.
Northview (2-0, 1-0 in the WIC) travels to Spencer today to play Owen Valley (0-1, 0-1 in WIC) again. The Knights play host to South Putnam on Saturday in a non-conference game.
King and Ryan Nees paced Northview's power-hitting attack, as they combined for six extra-base hits.
"(King and Nees) did a real good job at the plate. T.J. was one single away from hitting for the cycle, so obviously he had a good night," Witham said.
King belted a home run, triple and double. The senior needed a single to match the feat he accomplished as a sophomore against Sullivan. "I had a chance the first time [at bat on an infield ground ball], so I guess you could say I had my chance," King said.
Nees showed both power and heads-up base running while connecting for three doubles. It appeared the senior first baseman had a home run in the third inning, but OV contested the umpire's less than convincing signal and upon examining the base of the fence, ruled the hit a ground-rule double.
"I've just been working a lot down in the [batting] cages and it's just coming over into the game. I'm not really thinking that much about [my swing]," Nees said.
Graig Bass completed the power show with a two-run triple in Northview's five-run third inning.
The big offense took the pressure off starting and winning pitcher Nick Wells. The junior righthander allowed four runs, two hits, struck out six and walked four before Jordan Myers came on in the fifth. Myers gave up one run, two hits, struck out four and walked one.
"Our pitching wasn't as sharp as I would like to see it. I think it's going to get better. It's still early and [the pitchers] haven't thrown that many innings," Witham said.
Northview is still looking for that dominant staff ace. "We've got some decent pitching. We just don't have a dominant pitcher. Nick is really the closest we have to somebody who throws hard enough to be dominant," Witham said.
"But, we've got plenty of pitching. We've got a bunch of it, it's just a question of who is going to be ready that night."
Northview scored two runs in the first, two in the second and broke the game open with five-run third inning.
Brady Shoemaker opened the five-run third inning with a base on balls.
Nees followed with his ground-rule double to the 385-mark in center field.
Craig Trout landed a single just behind third base to score Shoemaker and Nees.
Wade Thacker kept things going with a single, but was forced out at second on Jesse Johnson's infield ground ball. Bass got all of a pitch for a triple that scored Trout and Johnson, giving Northview a 9-2 lead.
Taylor, Frye (5), Roberts (6) and Deckard; Wells, Myers (5) and Trout,
Nodley (6). W -- Wells. L -- Taylor. LOB -- OV 6, N 4. HR -- King. 3B
-- King, Bass. 2B -- B. Jones, King, Cooper, Nees (3).
Next game: Northview (2-0, 1-0 in WIC) travels to Spencer on Wednesday
to play Owen Valley (0-1, 0-1 in WIC).