Times Sports Editor
There is no delicate way to say what a loss means in the IHSAA baseball postseason. One defeat and you go home, season over, as your opponent marches on.
So that's just one more reason that Clay County teams are hoping to repeat earlier season success against this week's sectional foes.
Coming in with a 10-16 mark this year, Northview hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but winning a sectional title would erase all the disappointment of the season's inconsistencies.
The Knights are coming off back-to-back wins over Greencastle and Cloverdale and take on Terre Haute South this evening in the second contest at the Class 4A Northview Sectional. Terre Haute North and Mooresville play at 5 p.m. tonight before the Knights look to repeat on a 7-6 win over the Braves in the Big Four Tourney.
The Clay City Eels would like to enjoy that same success when they face Shakamak on Thursday night at the Class A Shakamak Sectional.
North Central and Union face each other in the opening game on Thursday beginning at 5 p.m.
The Eels should have more confidence than they've had in a sectional match-up against the Lakers in some time since they defeated the Lakers, 5-4, earlier this year. The victory was the first for the Eels against Shakamak in eight seasons.
Another boost for the Eels is the momentum that comes from winning eight-of-nine games coming into the sectional.
The Lakers earned the right to play in the semifinals after nearly no-hitting WRV in the sectional opener on Monday, winning 7-0 on the strength of a 17-strikeout effort from Jaret May.
Ryne Hayes should get the start on the mound for Clay City, boasting a 7-0 record this season. The junior struckout nine in the earlier win over the Lakers and also had a homerun. Will Kennedy also went deep in the game.
The Eels have had no shortage of power this season as Kennedy, Matt Vansickle, Ryne Hayes and freshman Tyler Bridgewater all have multiple home runs.
The rivalry between the Lakers and Eels has developed to a large degree because of the team's familiarity with each other, including the postseason.
In both the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Clay City made it to the sectional championship game only to be downed by the Lakers, 9-1 in 2007 and 12-1 in 2006. The prior two seasons, the Lakers also brought an end to Clay City's year with a 10-0 decision in 2005 and a 14-0 loss in 2004.
So there certainly is no love lost between the teams and the Eels would like nothing more than to add a postseason win over the Lakers to the earlier regular season victory.
More than a decade has gone by since the Eels last won a sectional, dating back to before class baseball to the 1997 season when the Knights and Eels played in the Mooresville Regional with Northview winning 6-5 in 10 innings.
Martinsville then went on to win the regional crown, 9-0 over the Knights.
The last championship for Northview was celebrated in the 2005 season when the Knights claimed the title with a 9-8 win over Terre Haute North to advance to the regional.
Northview then posted a 15-3 pasting of Shelbyville in six innings before falling 9-1 to Indianapolis Cathedral in the Evansville North Semi-State.
The Knights also won a championship in 2001, 8-7 against Martinsville.
South is the defending champion and also ended the Knights' season last year, 8-6, before falling in the regional to Bloomington North.
Brock Lawson got the start on the mound against the Braves.
Northview scored all seven of its runs in the first three innings of that game and got two RBI each from Curtis Peters and Nick Lancaster.
Ryne Barr has eaten up the Braves and Patriots this season, reaching base all 10 times that he went to the plate in the Big Four Tourney. He singled three times, walked five times and doubled while also reaching via an error.
The Knights are hoping for more of that same success.
Zac Niehaus has finished the regular season on a hot streak, doubling home three runs against Greencastle and going 2-for-3 in a win over Cloverdale. Matt Nodley added two hits, one in each game and Kyle Pestoff ended the regular season with a two hit game against the Tiger Cubs.
Senior Nick Lancaster smacked a home run against the Tiger Cubs.
Northview coach Gary Witham has more than 580 career coaching victories and certainly wouldn't mind adding a sectional championship on to his resume.
Clay City coach Ryan Swearingen would undoubtedly love to do the same on the Lakers' home field this week.
The Knights' path begins this evening with an approximate 7:30 p.m. start time against the Braves at Northview High School. Clay City takes on Shakamak on Thursday evening also at approximately 7:30 p.m.