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State baseball polls recognizing area teams

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Photo)
Head coach Scott McDonald gives senior Caleb Mershon some advice during a game.
By CAREY FOX

Times Sports Editor

Several baseball programs in the area have begun to get the recognition they deserve as high school coaches have noticed just how good high school baseball is around the Wabash Valley.

No fewer than five teams are currently ranked after quick starts to the season with the Northview Knights sitting at 15th, followed by Terre Haute South in 18th-place in Class 4A. The West Vigo Vikings are ranked sixth currently in Class 3A and North Central (Farmersburg) is rated fourth, just ahead of the Shakamak Lakers. Both of those squads are in a stacked Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference that includes Clay City High School. Class A sixth-ranked North Daviess is also a member of the SWIAC.

The Northview Knights have gotten off to a 7-1 start to the season and have been fairly dominant in many categories.

Offensively, of players who have at least 20 at-bats this season, the Knights have seven players hitting .391 or higher led by lead off hitter Kodie Girton's .500 average over 20 at-bats. Freshman Conner Pierce is also right there with a .500 mark. Senior Zac Niehaus has hit .455 followed closely by junior Zach Hull's average of .450. Curtis Grove is hitting .450, Seth Lunsford is at .409 and TJ Decker is batting .391.

Curtis Grove leads the team with eight RBI this season and he leads the team with five doubles. Niehaus leads the squad with five stolen bases.

The pitching has been pretty tough as well led by Craig Peters' 12 shutout innings and a 2-0 record. He's struck out 19 batters and has a 0.00 ERA. TJ Decker has also posted a 0.00 ERA over 11 innings and has struck out 22 batters in just 11 innings of work. Kodie Girton has posted a 2.33 ERA with 18 K's in nine innings of work.

The West Vigo Vikings appear to be, once again, the top challenger for the Western Indiana Conference crown along with the Knights.

The Vikings reached the Class A Regional before falling to Jasper and finishing with a 21-5 mark.

West Vigo has posted a 4-0 mark as weather has wreaked havoc on the Vikings' schedule.

(Photo)
Curtis Grove leads the Knights with eight RBI and has .450 for the team.
Though early in the season, Dylan Aff has hit .538 along with Cody Thornton to top the team through 13 at-bats and the pitching has been even better as Scott West has thrown eight scoreless innings in three games with 15 strikeouts. Zack Kent has rang up 21 strikeouts in 11 innings with a 1.91 ERA.

Also in Class 4A, Terre Haute South has gotten off to solid start against some tough competition, posting an 8-3 season mark. Their losses have come to Class 3A ranked Vincennes Lincoln and New Haven along with Munster.

North Central (Farmersburg) has parlayed a trip to the Class A baseball semi-state last season into a quick start in 2011.

The Thunderbirds have added former Northview Knight, Craig Bell, to an already solid lineup and posted a key 3-2 win against fifth ranked SWIAC opponent, Shakamak on Monday.

Conor Strain got the pitching victory in an outstanding effort that improved his season record to 3-0 overall. Strain has thrown 22 2/3 innings and has a sterling, 1.24 ERA with 38 strikeouts and has allowed just 11 hits. Bell has also been a key addition and has a 2.17 ERA over 9 1/3 innings of work, but has had some control issues, walking 10 while striking out 12.

The offense has also been potent as Collin Harding has a .435 batting average and a team-high nine RBI. Zach Lyday is second in batting average at .394 and has nine stolen bases. His brother Nate has stolen eight for the Thunderbirds.

Some cross over games might help establish some area hierarchy as Terre Haute South is scheduled to face Shakamak on Friday night at home. Northview topped Shakamak by a 4-0 score on April 14. North Central's lone loss this season came in the opener to West Vigo, 3-2.

The Knights will host Gibson Southern and 10th-ranked Bellmont on Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

Indiana High School Coaches Association Poll

Class 4A

1. Lake Central (11-0) (6)69
2. Bloomington South (7-0) (1)63
3. Penn (4-0)36
4. Zionsville (9-1)35
5. Cathedral (7-1)34
6. Lawrence Central (6-0)26
7. Ft. Wayne Carroll (7-1)23
8. Hamilton Southeastern (8-3)21
9. Huntington North (8-2)14
10. New Castle (6-0)13

Receiving votes: Columbus North (6-0) 11, Dekalb (8-0) 10, Evansville Harrison 8, Jeffersonville (5-0) 7, Northview (6-1) 7, Fishers (9-3) 5, Lawrence North (4-3) 2, Terre Haute South (8-3) 1.

Class 3A

1. New Palestine (8-0) (3)66
2. Kankakee Valley (9-0) (2)63
3. Andrean (5-1) (1)46
4. Corydon Central (8-0)35
5. Northwestern (5-0) (1)34
6. West Vigo (4-0)22
7. Brebeuf (6-3)18
8. Silver Creek (11-3)13
New Haven (7-3)13
10. Mount Vernon (Fortville) (7-1)9
Vincennes Lincoln (7-1)9
Bellmont (6-0)9
Yorktown (7-2)9

Others Receiving Votes:

Heritage Hills (6-3) 8, Jasper (6-4) 8, Mishawaka Marian (7-3) 7, Norwell (6-2) 6, Franklin County (4-1) 6, Fort Wayne Concordia (0-0) 4

Class 2A

1. Forest Park (7-1) (5)68
2. Park Tudor (7-1) (1)54
3. Delphi (7-2)51
4. Wapahani (6-1)49
5. Eastern (Pekin) (8-2) (1)36
6. South Spencer (6-1)29
7. Tell City (8-2)24
8. Northfield (5-1)22
9. Providence (5-2)17
10. Union County (6-1)15

Others Receiving Votes:

Taylor (5-1) 9, Adams Central (2-3) 7, Fort Wayne Luers (1-6) 3, Wheeler (5-3) 1

Class A

1. Cowan (6-0) (4)67
2. Frontier (8-3) (2)59
3. Lafayette Central Catholic (5-1) (1)50
4. North Central (Farmersburg) (7-1)46
5. Shakamak (4-2)34
6. North Daviess (5-2)33
7. Washington Township (5-1)30
8. South Central (Union Mills) (5-2)28
9. Vincennes Rivet (6-2)9
10. Oldenburg (3-2)8

Others Receiving Votes:

Fort Wayne Canterbury (1-1) 7, Covington (5-3) 6, Henryville (5-3) 5, Loogootee (6-3) 2, South Central (Elizabeth) (6-3) 1