Southsider Voice correspondent
Greenwood Christian Academy’s fledgling athletic program pulled off a trifecta during the 2013-14 school year, and the private school hopes to build on that foundation.
The Cougars scored their first Class A sectional championships in boys soccer, basketball and baseball.
The soccer team defeated Brown County and sectional host Southwestern (Shelby County) but lost 2-1 to eventual semistate finalist Oldenburg Academy in the Knightstown Regional opener to finish 14-5-2.
The basketball squad – in its eighth season – had never won a sectional game until this year. Playing in the only Class A sectional with eight teams, the Cougars downed Southwestern, Lutheran and Waldron for the Edinburgh crown. Then they won the school’s first regional game in any sport by defeating Metropolitan before losing an upset bid against Clay City in a last-second defeat at the free-throw line.
Coach Doug Hagist’s baseball team entered the Morristown Sectional with a 13-13 record and was crowned champs in dramatic fashion June 3.
The Cougars battled from a 6-0 deficit after two innings to tie University 7-7 in the top of the seventh with two runs. Then Greenwood Christian scored seven runs in the top of the ninth for a 14-7 sectional title in only its third year of play. Sophomore Krae Sparks drove in four runs, junior Tad Thompson drove in two, and Braden Murray hit a solo homer and pitched the final seven innings, striking out 12 while giving up only one earned run.
The Cougars journeyed Saturday to the Morristown Regional, which featured a Southside double-header as Lutheran played in the second game.
Greenwood Christian collided with No. 3 Shakamak and could only muster three hits as the favored Lakers (26-7) ended the Cougars’ season with a 10-0 win in five innings. The Cougars threatened to extend the game in the bottom of the fifth when Jacob Stephenson singled and Murray walked with one out, but they were left stranded when the next two batters struck out.
Before the season began, Hagist emphasized that the Cougars were making the transition from having athletes playing baseball to having baseball players playing baseball.
Senior Gunnar Rastenburg and sophomore Bryce Walters played on each of the championship teams, and seniors Jacob Stephenson and Seth Walters and juniors Alec Brown and Braden Murray were on the basketball and baseball teams.
The Cougars’ baseball squad finished 16-14 and has a promising future. Hagist loses only four seniors and expects several top hitters back next year, including Brown, 37 hits, 31 RBIs, .514 batting average; Sparks, 30 hits, 22 RBIs, .385; and sophomores Nate Weems, 25 hits, .379; and Noble Pearcy 24 hits, .358.
Five of six pitchers are due to return, led by Murray with a 2.47 ERA and 62 strike outs, and Sparks (1-4) with a 3.15 ERA.
Lutheran (20-8) gave up solo runs in five innings but rallied in the sixth with two runs against Jac-Cen-Del (20-8). The Saints had eight hits but lost 5-2.
The Southside’s Class A teams were the only ones that won sectional titles.
In rain-postponed sectional championships June 3, host Whiteland upset Franklin Central 7-2, and upset-minded Southport fell to Ben Davis 3-1 at Holder Field.
Franklin Central scored three runs in the seventh and defeated Center Grove 4-0 in a game that restarted June 3 in the bottom of the fourth with the Flashes leading 1-0. FC broke the game open on a leadoff walk, a fielding error and RBI hits by Jon Knies and Jake Sprinkle. The Trojans finished 18-10 under first-year coach Keith Hatfield, who formerly was at Roncalli.
FC then faced Whiteland 30 minutes later and grabbed a 2-1 lead after two innings on Knies’ leadoff homer in the first and Evan Baurley’s sacrifice grounder, which scored Aaron Snyder. Jared Adkins caused the Flashes the most grief with his two hits, three RBIs and three runs. The Flashes (21-6) threatened in the sixth by loading the bases with one out, but the last two batters struck out.
Coach John Rockey loses 12 seniors from the Flashes’ standout team.
Whiteland (12-18), the only Class 4A team to reach the regional with a losing record, upset Jeffersonville 5-4 Saturday in the Evansville Reitz Regional opener before falling to Castle 2-1 after leaving the bases loaded in the seventh.