Senior staff writer
Roncalli, Center Grove and Lutheran are among the state’s top-ranked baseball teams, according to the Indiana Baseball Coaches Association’s preseason poll.
In Class 4A, Roncalli, state champions in 2016, is No. 7, and Center Grove is among the top 25 teams. Lutheran, bolstered by three standout freshmen, reached the Jasper semistate last year and stands No. 8 in Class A.
Baseball fortunes on the Southside are on the upswing as Perry Meridian, Southport and Beech Grove – each with new coaches – appear to be improved. Greenwood, Franklin Central, Manual and Greenwood Christian Academy also show promise despite less experienced teams.
The new coaches are Jake Banwart at Perry Meridian, longtime assistant coach Mike Klopfenstein at Southport and Mark Ringham at Beech Grove. Banwart was the head coach at Liberty Christian last year and an assistant coach with 2016 state champion Daleville.
Roncalli and Center Grove squared off Saturday at Grand Park in Westfield in a key matchup with the Rebels prevailing 10-6.
The Trojans came from behind to tie the game at 4 and 6. Roncalli’s Tommy Hansen slammed the go-ahead solo home run in the top of the seventh, which was capped by Chris Dobbs’ one-out three-run homer for the final count. Trojans pitchers hit six batters and walked five players, which led to five of the Rebels’ 10 runs.
The Rebels later lost 10-8 to reigning 4A state champion Cathedral.
Also at Grand Park Saturday, Perry Meridian staged a dramatic six-run seventh inning comeback to upset 3A No. 6 Brebeuf Jesuit 9-8. Elliot Obermaier delivered the big blow, a grand slam. The Falcons later tried to come back against Lawrence North but fell 5-4.
The outlook for Southside teams with last year’s won-lost record and statistics:
Smooth transition for new coach at Southport
Rebels keep winning tradition rolling
Falcons buy into their new coach
Greenwood baseball has youth that could grow quickly
Franklin Central hopes for a better start in 2018
Center Grove ready for a big year
Manual takes a swing at a third-straight winning season
New coach optimistic Hornets will be ready for sectionals
Lutheran has the task of going further than semi-state
Cougars to build off winning season