Senior staff writer
There is a trio of seniors at Greenwood Christian Academy who calls one another “brothers.” They are the only players who have been on the school’s varsity baseball team since the program was launched when they were freshmen.
And, as the cliche states: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
Against the odds, the Cougars claimed their first baseball sectional trophy last year.
Three years ago the squad practiced anywhere it could – open fields, a makeshift diamond or inside the gymnasium or a nearby warehouse. All their games were on the road. Since then, seniors Jacob Hagist, Alec Brown and Braden Murray have helped carve out the Cougars’ home field while setting a winning tradition and a legacy that future teams can follow.
Last year the Cougars finished the regular season with a 14-12 record and blasted Tindley 22-0 in the Class A Bethesda Christian Sectional opener and defeated University 14-7 for the school’s first sectional trophy. The Cougars trailed University 6-0 after two innings, tied it at 7-7 and pulled away for the win.
Eventual state champion Shakamak downed the Cougars 10-9 in the Morristown Regional.
The seniors revel in adding to the school’s newfound athletic success, which included its first boys soccer and basketball sectional championships with programs that had been around for more years.
“We accomplished so much as friends and brothers in such a short amount of time that the legacy we leave is that anything can happen if you put your mind to it,” said Hagist, the team’s leading hitter. “No matter how young the program is or how few guys there are, if you set your mind to it you can accomplish it.”
Brown plays first base and catches, Murray also pitches and plays shortstop.
Gone are five seniors from the 2014 sectional championship team, so the three seniors will have to become leaders. No problem, according to coach Doug Hagist. “They will step up. No doubt, we have more talent than last year’s team. We’ll see where that leads us, but it will be interesting. These kids love baseball.”
“Baseball definitely has come a long way here,” Brown said. “Looking back, we built a baseball field, started hosting home games and won a sectional championship. We have accomplished a lot of great thing in just a few short years with not a whole lot of bodies and not a lot of experience. We have started a tradition for the future of GCA baseball.”
“We practiced anywhere we could find that first year,” Murray said. “Everything was off-site. We spent a lot of time working on a home field, clearing the bases, filling dirt and getting water off the field after it rained so we could practice.”
Murray contends that all the work by the team promoted unity and more of a desire to win.
“We went from being inexperienced players to becoming a pretty good team in three short years. The whole field issue brought us together as a team – a lot of team building was accomplished.”
The Cougars will help form a new conference next year as the school’s teams will have tougher schedules. The league will include Muncie Burris, Seton Catholic, Oldenburg and University.
Reigning state baseball champion Cathedral is host to Franklin Central today at 5:30 p.m., with Franklin Central at home April 7 at 6 p.m. against Southport. Double-headers Saturday find Roncalli in the four-team Center Grove Classic and Edinburgh at Greenwood, each at 10 a.m., and Lutheran against Perry Meridian at Holder Field at 11 a.m.
Center Grove visits Greenwood at 5:30 p.m. Friday; Roncalli competes Friday and Saturday in the Terre Haute South Bash with Southport visiting Roncalli on April 7. Also Saturday, Lutheran visits Mount Vernon in a twin bill at 11 a.m., and Martinsville is at Franklin Central, also at 11 a.m.
Fourth in shooting contest
Center Grove senior sharpshooter Jessica Norris was fourth in the American Family Insurance National High School 3-point Championship on April 1 at Carmel.
The tape-delayed finals were televised Sunday on CBS.
Norris racked up 22 points and finished behind champion and UCLA signee Kennedy Burke of California, runner-up Danni Williams of New Mexico and Faith Scruggs of Illinois. The top three shooters are NCAA Division I recruits.
Trojans coach Shawn Sanders and Norris’ teammates Bri Gilesmann and Regan Wentland were on hand to cheer her on.
Top 60 workout
Three players will represent the Southside at the Top 60 workout sponsored by “Hoosier Basketball” magazine, the Indiana High School Athletic Association and the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association.
Center Grove’s Michal Benkert, Southport’s Malik Bennett, Roncalli’s Jimmy King and Perry Meridian’s Dylan Windler are among the invitees. Windler, 27.3 points per game, is one of four seniors who averaged more than 25 points last season.
The public workout is 1 p.m. Sunday at Marian University for northern and southern Indiana seniors, central Indiana seniors at 3:30 p.m. Admission is $7.