By SCOTT DAVIDSON
The second season starts for area baseball teams Wednesday as sectional play commences.
For Warsaw and Wawasee that means facing familiar foes for first-round match ups.
The Tigers (10-17) play Thursday in the second game of the Class 4-A Elkhart Memorial Sectional versus NLC opponent Goshen (10-18) at approximately 7:30 p.m. The opener at 5 p.m. pits Northridge (22-5) versus Concord (17-10), two more NLC members.
Defending champion and tenth-ranked Elkhart Central (22-5) meets the host Crimson Chargers (10-19) in the second semifinal game May 28 at noon.
Host Wawasee (7-18) comes right out of the gate Wednesday versus West Noble (4-21) in the opener of the Class 3-A Wawasee Sectional in Syracuse at 5 p.m.
There should be no big secrets for the Tigers and Warriors to deal with. Warsaw beat Goshen 2-1 April 18 at Goshen and then lost 10-4 to the Redskins May 4 at WCHS. Wawasee just hung a 7-1 defeat on the Chargers Monday night.
Warsaw enters the postseason hungry for a victory. The Tigers have dropped eight in a row since beating Plymouth 2-1 on May 8. Warsaw has been outscored 90-37 in the losing skid.
“We are heading into the sectional on an 8-game losing streak,” noted Warsaw coach Mike Hepler. “That will be tough to overcome mentally, but we have played well enough many times to get it done. Playing Goshen for the third time will be a challenge, and I anticipate a hard fought game between both teams.
“Elkhart Central and Northridge are the two favorites to come out of the tournament, and most likely we would have to beat them both should we advance past Goshen. For us to be successful, our pitching and defense have to be consistent. That has let us down in our lopsided losses lately. I feel that our team can turn it around with three good practices this week. Like the old cliché’ states – throw all the records out at tournament time.”
At Wawasee, Tippecanoe Valley (13-8) faces Fairfield (18-9) Thursday. The Vikings are led by standout pitcher James Hackworth. The talented senior southpaw, who fired a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts in a 3-0 win at Manchester May 14, will play at Indiana State. NorthWood (19-8) drew the bye and plays Lakeland (7-20-1) May 28 at noon.
Whitko, which received votes in the latest Class 3-A poll, drew a bye in the Bellmont Sectional. Whitko (20-8) meets Norwell May 25 in the second semifinal game at 7:30 p.m.
Triton travels to the Class 1-A Culver Sectional. The Trojans are paired with Michigan City Marquette in a first-round game May 25.
Regionals are slated for June 2 with area sectional champions assigned to LaPorte (Class 4-A), Bellmont (Class 3-A) and Caston (Class 1-A). Semistates are June 9 with the State Finals June 15-16 in Indianapolis.
Class 4-A At Elkhart Memorial
May 24: 5 p.m. Northridge vs. Concord; 7:30: Warsaw vs. Goshen
May 28: 9 a.m.: Thursday winners; Noon: Elkhart Central vs. Elkhart Memorial; 7 p.m.: Championship Game
Class 3-A At Wawasee
May 23: 5 p.m.: Wawasee vs. West Noble
May 24: 5 p.m.: Fairfield vs. Tippecanoe Valley
May 28: 9 a.m.: Wednesday winner vs. Thursday winner; Noon: NorthWood vs. Lakeland; 5 p.m. Championship Game
Class 3-A At Bellmont
May 23: 5:30 p.m.: Heritage vs. Eastbrook; 7:30 p.m.: Mississnewa vs. Bellmont
May 25: 5:30 p.m.: Wednesday winners; 7:30 p.m.: Norwell vs. Whitko
May 28: 1 p.m.: Championship Game
Class 1-A At Culver
May 23: 5:30 p.m.: Argos vs. South Central
May 24: 5:30 p.m.: Culver vs. Westville
May 25: 5:30 p.m.: Marquette vs. Triton
May 26: 10 a.m.: Oregon-Davis vs. Wednesday winner; 12:30 p.m.: Thursday winners; 5:30 p.m.: Championship Game