It’s snowing as my fingers dance atop the keyboard. Yep, snow in April. This has got to be the 2-1-9.
My entire column’s point of view gets crushed by a simple wind shift.
The plan was to talk about how this spring has been pretty good. Not a ton of moisture and a higher percentage of sunshine, which has shown a light on the Region’s softball diamonds.
There have been more than a few surprises this spring. Let’s start in St. John, where the state finalist Lake Central Indians were expected to be in full time rebuilding mode after losing seven senior starters off last year’s squad.
Might want to check that.
L.C. is on a 16-game winning streak as the snow falls, heading into Tuesday’s game against Crown Point. Some things never change. C.P.-L.C. softball, one of the Region’s best rivalries of all.
“We knew we had some positions to fill coming in, but our kids always knew we could play with anybody,” L.C. coach Jeff Sherman said. “Our kids took notice when the preseason stuff came out and they felt like they didn’t get the love they felt they deserved. The win streak has changed our focus. We have to focus and work harder every day to keep it going.”
Freshman Sydney Doloszycki has been a beast at shortstop, making hard plays look easy and hitting with a purpose. Leadoff hitter Alexis Johnson and No. 3 hitter Olivia Peterson have also been hitting it hard and getting on base.
“When the season started we weren’t sure how our offense would be,” Sherman said. “But we’ve been on a tear the last 16 games.”
Last year Alexa Pinarski owned the circle and rarely left. She was outstanding. This season a three-pitcher rotation is being utilized. Peyton Pepkowski, Jenna Towle and Amanda Aardema. The trio has been fantastic, even being used in the same game at times.
“We haven’t had this kind of depth in a long time,” Sherman added. “It’s been a fun year so far.”
On Tuesday in Crown Point the two powers will face off for the second time this season, L.C. winning the first one 6-2.
The preseason darlings of softball were the Crown Point Bulldogs. With two sophomore pitchers already committed to play Division I ball -- Madi Elish (Arizona) and Madi Young (Bowling Green) -- it’s easy to put the crown on the head in March.
But Pete Iussig’s team lost three games in a row early and the old county courthouse lost some chips of paint.
“We lost some tough games early but we’ve won 12 straight,” Iussig said. “The girls are starting to get it going. We just have to keep doing that.”
Beth Thornburg has a very strong team at Munster. Again and again. Always under the radar the Mustangs will be dangerous when sectionals come around. Chesterton, also in Class 4A, has played great softball so far. It would be great to read about these teams and see photographs of these talented student athletes.
But I’ve been told nothing of this sort is taking place this spring. It’s a shame. Thousands of fans and hundreds of players being ignored. Every day.
This is what happens when you hire Eddie Arcaro to play power forward for the Bulls.
Ladies, keep playing the game you love. The fans will keep coming, just like they’ve done for decades. How you’re being treated by some is repulsive. But your talent and passion will not be ignored by those you matter most.
It’s been a few weeks, folks. I’ve been on sort of a Spring Break. One without any tan lines.
But it’s time to get my fingers dancing again. Maestro play the tune please.
We are just a few minutes or days before the sun warms up and all of Da Region gets to thaw out. Put all of our parkas away for awhile and bask in the heat that makes so many of us smile. For me, I can’t wait.
The crack of the bats on diamonds all around Northwest Indiana, and of course, at Wrigley Field is just awesome. But before we all begin to sweat I would like to take the next few moments and look back at the winter of 2018-19. To gaze a bit inside the gyms of our local high schools.
Player of the Year: Valparaiso’s Brandon Newman is the best player in the 2-1-9. He is a finalist for Indiana’s Mr. Basketball award. The 6-foot-5 wing led the Vikings to 21 wins and the Class 4A sectional championship game. He averaged 27.2 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. Complete stud in green, he was.
I’m not the only one with the same conviction. Purdue’s Matt Painter will be coaching Newman for the next four years. Yes, the same coach who led his Boilermakers into the Elite 8 in March losing a heart-breaker in overtime to eventual national champion Virginia.
Most years Newman would be a lock in getting my Player of the Year vote. But this is not most years.
I’m going to drive down Broadway with my trophy and hand the honor to Andrean’s John Carrothers. The 6-foot-3 “do everything” player carried his 59ers to the Class 2A state championship. His numbers -- 13.9 points, 3.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds -- aren’t dazzling or jaw-dropping. It takes a few minutes of watching him work before you realize how good his game is.
In the 59-54 win against Linton-Stockton inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse Carrothers scored 16 points and grabbed four boards before cutting down the nets.
If I was a college coach Newman would be my first pick. But I’m not. I’m looking for the high school player who did the most to help his team win which is why John Carrothers is my Player of the Year.
Have a great summer kid.
Near misses: Here is a list of Region players who were remarkable as well. Chesterton’s Jake Wadding was and is remarkable for the sectional champion Trojans. Andrean’s Kyle Ross won a state title as a sophomore and will be fun to watch the next two winters. Probably the ‘Niners best player. Munster’s Jevon Morris had a great run for coach Mike Hackett. He helped lead the Mustangs to a sectional title, something that had been missing in recent springs.
I’ll finish my best of the best list with Lake Station’s Dominique Smith. I remember watching this pint-sized freshman at the Highland Holiday Tournament four years ago and was amazed. His game got better every year after. He averaged 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists for the 17-win Eagles. Well done, sir.
A great group of young men who have a lot of basketball yet to be played.
Coach of the Year: This one is pretty easy. If you lead your team to a state championship then you get this honor. Period. Congratulations to Andrean’s Brad Stangel for assembling this team and finally getting over the hump.
Near misses: Here is my list of coaches who did a great job this season even if they did not make it to Indy. Hanover Central’s Bryon Clouse, Hammond’s Larry Moore Jr., Chesterton’s Marc Urban, Munster’s Mike Hackett and Lake Station’s Bob Burke.
Well done, gents.
A fond farewell: Two great coaches chose to step away from the game at the end of this season -- Michigan City’s John Boyd and Merrillville’s T.J. Lux. Boyd led Gary West Side to the 2002 state title. He attempted to get City into the upper tier but it never did happen. Lux was a true gentleman of the game, a great guy, who truly cared about his kids, on and off the court.
I wish the two of you the best as you walk into the next chapter of your life.
Part of me wants to keep writing about what was a great season this winter. But the sun is shining and the buzzer on our dryer just went off. My Speedos are ready to be worn. Can’t wait for summer.
But I’m putting my parka in the trunk just in case.