HILLARY SMITH: Reflecting on the baseball season that was

2014-06-22T20:30:00Z 2014-06-22T21:27:05Z HILLARY SMITH: Reflecting on the baseball season that wasHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
June 22, 2014 8:30 pm  • 

Thanks to Andrean, the one-year hiatus of the region's appearance at Victory Field in Indianapolis has been eliminated. 

Not only did Andrean win the Class 3A state title Saturday, the Niners did so as the most dominant team in the weekend of games. Before the 3A game closing out the tournament, no team had won by more than two runs (Wapahani beat Evansville Mater Dei 2-0). 

The 59ers fixed that with a 6-0 win over Gibson Southern that included a three-run seventh inning.

With the wins in mind, we'll take a look back at the region's 2014 baseball season.

First-timers: Hobart won its first sectional title since 1993, its first title in the multiclass era.

That the Brickies took 21 years to get there — meaning that none of the players were even born the last time the team hoisted a trophy — was only part of the accomplishment.

Hobart's senior class graduates with an 85-37 record in four years, including three straight 20-win seasons. The Class of 2014 also created the first straight-out-of-high-school draftee in Brandon Murray.

Rally cry: Lake Central's rally from a .500 record to a Class 4A semistate berth is among the most fun turnaround stories to watch. 

It was written last week here, but just to reiterate: Any team that can make that kind of commitment to success is worthy of more than enough accolades in my book.

Also, coach Jeff Sandor wins for quote of the year, which will surely end up on a shirt somewhere. While cliches are painful to the ear, after nearly every game in LC's 12-game winning streak, either Sandor or one of his players would say: "Big players make big plays."

Tick-tack: Equally as dominant as the championship game was Andrean's run to the finals.

The Niners scored 81 runs and allowed 11. They won four of their seven postseason games in five innings, and the only team to score more than two runs against them was Griffith, which plated seven in the regional championship.

The 81 runs came without a homer and, in many cases, with more singles than extra-base hits.

Rankings: The IHSBCA left five local teams ranked in the top 10 in their respective classes at the end of the season.

Munster and Hobart were second and fourth, respectively, in Class 4A. Andrean was first in Class 3A, with Hanover Central seventh. Washington Township was ninth in Class 1A. Of those, only Munster didn't win a sectional title, and Munster, Hobart and Andrean beat up on one another in Northwest Crossroads Conference play this season.

Not left out: Michigan City could be the Hobart of the future. The upstart Wolves made noise in the Duneland Athletic Conference that showed its parity this season.

City could be the next team in Sectional 2 to back others against the wall should they start to look past the Wolves.

Next to be drafted?: If Jesse Wilkening's name isn't batted around next year in the same manner as Brandon Murray's was this year, it will be a shock.

Hanover Central's Wilkening is the real deal, both as a catcher and a hitter. Nebraska got a steal. Just like Murray and Larry Crisler this season, Wilkening will likely have a decision to make come early June next year.

This column is solely the opinion of the writer. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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