Lake Central and Crown Point received their path to a state softball championship on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians will open the Class 4A Highland Sectional against Merrillville while the Bulldogs will await the winner of Valparaiso and Chesterton in the 4A Crown Point Sectional. The pairings were released by the IHSAA on Sunday and the postseason will begin on May 24.
This season will mark the first time since 2015 that Lake Central and Crown Point won’t be in the same sectional. The earliest they could meet in the postseason would be in the regional on June 1.
“We have some goals that we set as a group earlier in the year and the postseason is one of those goals,” Lake Central coach Jeff Sherman said. “We have it in the back of our minds, but there are still some things we’d like to accomplish this year.”
The Indians (18-0) are 9-0 in the Duneland Athletic Conference and they handed Crown Point (15-2) its lone conference loss, 4-2 on Apr. 14. The two teams will play again on Wednesday, but not before Lake Central plays Hobart and Portage to start the week.
“There are a lot of games to be played before the postseason, including some pretty good games this week,” Sherman said.
Crown Point coach Angie Richlawski is eager to get to the postseason, simply because the Bulldogs missed out on the entire season last year due to COVID-19. The Bulldogs outscored their opponents 55-1 in their last four DAC games before going to Michigan and winning two of three games over the weekend.
“We had a bit of an invincibility complex and I think that tournament was a phenomenal reality check for us,” Richlawski said. “If we make mistakes, teams are going to pounce on us.”
Crown Point beat the Vikings 7-4 earlier this season while Chesterton is the three-time defending sectional champion.
“There weren’t any surprises from the draw,” Richlawski said. “I knew in the back of my mind that it was going to be one of those two teams.”
South Central owns the longest sectional winning streak in the Region as the Class A program has won six straight titles. The Satellites host the sectional this year and will open with Argos before potentially matching up with Culver Community or Triton.
Boone Grove, winner of five straight sectionals, will open with North Newton in the Class 2A Winamac Sectional before potentially facing a tall task with Pioneer bumping up a class this season. Pioneer reached the Class A state title game in 2019 before falling to Indianapolis Lutheran.
“If you’re going to go anywhere in the postseason, you’re going to face a good team with a good pitcher and you’ve got to be ready for that,” Boone Grove coach Ron Saunders said. “I’ve got the talent to do some damage, but we’re young and we aren’t always on the same page. We know that Pioneer is going to be the favorites, but I’d rather be the dark horse than the favorite any day of the week.”
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Munster has now won seven straight games.
“He’s an awesome coach. Ever since I’ve been here, he’s been nothing but great to me,” Steven Hernandez said of Randy Roberts.
Jack Kienzle finished 2-for-3 with a double, homer, two runs scored and two RBIs for TF South.
“I’ve been getting frustrated with these guys, but at the same time I have to take a step back and realize we didn’t have any of these guys before this year, none of them,” Steve Strayer said.
"For me, it’s just either miss barrels or put balls in play where guys can get double plays or routine outs."
"I personally think she's one of the best athletes in the school, if not the best athlete," Munster coach Beth Raspopovich said.
“The Mustangs are underrated. We need to be talked about a lot more. We are hot right now. We are the hot team in the Region, so people have to watch out for us.”
Washington Township hosts South Central in baseball.