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BASEBALL: Top 10 for Week of 3/26/18

T-#10.
MORGAN TWP. CHEROKEES

LAST SEASON: 15-12

We have a tie at #10 with a pair of PCC teams making an appearance at the lower part of the rankings. First is the Morgan Twp. Cherokees – a team that has to replace just one regular player in their lineup from last year. There were a lot of talented juniors a year ago, including Colin Mack (0.95 ERA), Josh Bencie (1.24 ERA) & Colton Rosenbaum (.394 batting average & three home runs), that should have breakout senior campaigns.

T-#10. 
BOONE GROVE WOLVES

LAST SEASON: 13-9-1

It’s a new era in Wolves baseball as long-time coach Rollie Thill retired and Patrick Antone takes over as skipper at BG. Luckily for Antone he has some experience on his side, as just four players from last year’s roster graduated.

#9.
HIGHLAND TROJANS

LAST SEASON: 20-8

With the amount of returning bats in the lineup, it’ll be no surprise to see the Trojans put up a bunch of runs in 2018. Can they stop opposing teams from matching them run for run is the question. Well, that remains to be seen as not many experienced pitchers are back for head coach John Bogner. This new crop of Trojan hurlers won’t have to be dominant because of the potential of the offense, but they will have to keep them in games.

#8. 
HEBRON HAWKS

LAST SEASON: 29-4
Regional Champs

There’s no shortage of players for the Hawks to replace from last year’s semi-state squad, as 10 players are gone via graduation. This team still has plenty of talent however, as they return Travis Patrick, who had a 1.7 ERA and also was second on the team with 43 RBI. Will they be as good as they were in 2017? Maybe not, but they can still make a run in the 2A tournament.

#7.
CROWN POINT BULLDOGS

LAST SEASON: 18-9

The Bulldogs seemed to hit their stride late in 2017, winning seven straight heading into the tournament….where they lost to Chesterton 14-7 in the opener. Crown Point has a lot of innings on the mound to replace with the graduations of Brandon Haczynski & Dillon Farinelli – the only two players on this year’s roster who pitched more than five innings last year are Ryan Bolda & Ryan Fender – how those two, along with other new faces on the roster, hold up to a full season’s worth of work will be a big factor on the Bulldogs’ season.

#6. 
VALPARAISO VIKINGS

LAST SEASON: 13-14

The record from last season isn’t pretty, but on a team loaded with underclassmen (just four seniors), many players were getting varsity experience for the first time. That should pay off well for Gang Green in 2018, as a vast majority of the roster is back. Will it be enough to compete with the upper echelon of the DAC? That remains to be seen.

#5.
MUNSTER MUSTANGS

LAST SEASON:
16-11

Coming into the 2018 season, Munster has one luxury on their side that not a whole lot of teams can claim – pitching experience. Of the seven pitchers who appeared on the mound for the Mustangs in ’17, only one (Mike Madura, who is playing at Central Michigan) is not back this year. That experience and depth is going to come in handy as the ‘Stangs try to keep pace with Andrean in the NCC and re-capture the Sectional #1 crown.

#4.
LAPORTE SLICERS

LAST SEASON:
20-9
Sectional Champs

The Slicers won the program’s 36th sectional title last season (second most in state history), ending a seven year drought – the longest in program history. In the quest to make it back-to-back titles, the Slicers have some holes to fill, particularly Andy Samuelson, but there’s plenty of talent remaining on the roster and history is on their side as well.

#3. 
LAKE CENTRAL INDIANS

LAST SEASON:
23-9
Sectional Champs

Few teams may have been hit harder by graduation losses than the Indians of Lake Central, as a ton of talent, particularly on the mound, has moved on to college careers. Thankfully for the Indians, Purdue commit Conner Tomasic returns after missing all of 2017 with an injury. He’ll provide stability, and leadership, both on the hill and in the middle of the diamond.

#2.
ANDREAN 59ERS

LAST SEASON:
26-9
Sectional Champ

After a two year stint in Class 4A, the Niners are back in Class 3A where they took home state titles in 2014 & 2015 before moving up.  Don’t be surprised if another trip to the 3A title game is in store for this team – they are absolutely loaded with talent both on the mound and in the lineup.

#1. 
CHESTERTON TROJANS

LAST SEASON:
19-9

Expectations are high for the Trojans in 2018 as Purdue-bound senior Austin Peterson leads a stellar rotation. Some graduation losses could hurt in lineup, but this is a team that averaged nearly seven runs a game a season ago. With their pitching staff, if the offense can score anywhere close to seven runs a game this year, Chesterton should make some post-season noise.

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