> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
After two months of regular-season games, four local softball sectionals in four different classes open tonight.
Two of the sectionals (Class 4A at Jeffersonville and Class 3A at Salem) appear to be wide open. In the other two (Class 2A Eastern and Class A Lanesville) has two clear favorites.
Here’ a look at each of the area’s four sectionals with picks by News and Tribune sports editor Greg Mengelt.
CLASS 4A AT JEFFERSONVILLE
• Favorite: In a sectional this tight, the favorite has to be the defending champion. That’s Floyd Central. The Highlanders have won six of the last 12 titles. However, there really isn’t a favorite in this sectional. There are five teams that could win it.
• Top contender: Jeffersonville played for the Hoosier Hills Conference championship and have the homefield advantage. That makes the Red Devils very dangerous in pursuit of their first sectional championship since 1997.
• Darkhorse: With the field this wide open, there really isn’t a darkhorse. Every team but Bedford is a legitimate threat (and the Stars have improved throughout the season). Seymour would have to go through Floyd, Jeff then either Jennings County or New Albany to win the title, so the Owls are a longshot. That still doesn’t mean they have no shot.
• Best draw: Jennings County. The HHC champions drew the bye and a New Albany team they’ve beaten twice. The Panthers will only have to win two games and will likely have to face Floyd or Jeff, not both.
• Players to watch: Kayleigh Thomas and Emily Gray, Jeffersonville. Thomas and Gray both have the ability to pitch and hit the Red Devils to the championship.
• Top storyline: As it’s been established, this may be the most wide-open field in the state, as well as one of the best from top to bottom. There doesn’t appear to be a single game that has a heavy favorite. Like last year, this sectional will likely come down to one or two key plays in each game.
• Greg’s pick: Jeffersonville. It’s just a gut feeling. The Devils have the experience, the pitching, the hitting and the defense to be able to pull this off. Floyd, Jennings, New Albany and Seymour would all be legitimate picks.