> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Jeffersonville’s baseball has been named the preseason favorite in Class 4A by the Indiana High School baseball coaches.
After going 22-7 and making last year’s Final Four, the Red Devils received 92 points, 10 more than No. 2 Cathedral, in the 4A poll. The Irish knocked off Jeff in last year’s semistate before falling 1-0 to Elkhart Central in the state championship game.
“It’s nice to be recognized and respected by our peers,” Jeff second-year coach Derek Ellis said, “and we appreciate those who think we are worthy of it, but our goal isn’t to be No. 1 before we’ve even played a game. We want to be No. 1 on June 21 [the day of the state championship game].”
Westfield is No. 3, followed by Hobart and Brownsburg. Floyd Central, which spent almost all of last season in the top spot before being eliminated by Jeffersonville, opens at No. 6 in Class 4A. The Highlanders went 29-3 in 2013.
Silver Creek, which was 23-7 last year, will start the 2014 season at No. 3 in the Class 3A poll. The back-to-back sectional champions are ranked behind only defending state champion Norwell and runner-up Jasper, which ended the Dragons’ season in the opening round of last year’s regional. Charlestown, which went 24-7 a year ago, will open the 2014 campaign tied for sixth in Class 3A with Northfield.
No local teams were ranked in Class 2A or Class A, although South Central of the Southern Athletic Conference is No. 3 in Class A. Defending 2A champion South Spencer opens the season at No. 1 in 2A, while state runner-up Vincennes Rivet is No. 1 in Class A.
PROVIDENCE SOFTBALL RANKED EIGHTH
Several area softball teams are ranked in the preseason Indiana Softball Coaches’ poll, but only Providence made the top 10.
Coming off their first regional championship since 2005, the Pioneers will open the 2014 campaign ranked No. 8 in the Class 2A poll. Evansville Mater Dei, which eliminated Providence 14-4 in last year’s regional, tops the 2A poll. Providence’s sectional rival, Henryville, is No. 14 in 2A. Clarksville will open at No. 30.
New Washington earned a No. 20 ranking in the preseason after dropping a 1-0 decision in the sectional championship game to Lanesville, which opens at No. 4. The Eagles went on to a regional championship before falling to state runner-up Tecumseh in the semistate last season. Tecumseh opens the season on top of the Class A poll after Lakewood Park moved up to Class 2A following its state title.
Defending sectional champion Charlestown will begin 2014 as the top area team at No. 14. The Pirates except to battle No. 22 Salem again for sectional supremacy. Defending champion Tri-West is No. 1.
No local teams are ranked in Class 4A. Defending sectional champion Jennings County will start the season at No. 9. State champion Portage returns as the No. 1 team in 4A.