FLOYDS KNOBS —
Class 4A No. 6 Floyd Central had to do some re-shuffling of its roster in the preseason after the Highlanders said goodbye to eight seniors from last season’s 29-3 team.
On Tuesday at Highlander Field, Floyd Central showed it has plenty of talent in the cupboard to make another run at the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament championship and the Class 4A New Albany Sectional title.
The Highlanders scored five runs in the first three innings and proceeded to defeat Class 4A No. 10 Fort Wayne Carroll in their season opener, 5-2.
“We did a lot of good things, but we’ve got some things to work on though,” Floyd Central coach Casey LaDuke said. “We’ve got a pretty good little team. We lost a lot from last year, but we’ve got a lot of key players returning. Our pitching staff is as deep as it has ever been. But we do have a few holes that we’ve got to fill, and there are a few things we have to figure out.
“They’re good players. We’ve just got to get them some experience now. Our goal is to be playing well in the last third of the season. The conference and the sectional are where we have to be real sharp.”
The Chargers (1-2) went up 1-0 in the top of the first inning when shortstop Grant Inman scored on a wild pitch, but Floyd Central answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half. Starting pitcher Kyle Beach helped himself in the frame by hitting a two-out, two-run single to center field, giving the Highlanders a 2-1 lead.
Floyd Central tacked on two more scores in the bottom of the second. Junior center fielder Aiden Cora knocked a base hit into center that drove in Charlie Loveall to increase the Highlanders’ advantage to 3-1.
Two batters later, junior catcher Trey Fulton hit a grounder to short. Teammate Mike Springer got forced out at second base, but Fulton beat out the throw to first for the fielder’s choice.
Meanwhile, Cora hustled from second to score and extend Floyd Central’s lead to three runs.
“We ran the bases well. We made some contact and scratched across a couple of runs,” LaDuke said.
The Highlanders’ fifth run came in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded and one out, Carroll reliever Cameron Kohli committed a balk to plate Floyd Central junior Colton Kimm from third.
The Chargers’ final run came in the top of the seventh as Kohli smacked an RBI double to right with two out.
Beach got the victory, allowing one earned run on two hits in four innings. The junior right-hander struck out five and walked three.
Floyd Central senior Alex Koopman relieved Beach in the fifth, yielding no runs on one hit in his lone inning of work. Highlander junior Brandon Smith threw the last two innings, giving up one run on one hit.
“We had planned on using two or three pitchers because it’s too early in the year to throw a lot,” LaDuke said.
LaDuke also lauded his team’s errorless defense. The best defensive play came in the top of the third. Springer, who was at shortstop, made a diving stop of a hard-hit grounder behind second and threw onto first for the first out of the inning.
“He’s just a heck of an athlete. He’s just been playing great at shortstop. It’s like he’s been there for five years,” LaDuke said about Springer. “Defensively, we did everything right.”
Floyd Central will host a split doubleheader on Saturday. It will face Guerin Catholic and South Dearborn.
FLOYD CENTRAL 5, FORT WAYNE CARROLL 2
FW Carroll 100 000 1—2 3 0
Floyd Central 221 000 x—5 5 0
W — Kyle Beach (1-0). L — Matt Meihls (0-1). 2B — Cameron Kohli (C). 3B — Grant Inman (C), Brandon Smith (FC).
Records — Floyd Central 1-0, Carroll 1-2.