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May 22, 2013

BASEBALL SECTIONAL PREVIEW: Floyd, New Albany, Jeff expect tough field at Class 4A BNL Sectional

Creek, Charlestown to play in formidable Class 3A sectional

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Throughout the regular season, coaches in the Class 4A Bedford North Lawrence Sectional have said this year’s sectional field will be one of the most competitive in years.

That tune has not changed this week as first-round play of the sectional will start on Thursday.

After the sectional opener between Seymour and Bedford at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Class 4A No. 1 Floyd Central (27-2) will face county rival New Albany (22-6) in the second first-round game at about 7:30 p.m.

The opening-round winners will square off at 10 a.m. on Monday in the first semifinal, followed by Jeffersonville (19-5) and Jennings County (15-10) in the second semi at about 12:30 p.m. The championship game will be at 6 p.m. on Monday.

The three Class 4A area coaches — Floyd Central’s Casey LaDuke, Jeffersonville’s Derek Ellis and New Albany’s Chris McIntyre — all agree that the sectional draw does not mean a lot this year.

“In our sectional, there is no easy draw when you’ve got as many good teams, good players and good pitchers that’s in there,” McIntyre said. “Honestly, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. You just play the first team up. If you’re good enough and you win, you worry about the next game. If you start the second or third game down the road, there won’t be a second or third game down the road.”

LaDuke points out that the Class 4A sectional has close games each season and he says this year will be no different.

“In my past 14 years of coaching, so many of our sectional games have been low-scoring and one-run games. Because of the quality pitchers in our sectional, I expect that again,” LaDuke said.

When fans look at the Bedford Sectional draw, the defending sectional champion Red Devils seem to have an advantage. Jeff received a first-round bye and its top two pitchers — Trent Astle and Mark Meyer — have had great seasons.

But Ellis says Jeff’s path to repeating as sectional champions will not be a cakewalk by any means. The Red Devils will be playing Jennings County for the fourth time this season. Jeff won the previous three meetings.

“On paper, the draw looks good,” Ellis said. “But trying to beat Jennings again will not be easy.”

Ellis also thinks winning the sectional gets even tougher with all the teams coming from the Hoosier Hills Conference. Therefore, all the sectional teams know each other well and will come up with solid scouting reports.

“Some draws are more favorable than others. But our conference is so stinking tough that no game will be easy,” Ellis said. “Hopefully, the teams in the first round will beat each other up before Monday.”

Floyd Central has beaten New Albany in both of their matchups this season. The Highlanders defeated the Bulldogs on April 10 at Mount Tabor Field in New Albany, 10-5.

In the second meeting, New Albany led 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning in the first round of the HHC Tournament at Mount Tabor Field. But in the frame, the Highlanders scored five runs to rally and prevail 6-2.

“Floyd is going to be a handful for us,” McIntyre said. “But in the first game, we ended up having the tying run in scoring position. We outplayed them for 6 1/3 innings the next time we played them, so maybe we can play them for 21 outs in the sectional. But Floyd is so good that you can play a perfect game and you still may not win the game.”

LaDuke anticipates the third matchup with the Bulldogs to be a challenge. But he is confident the Highlanders can come out with a first-round victory.

“It’s going to be tough,” LaDuke said. “But we feel that we have a good team who can compete with anybody. The draw is what it is. We can’t control the draw. Whenever we are scheduled to play and whomever we are scheduled to play, we’ll show up ready to compete.”

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