It’s the final season of the 2016-17 high school calendar, and it’s time for me to turn on the prediction machine one more time.
It’s hit or miss, and I’ve been more miss than hit this year, but I’m as confident as the weather is consistent.
Sorry, bad analogy. It seems like this spring has been worse than recent years when it comes to weather issues. It was starting to get better, until Friday and Saturday. Now La Crosse and South Central have to face each other on Monday in the Porter County Conference Tournament semifinal that was supposed to take place on Friday — with the championship on Saturday at Washington Township. Now that final is on Tuesday, with the Satellites opening the Class A LaVille Sectional on Wednesday and the Tigers opening in the same sectional on Thursday.
Not exactly ideal for their pitching staffs under the new pitch-count rules. How will it affect them in the sectional? That prediction is in a few paragraphs. But as they say, ladies first …
In Class 4A, Chesterton should roll in its own sectional as the Trojans open with Michigan City Monday, then gets the winner of Hobart-Portage. Merrillville at Valparaiso is the other semifinal, so the Trojans are the class of the bracket.
In the Penn Sectional, La Porte gets the unenviable draw of facing the 4A No. 1 Kingsmen on Tuesday. The Slicers hung with them last year before losing, and that’s about all they can hope for this year unless senior pitcher Reily Galloway can strike out 20 in a perfect game. I wish I could predict La Porte, but I’m trying not to be a homer this season. Penn will continue its domination.
South Bend St. Joseph will win its Class 3A sectional, as the host Indians will face Culver Academies in the opener, then the winner of New Prairie-Mishawaka Marian. The Cougars have played well at times this season, but Marian will be too much for them.
In Class A, there’s some hope for area teams. Westville hosts one sectional in which Marquette competes, while South Central and La Crosse actually face each other on Tuesday in the West Central Sectional. Morgan Township is the favorite, while Marquette should reach the final after a good regular season. The record says 17-7, but it’s not really that number since a Marquette administrator confirmed the Blazers had to forfeit a large number of games due to an ineligible player. That doesn’t take away from their season and Lauren McConnell in the circle and batter’s box gives them a chance every game.
Just one problem: The schedule is illogical and head shaking. Morgan opens on Monday with Hammond Academy, while Marquette faces Kouts on Tuesday, and Washington Township plays Covenant Christian on Thursday (why not Wednesday?). Westville faces the winner of Monday’s game on Friday, and the Marquette-Kouts winner plays the Washington-Covenant winner on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., with the championship to follow. That means if Marquette wins on Tuesday, it has a distinct disadvantage against Morgan, which will likely be waiting with a day of rest. I’m going to pick the Blazers to win just because they need to have a chip on their shoulder because of the unfair, dopey schedule.
At West Central, look for the Satellites to survive a tough rivalry game against the Tigers, and then roll to their third straight sectional title.
In 4A, La Porte hasn’t been playing well as the regular season ended. But the postseason is a different story, and the Slicers open with a decent, but beatable South Bend Clay squad on Wednesday. The winner gets a decent Mishawaka team, while Michigan City is on the other side of the draw with a beatable South Bend Riley on Thursday, then the winner of Plymouth-SB Adams, both under the .500 mark.
If the Slicers can play the way they were a couple weeks ago, and the Wolves can show some of the improvement they have over the last couple weeks, we could see the La Porte-City final on Memorial Day. Even if City doesn’t get there — though I think they will — I’m going with the Slicers to win.
In the Chesterton Sectional, it will come down to Chesterton and Andrean, which used to be in 3A before the success factor. The Trojans won last year, and I’m going with them again with a long postseason run ahead for the talented Austin Peterson and his teammates.
New Prairie has been decent this season at one game above .500. But the Cougars get a very good SB St. Joseph team in the semifinal of the 3A Jimtown Sectional. Sorry, but the Indians will win the bracket.
South Central is in the same Class A LaVille Sectional as La Crosse and Oregon-Davis. The Satellites open with Culver Community on Wednesday, then get O-D in a Saturday semifinal. The Tigers face a beatable Argos squad, but will lose to host LaVille in the semifinals. Look for the Satellites and their deep pitching staff to overcome a busy week to edge the Lancers in the final.
In the Washington Township Sectional, Marquette will have trouble with Covenant Christian in its opener on Friday. The Blazers will win, but lose to Morgan Township in the semis. ON the other side of the bracket, Westville and first-year coach Larry Babcock have a favorable draw and will make the final before losing to the Cherokees.
There you go … your softball and baseball winners, though I wouldn’t take them to the bank, per se, based on my track record this year.
Reach sports editor Steve T. Gorches at email@example.com or (219) 214-4206. Follow him on Twitter @SteveTGorches.