Southwestern baseball won the Shelby County Tournament for the first time since 1998.
The Spartans collected a share of the Mid-Hoosier Conference championship for the first time since 1975.
The next milestone sought is a sectional championship, which would be the program’s first since 1999.
The Class A, No. 7-ranked Spartans (19-4) open postseason play today at the Morristown Sectional against Lutheran (8-18). With a win over the Saints, Southwestern would earn a Saturday semifinal contest against either Greenwood Christian (11-12) or Edinburgh (0-15).
The other semifinal game Saturday at Morristown pits the host Yellow Jackets (9-14) against Waldron (7-16).
The sectional championship game is set for 10 a.m. Monday.
“We’re capable of winning a sectional but it’s going to be a tough one,” said Southwestern head coach Chris Ingels, in his eighth season with the Spartans.
Southwestern defeated Lutheran, 8-1, on May 10 but with the sectional draw already announced, neither team rolled out its best pitcher.
“We hit the ball fairly well that day. If we show up and hit, put the ball in play, good things will happen for us,” said Ingels.
Ingels will send Anick Hartsell (6-0, 1.82 earned run average) to the mound against Lutheran.
Hartsell also bats third in the lineup, hitting .353 this season with 31 runs scored and 23 runs batted in.
Aiden Hartsell jump starts the offense from the leadoff position. He is hitting .360 with 26 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.
Jordan Jones follows with a .471 average and team-highs in doubles (9) and runs (33).
The lineup is deep with Ethan Wendling (.471, team-high 7 triples and 31 RBIs) and Matthew Clements (.500, 28 runs, 26 RBIs) batting after Anick Hartsell.
The Spartans are hitting .354 as a team and averaging 9.7 runs per game.
Southwestern’s success is not a surprise this season. If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Ingels believes a similar season was on tap for 2020.
“We have good, talented kids that have had success in other sports as well,” said Ingels. “We are just finally getting over the hump and winning big games.”
A win over Hauser earned Southwestern a share of the MHC title. And beating Triton Central in the championship game of the county tournament ended over a decade of success for the Tigers.
“That meant so much to the guys,” said Ingels of dethroning Triton Central. “That meant a lot to me. We finally did it.”
Ingels will count on his veteran on-field leaders to navigate the Spartans through three games at the sectional and, hopefully, a return trip to Morristown for a rare regional appearance.
“I’m not looking ahead to the regional yet,” said Ingels. “We are preparing to beat Lutheran.”
Bloomington North Sectional
Shelbyville (16-12) starts sectional play tonight at 8 p.m. against Columbus East (12-12-1). The Golden Bears and Olympians have not met this season on the diamond.
The sectional opener tonight at 6 p.m. pits East Central (15-10) against Class 4A, No. 2-ranked Columbus North (22-4-1).
The two winners tonight return to Bloomington Friday for a 6 p.m. semifinal contest.
The second semifinal features Bloomington South (12-8) against Bloomington North (9-9).
The sectional championship is 6 p.m. Monday.
Charlie Rife leads the Shelbyville offense with a .449 average. The junior has eight doubles, three home runs and 28 RBIs this season.
Bennie Thompson is 6-3 with a 2.61 ERA to lead the pitching staff. The Anderson University commit has twirled two no-hitters this season.
Heritage Christian Sectional
Triton Central (13-13) opens the Class 2A sectional in Indianapolis today at 5 p.m. against Scecina (11-16).
The Tigers suffered a 10-6 loss to the Crusaders on May 20.
The first sectional semifinal game is Thursday at 5 p.m. with the host Eagles (13-15) taking on Eastern Hancock (6-14).
Knightstown (13-12) awaits the winner of the TC/Scecina game for a semifinal showdown at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The sectional championship game is set for 11 a.m. Monday.