Chris Ingels knows he cannot counter the tradition that is Shakamak baseball.
The Lakers’ program has won two state titles and been state runner-up five times since 2008. The program’s 26 sectional titles are top 10 all-time in the state of Indiana.
What Ingels counters with is young men not afraid of the moment.
Class A, No. 7-ranked Southwestern, a program record 22-4 and sectional champion for the first time since 1999, takes on No. 10 Shakamak (14-7) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the first semifinal game of the Class A Morristown Regional.
“We are ready to go,” said Ingels Thursday. “I have guys that have played in regional soccer games and regional basketball games. They’ve played in big games. We’ve been in enough big games and enough big moments that it won’t be too much for us.”
The second semifinal pits No. 13 Oldenburg Academy (15-7) against unranked Traders Point Christian (8-13-1).
The championship game is set for 7 p.m.
Ingels and the Spartans collected their sectional trophy Monday afternoon which allowed the Southwestern coach the opportunity to travel to White River Valley to see Shakamak win its sectional title, 4-1, over Bloomfield.
“They are really good in every way,” said Ingels. “They put the ball in play against a really good pitcher from Bloomfield.
“They put a lot of pressure on them. The last four innings it felt like (Shakamak) was in complete control.”
Ingels will send Southwestern’s ace, Anick Hartsell, to the mound. The senior is 8-0 this season and excels at moving the ball around the zone.
Ingels’ only concern is his team doesn’t let one mistake turn into multiple ones because the margin of error to defeat the Lakers will be minimal.
A regional semifinal win sets up a possible rematch with Oldenburg Academy, who pounded the Spartans, 19-3, on April 17 at the South Dearborn Invitational.
In retrospect, Ingels believes that loss was a big catalyst to moving the season forward.
The Spartans had single conference games Thursday and Friday leading up to the invitational. Then South Dearborn stunned them in a 13-2 victory ahead of the game with the Twisters.
“We weren’t mentally prepared for that,” said Ingels. “We were immature how we approached that day. We were thinking a little highly of ourselves, got slapped in the face and didn’t handle it well. That knocked us back and we realized we had to approach things differently.”
Ingels credits a loss at Shelbyville a week later as helpful as well.
“That gave us some confidence,” he said of losing a late game lead against the Golden Bears. “A lot of little mistakes kept compounding on each other but we’ve been a lot tougher mentally and physically.”
Southwestern, Oldenburg Academy and Traders Point Christian are all seeking first regional titles. Shakamak has won 12 regionals.