COLUMN: Rain delays big county rematch

Thursday, April 18, 2013

While it's far too early to begin handing out post-season, or even mid-season awards, there have been several stars on the diamond in the early going.

Too bad the recent rainfall has washed away their chance to shine.

Senior Justin Bumgardner is on pace to break the South Putnam school-record for walks in a season and the Eagles have gotten off to a much more competitve start than many believed would happen.

The SPHS softball team is going through some growing pains, which was expected after graduating last year's Miss Softball, but their offense (senior Jenna Jones, junior Kenzie Trisler and -- in a surprise -- freshman Katie Hewitt in particular are swinging hot bats.

Greencastle has a lot of young talent in both baseball and softball, and they're starting to find a rhythm.

The Tigers Cubs' baseball team has impressive depth at pitching. While there isn't a big, All-County type arm to lead the staff, they've been able to mix in different pieces to throw strikes and allow their offense to give them a chance.

The GHS softball team has found a potential future ace in freshman Madi Fauvergue. If she can stay healthy the Tiger Cubs can win a lot of games for her during the next four years.

One of my favorite things about that team, by the way, is how sophomore shortstop Taylor Stoltey flashes a signal for each pitch to the outfield. GHS's lone senior, Ellen Gobert, has been able to get nice breaks on balls because she can anticipate where it'll go.

Sadly, my chance to enjoy any of this has been postponed for the past couple days, and in particular, the rematch between the North Putnam and Cloverdale baseball teams.

Their softball teams had an exciting game on Monday as well with the Cougars sneaking to a 7-5 win, but it didn't have quite the edge of the hardball diamond.

Quick thoughts on the softball teams before I move on: North Putnam has been mashing, especially at the top of the order. Having Katie Welch, the Cougars leading hitter as a sophomore, return for her senior year has given them a nice boost, and the emergence of freshmen Lauren "Pebbles" Johnston and Claire Sims has helped them move from the basement to the top of the West Central Confernce standings.

And that's all without mentioning sophomore pitcher Sabrina Surber, who has piled up more than 90 strikeouts in six games (all wins).

Cloverdale's softball team took a big hit when freshman Lauren Patterson went down last week with an ankle injury, but they've shifted their infield to help overcome it. Bradanne Toney has been a force on both sides of the ball.

But back to baseball.

North Putnam remains unbeaten after pulling out a come-from-behind win at Cloverdale on Monday.

The players on both sides had been looking forward to the showdown for more than a week and the game did not disappoint.

NPHS snuck out a 4-3 when senior Michael "Clear the Mechanism" Herrmann drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh.

The Clovers got an offensive threat going in the bottom, but Jake Haste shut it down with a pair of Ks (he had 11 in the game).

Cloverdale's offensive and defensive leader, catcher Austin Mannan, was handled very carefully throughout, and he was walked twice. Haste challenged him in the seventh and Mannan didn't get the chance for redemption on Tuesday that he'd hoped for.

Back to Herrmann.

"Clear the Mechanism" comes from a mostly overlooked baseball movie starring Kevin Costner, For the Love of the Game.

Costner's character says it when he wants to really focus, and that's exactly what CTM Herrmann has been doing all season.

After taking last season off, Herrmann has come back this year and been dominant. He has a 0.00 ERA on the mound (limited innings so far), but his offense and fielding has been a revelation.

He's hitting a team-best .414 with 13 RBIs, but more than that each hit and RBI has seemed to come at a key situation. Adding Herrmann to the All-County talent of Kyler Badten and Haste might mean if Cloverdale can't stop the Cougars, when the rematch comes, it could be a while.

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