Indians, Slicers Duneland favorites
Updated: March 28, 2011 9:38AM
After reaching the semistate last season, Lake Central has almost everyone back, and then some.
The Indians bring back all-conference standouts Sam Terry (.420 avg., 36 RBI), Nikki Adams (.391, 28 RBI) and Kaitlyn Ranieri (.459, 33 RBI), as well as pitcher Bridget Boyle (11-4 record, 2.76 ERA).
But joining them will be junior Morgan Moseley, who played at Andrean the last two seasons. She fits right in on a team with 13 sophomores and juniors with varsity experience and only two seniors. So the Indians are not only in great shape to contend for another regional title, the future is bright, too.
Lake Central's opponent in the regional was LaPorte, which won its second sectional title in three years by defeating state No. 1 Crown Point. And the Slicers are in a good position to make it a third sectional title.
They lost one of the players named Jessica Craft (no relation), but the one headed to Ball State in the fall is back after hitting .398 with six home runs last season. LaPorte's top two pitchers - Meghan Bunch and Hannah Fuller - are back, along with infielders Nichole Ott and Sam Becker.
Crown Point would like to forget about the Slicers' postseason, especially Craft, who hit the game-winning home run in the sectional final. The Bulldogs had a great regular season, but couldn't follow it up in the sectional.
CP should be in decent shape again to put itself in position to win. Yes, it lost both pitchers (Jackie Beilfuss and Taylor Perry) and all-area catcher Katrina Klingberg. But the Bulldogs return the majority of their offense, including Jessica Palm (.388, 25 RBI), RaeAnna Jenks (.389, 40 RBI), Tori Connelly (.404, 40 SB) and Allison Amodeo (.402).
Portage also will bring back the majority of its squad that lost to CP in the sectional semifinals. The Indians lose all-state shortstop Dani Bryan to graduation, but return pitchers Kylie Someson and Natalie Korpak, as well as outfielders Kristen Ashby and Nikki Cloyd and catcher Hayley Hodges.
"A lot will depend on how quickly new kids adapt," third-year coach Gil Arzola said. "It may take a few games to find our personality as a team, but we have a lot of potential."
Chesterton finished runner-up in the DAC last season, and the Trojans look to be better this year. Returning are outfielders Ryan Bozak and Heather Overla, and pitcher Taylor Harlow (16-5 record). Expectations are always high for coach LouAnn Hopson, and this year is no exception.
"Nineteen wins last season was great, but we are looking to make some noise in the postseason," she said.
Michigan City made huge strides last season in finishing 17-9. And like the rest of their sectional foes, the Wolves return most of their key players (eight of nine starters), including all-area second-teamer Jameka Collins (.429, 41 runs), who is only a sophomore.
Joining Collins are pitchers Peyton Webb and Breanna Miller and catcher Sarah Brinckman as the Wolves look to make some postseason noise.
Merrillville and Valparaiso both only had two wins last season. The Pirates return Gabby Ponce and all-conference infielder Mercedes McClendon with Jessica Vasquez and Mandy Banashak joining the team.
The Vikings have a new coach for the first time in a long time, but the transition should be easy since Tracy Corneil has been a Vikings' assistant for several years. She has senior Katherine Dalzatto (.274) and sophomores Molly Grant (.298) and Susan Friedlander returning.