Category Archives: Baseball

FC wraps up successful sports year

By J.D. McKay

It is my last column of this school year, so it is time for an end of the year wrap up. All in all, we have had a great year. Unfortunately, we have come up short in a few sectionals, but we have also had success against New Albany.

Girls’ cross country was very good. They won their regional and got second at semi-state by two points. Junior Sydney Liddle followed in her dad’s footsteps and became FC’s first second generation all-state athlete. Next year, the girls have a very real chance of winning team state and Liddle could win individual state. The boys’ cross country also won regionals. They were led by junior Luke Heinemann, who finished sixth there and could win regionals next year if he stays healthy. They only graduated two guys, so they could win semi-state next year.

Football had a pretty good year, too. They beat New Albany, Jeff, and Providence. It was their first year with new head coach James Bragg. The conference was very tough this year and their 5-5 record was pretty good for the level of competition. Next year, the sectional is winnable for all the teams in it, the first time FC has been in a winnable sectional in three years.

Girls’ volleyball had a good year. They beat New Albany and Jeff. They have a tough sectional and came up short against Providence in the sectional championship. The boys’ had a terrific fifth season. They were ranked in the top four for most of the season. They also beat Trinity. They lost in the state semifinals to eventual champion Roncalli.

Girls’ soccer had another good season. They won sectionals against Seymour 2-1. Junior Katie Yankey was all-state. They could be very good next year. They lost a few seniors, but they have a lot of talented returning juniors. Boys’ soccer also won sectionals 1-0 over Jeff. They had a big senior class, so they might have a tough year next year. However, junior Xander Ochsner is very good and could lead them to a successful year and sectional championship.

If you asked one of the players on our boys’ basketball team, they would probably call the season a disappointment. However, they had a very good year. They beat New Albany in the regular season and tied Jeff for first in the conference. Unfortunately, they lost to New Albany, who overcame some adversity and injuries to play a great game. Their head coach, Jim Shannon, also ran a tough triangle and two defense that made senior Cobie Barnes and sophomore Jake Heidbreder less of a threat. Barnes was all-state.

The girls’ season was pretty good. They went in with mixed expectations. They were hit with the injury bug again but still managed to beat New Albany and Providence. They have a lot of underclassmen so if they stay healthy they could be good next year.

Boys’ and girls’ swimming both had a pretty typical year by their standards. Both went undefeated during the regular season. Both won conference and sectionals. Both teams have pretty good senior classes, but they also have lots of underclassmen talent, so they should continue their success.

Wrestling had a decent season. They beat New Albany in sectionals. Unfortunately, they did not win sectionals. However, they had two all-state wrestlers, junior Jonathan Kervin and sophomore Gavinn Alstott. Freshman J Conway also went to state. Those three alone make the future of FC wrestling bright.

Boys’ golf dominated like it always does. They will easily win sectionals next week. They may even have two finishers in the top three. The girls’ also dominated like they usually do. Freshman Sophie Cook won, sophomore Zoe Hoehn got second, and junior Francesca Hartlage got third.

Baseball had a better year than many were expecting. They beat New Albany as well as Castle who was ranked very highly at the time. Ultimately, they lost in their sectional which is very tough, boasting New Albany and Jeff.

Softball had kind of a weird season. They started the year playing below their talent level. But as the season progressed, they improved. That led to beating Seymour in sectionals after losing to them in the regular season. Unfortunately, they lost to Jennings County 2-4 after being up 2-0 going into the last inning. Next year, they will be led by junior Taryn Weddle, who will be going to Louisville after she graduates.

Girls’ track had a successful season. They won sectionals and conference. They have two freshmen, Annalise Zeinemann and Reece Davis, who are going to state as pole vaulters. The 4 by 800 meter relay advanced to state as well as the 4 by 400 meter relay. Junior Sydney Liddle and Chloe Loftus is going to state for the 2 mile. The boys’ season was disappointing. They lost sectionals for the first time in 17 years after going into the season with a chance at winning regionals. However, senior Cam Sturgeon is going to state for discus, senior Devon Montgomery for pole vault, and senior Jon Gunn for the 100-yard dash. The 4 by 800 meter relay also is going to state.

Girls’ tennis has had a successful year. They won sectionals over Eastern Pekin in straight sets. Boys’ tennis had probably the best season of any team. They advanced all the way to state before losing to eventual state champion Carmel. They are only losing one senior, all-state Lucas Sakamaki. They should be very good next year.

The last sports are the unified sports, track and football. This was the first year for unified football. It was not a great season competitively, but that is not the main goal of unified sports like it is for some other sports. It is a fun chance for impaired students to compete with their classmates. Some schools should probably put more focus into this aspect than the competitive aspect. Unified track also did not have an outstanding competitive season, but once again, that is not the main goal. The main goal is to try new things and give all types of kids a chance to be on an FC team.

This has been a pretty good year for FC, but the future looks even brighter. This talented senior class will be hard to replace but there is a lot of talent below it. Be sure to stay connected with FC sports by reading my column next school year. My first column will be on July 31.

Pro baseball is making changes

By J.D. McKay

This summer I began working for the Louisville Bats Ground Crew. It is a pretty sweet job, and I am having a lot of fun, but that is not the point. Baseball is evolving. I am sure that anyone who follows sports has heard something like this: “Baseball fans are dying,” or “baseball is boring and losing popularity.” Baseball has heard them, especially minor leagues, and is making changes.

One change is making uniforms fun and entertaining for fans. The MLB has recently started a players weekend where players are allowed to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Plus, they wear special Mother’s Day, Veterans Day, Father’s Day and Fourth of July hats and uniforms.

The Minor Leagues have not stopped at those holidays to wear special uniforms. On May 4 they often wear Star Wars uniforms to celebrate May the Fourth be with you. One new very cool thing most of the MILB is doing is adding Copa de la Diversion uniforms. They take their team’s typical uniforms, and make it something from Spanish-speaking culture. For example, the Delmarva Shorebirds are becoming the Gallos de Delmarva, meaning the Roosters of Delmarva. The Bats are becoming the Murciélagos de Louisville and wearing them on June 28. Those uniforms will make the game a little more fun, and you will get to see me dragging the field between the fourth and fifth innings. The Bats also introduced the Louisville Mashers last year and the Derby City Mint Juleps this year. Both uniforms have dope hats and jerseys.

The MILB also introduced a pitch timer in 2015. If it took a pitcher more than 20 second to pitch, a ball was called without throwing a pitch. This fixed some things, but it did not always fix the problem. For example, if I am at a game, it will inevitably take four hours, even with the timer. However, just last Tuesday, I was at a game that took one hour and 59 minutes. So the timer can be successful.

The last change is the amount of dingers hit. It is wild. Homers are being hit at an alarming rate over the past two years and into this year. There are several explanations for this. One is that bat angles are changing, accounting for more strikeouts but also more homeruns. Another part is that athletes are getting bigger, faster, and stronger, so that probably accounts for it. The last, partial conspiracy is that baseballs are being made differently. Some people say that baseballs are being made basically to add more pop. That seems unlikely to me, but it is certainly possible. Pro baseball has denied that a lot.

Baseball can certainly do more to be more interesting, it could add a DH to the NL. That is kind of a lame idea that real baseball fans like myself disagree with, but small fans might like that more. They could also play fewer games. That is unlikely, but it could happen if the game was truly collapsing.

All in all, baseball will not ever completely die. It is the first sport many Americans play, so that feeling of their first home run will always stick with them. I am sure that some parts will change over my life, and I am looking forward to seeing what. But right now, baseball is evolving at all levels.

 

FC nearing the end of another dominant year over rivals

By J.D. McKay

On March 1, New Albany beat us for the first time this school year in any sport. Losing to them in the second round of sectionals certainly was not what we were hoping for. But like college basketball analysts sometimes say, sometimes a loss is what a team needs. That loss seemed to point out how good we have it athletically at FC.

We have also dominated our rivals in most if not every sport this year. On Monday our girls’ tennis team won their matches against New Albany. That win meant that we had defeated the Dogs in every sport at least once this season. Unfortunately, I could not find the exact record between schools because several sports like golf, track, cross country, and wrestling are not head-to-head and sometimes neither team wins the meet. It is also incredibly hard to find these stats.

New Albany was not the only rival we dominated this year, although we have had the best record against them. We have also beat Jeffersonville and Providence pretty consistently.

Just this year we have already had won eight sectional championships in 13 sports. This spring, we  will add to that total. There are six spring sports, and winning five of those sectionals is definitely possible, but we could potentially win all six with a little luck and outstanding play.

I expect the boys’ and girls’ track teams to both win sectionals. The main competition in those sports sectionals is New Albany, and both teams have already beaten New Albany once this year. Two boys’ track athletes I expect to excel the rest of this season are senior Cam Sturgeon and senior Jon Gunn. Sturgeon has a real chance to win state and will be all-state. Gunn can fly. He should carry the title of 100 and 200 meter dash champion out of this sectional after winning both last year. I expect freshman Annalise Zeinemann to win pole vault sectionals and could make a real splash in regionals–maybe even state. Plus, junior Sydney Liddle, who was all-state in cross country, has a chance to be all-state in a second sport this year in a long distance event.  

Baseball is the only team I am not expecting to win their sectional. Our team is talented, but we also have a very competitive sectional. New Albany and Jeff are both very good. We have defeated New Albany and lost to Jeff. However, if senior Adam Spalding, who tossed a no-hitter last night, can have another dominant pitching performance over either Jeff or New Albany, and senior Blake Barrett can light it up from the plate like he did against New Albany earlier this year, I could see them winning sectionals.

Softball should win sectionals and potentially go deep into state. Our team has a plethora of future college softball players including seniors Cassie Thomerson (Indiana State) and Dallas Henderson (Indiana University Southeast). As long as our players play up to their potential, the team could advance far past sectionals.

We typically have the best boys’ golf team in the area, and I do not see that changing. Last year, we won sectionals and had three golfers come in the top five. Senior Harrison Eades finished third, graduate Dylan Zink got fourth, and junior Reece Compton got fifth. One of the opponents that finished above Eades and Compton has since graduated, and the winner from Corydon is within reach of Eades or Compton.

Our girls’ tennis team should also win sectionals. They won sectionals last year in straight sets and I do not expect that to change. While we did lose two seniors, Kate Sparrow–a doubles player was the biggest loss–junior Katie Weimer should step up and fill that role.

It is almost the end of the 2018-19 school year and time is running out of time to get to an event if you have not yet. It is a good time to be a Highlander. Do not miss out.

Flawed officiating must be fixed on the biggest stage

By J.D. McKay

On Saturday night, Virginia and 2016 Indiana Mr. Basketball Kyle Guy beat this year’s Cinderella, Auburn. Guy sank three straight free throws after a foul with 1.5 seconds left. For some weird reason, I was feeling like a particularly passionate Auburn fan, so I was shocked by the outcome.

After I pulled myself together, CBS officiating analyst Gene Steratore said that the officials missed a double dribble on Virginia that would have given Auburn the ball with about 2.5 seconds left, up two. It is worth mentioning that both my dad and I noticed this missed call live. Had the double dribble been called, the Tigers would have inbounded a pass and been fouled, forcing a one-and-one. Now, Auburn may have missed the first, and Virginia may have hit the half-court buzzer beater to go to the National Championship, but they also might not have. Auburn also may have hit both going up four with about 1.5 seconds left, sending them to the National Championship.

So minutes after the Final Four game I wrote down my thoughts, and I realized, this is not the first of the Major Six (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball) championships to have a tainted pair of teams.

The Super Bowl featured the Rams, who probably should not have been in. After the two-minute warning, the Saints had a chance to score a touchdown that probably would have sent them to the Super Bowl. But after a missed pass interference call, the Saints kicked a field goal with enough time left for the Rams to kick a field goal of their own and send the game to OT, eventually winning. Once again, the outcome could have been the same had the Saints missed the field goal, still forcing overtime and eventually a loss, but we will never know because the call was missed.

There are missed calls in every game, so any call could have been missed and the outcome of the game been changed, but these are memorable because they are on the biggest stages at the biggest moments. It does not help the officials, either, that these missed calls can be replayed in super slow-mo.

There is not one easy fix to this problem. Humans will always make errors, but we have developed better technology, so why not use that to fix our errors? As I said above, these games are played in super slow-mo for fans, so why not have a group of officials either at the game or in a neutral place like New York? They could call in any missed call that is objectively wrong, like for instance, a double dribble. However, if that was instituted for the whole game, they might never end. To resolve this, the “New York Official” would only make calls within the last two minutes.

The NCAA could also resolve it the way the NFL did: challenges. However, this slows the game down significantly and would be weird for basketball. They would have to wait until after the play ended then asked the officials to look at the play. They could either have two for the whole game or just one at the end of each half.

Officiating may not be getting worse. It may be the same quality as always; however, with high def replays, we can always see when they are wrong. This technology cannot just be ignored for the improvement of the game. Several years ago, the MLB allowed for coaches’ challenges. This league that seemed like it would forever be stuck in the past came forward and made use of technology. That made some baseball fans mad, but all together was better for the game. Basketball and football have developed some strategies to make use of the technology and improve the game.

However, it seems to me that some small things can be done to get the correct calls, not lengthen the games, and, in the playoffs, give fans and players the champions as they probably should be.

 

Previewing the 2019 MLB season

By J.D. McKay

The longest pro sports season has finally rolled around. It will not be done until November. A season that long is hard to predict, but I will try my best and hopefully get a couple of predictions correct.

National League: This league is a bit of a toss up because of the new talent. All three division winners from last season kept their star players, but some of the weaker teams added stars. For example, the Reds signed Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. The Padres signed Manny Machado. The Phillies signed Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen. However, I see Harper as inconsistent and a little overrated. He has only had two seasons batting above 300 and usually bats closer to 250, very average for a MLB player.

I expect the Braves, Brewers, and Dodgers to all win their divisions for the second straight year. But I think the Reds will end their years of playing like garbage and make the playoffs as a wild card team. The Rockies will be the other wild card team. The Rockies will beat Puig and the Reds before losing to the Dodgers. The Braves will beat the Brewers in a rematch from last season’s playoffs before losing to the Dodgers who will be going to their third straight World Series.

American League: In the AL, I think that it will go about the same as it did last year. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros will be the best teams. The Red Sox will again win the AL east, and the Yankees will play the Angels in the wild card. Then, the Yankees will play the Red Sox and the Astros will play the AL Central champion Indians. This year the Yankees will finally get over the Red Sox but will lose to the Astros in the ALCS. For the second time in three years, the Dodgers will play the Astros in the World Series. However, this time the Dodgers will finally win in a six-game series.

Awards: This year’s AL Cy Young winner will be Trevor Bauer. Bauer is a pitcher who is very underrated. After being a pretty run-of-the-mill pitcher for the first several years of his career, he figured out his mechanics and dropped his ERA two points. He had the third lowest ERA in the majors last year and probably would have been the Cy Young winner had he pitched more innings. The NL Cy Young winner will be Jacob deGrom. Last year, his ERA was 1.70. However, with that low of an ERA, the wins did not come. He only won 10 games, had 9 losses, and 13 no decisions. The AL MVP will be Mike Trout, showing that he deserved the insane 12 year 440 million dollar contract. It honestly would not surprise me if deGrom also won NL MVP, but I will pick another actual position player. I expect Machado to win the award, even though he is on a average team.