Center Grove’s baseball team hopes to spend Saturday proving it’s in a league of its own.
The Class 4A Evansville Reitz Regional is being played inside historic 5,200-seat Bosse Field, which had a starring role in the 1991 movie, “A League of Their Own”.
“I played there when I was in college. It’s awesome,” said second-year Trojans coach Keith Hatfield, a former University of Indianapolis player, remembering one game in particular against the University of Southern Indiana.
“With travel baseball I know our players have all played at bigger schools, but I bet they’ve never played in a place like Bosse,” Hatfield said.
Ranked fifth in the final Class 4A poll, Center Grove takes a 24-5 record to the century-old stadium for a 1 p.m. semifinal against Evansville Reitz. Bloomington South plays No. 3 Floyd Central in the 11 a.m. semifinal.
At 18-10, Reitz isn’t ranked or even receiving votes in the Class 4A poll. But that makes Hatfield even more leery of the tournament host.
“I know they’re playing well right now,” he said. “Any time you play a team with 18 wins, you have to worry about them.”
Coach Todd Deweese’s Panthers permitted only one run in sectional wins against Evansville North and Evansville Central.
Center Grove takes the field riding a six-game winning streak, in which the Trojans have outscored opponents a combined 39-5.
Hard-throwing junior pitcher Jake Cantleberry has an 8-1 record for Center Grove. He has 94 strikeouts and allowed only 22 walks.
Cantleberry’s earned run average is 0.63. The Trojans as a team sport a 1.47 ERA.
Cantleberry isn’t the Trojans’ only efficient pitching weapon. Teammate Jade Doyle is 4-0, and Jack Kellams and Connor Cantrell are both bringing 4-1 records to the nation’s third-oldest ballpark. Joey Drury has picked up all four of the Trojans’ saves.
“Our pitching has been phenomenal all season long, and our hitting is starting to come back around,” Hatfield said.
At the plate it’s been senior lead-off hitter Devon Hensley leading the way with team-high totals of home runs (7), doubles (9), runs (30), RBIs (24) and stolen bases (15).
Josh Martin’s .461 average tops all Center Grove hitters. Eathan Stephen and Tye Thixton also have enjoyed success with their bats, averaging .333 and .321, respectively.
Center Grove is seeking to become a regional champion for the first time since 1996 and for the sixth time in team history. That was also the season Floyd Central picked up its lone regional title.
IF YOU GO
What: Evansville Reitz Regional
Where: Bosse Field
11 a.m. – Floyd Central vs. Bloomington South
1 p.m. – Center Grove vs. Evansville Reitz
Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.