Imagine being a sectional champion, having the fewest losses in Class 3A and not being ranked in the state poll.
If you can imagine all that, then you know what it’s like being a member of the Indian Creek baseball team, which continues to fly — or rather, win — under the radar.
“Yes, and I’m fine with that,” Braves first-year coach Eddie Willis said. “I like being the underdog where nobody’s thinking about us, for sure.”
By now, opponents are surely thinking about the Braves, even though pollsters never did.
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At 17-2, the Braves have the fewest losses of any team in the final Class 3A poll — a poll they never cracked or even received votes for.
But no matter.
Indian Creek has what it values most: a sectional championship and chance to continue its season at Saturday’s Crawfordsville Regional.
That’s been the Braves’ mission all along.
“At the very first practice, we set a goal,” sophomore shortstop Dawson Read said. “Since we knew that we had a very good team and our pitching was deep, we set one goal, and that was to win sectionals and then see how far we go from there.”
If results are an indication, the Braves can go as far any contender in Class 3A.
Powered by a deep pitching staff and potent hitting, Indian Creek opened the season with 14 straight wins, won the Mid-Hoosier Conference championship and crushed Greencastle 13-1 in Monday’s championship game of the Danville Sectional.
In between, the Braves earned impressive wins against Class 4A rivals Greenwood and Whiteland and were competitive against Class 4A power Center Grove in a 5-1 semifinal loss in the Johnson County Tournament.
Indian Creek’s only other loss was a 6-5 setback May 19 at Eastern Hancock.
“Our confidence level is really, really high,” said senior outfielder Sam Willis, a four-year starter. “We beat big teams like Greenwood, Knightstown and Whiteland.
“Those wins gave us a huge confidence boost and is really helping us now in the tournament.”
Coach Eddie Willis (Sam’s father) attributes the Braves’ success to a primary strength: pitching.
They have an overflow of talented arms — with a combined ERA of 1.03.
“Pitching. Pitching’s where it starts for us, and batting behind that,” Eddie Willis said. “But we’re definitely pitching first.”
At 5-0, junior Eric Braughton has the best record. He also has the lowest ERA at 0.24. But he is one of seven pitchers who have thrown varsity innings, and is far from the only thrower the Braves rely on.
For example, freshman Trevor Ankney is 4-1 with a 0.38 ERA. Junior Max Walls is 2-0 with a 1.24 ERA, and sophomore Jared DeHart is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
Sophomore Dylan Sprong and Sam Willis Read also have 1-0 records.
“It’s been really tough finding innings for all for all of them,” Eddie Willis said. “We’re very, very deep.”
Although pitching is the Braves’ chief strength, it’s not their only strength.
At the plate, they hit .347 as a team, with seven players above .300. Dawson leads the way at .439, followed by Walls at .393 and senior Tyler Parks at .377.
Defensively, the Braves have a .940 fielding percentage and seldom hurt themselves with errors.
But another factor behind Indian Creek’s success, which doesn’t show up in the scorebook, is chemistry.
Devoid of egos, the Braves quietly and selflessly go about the business of winning.
“That’s the real key. The kids all get along,” Eddie Willis said. “There’s no bickering.
“Of course, winning cures that, but these just aren’t the kids who pick at each other.”
They don’t have time to. They’re too busy winning games — and pursuing championships.
Having picked up their first sectional title in 43 years, the Braves turns their attention to winning what would be their first-ever regional crown.
Indian Creek plays Frankfort (13-13) in a 2 p.m. semifinal Saturday. The winner plays in the 8 p.m. championship against the winner of the Brebeuf (25-7) vs. Northview (19-6) semifinal.
“We don’t really look at anybody’s records. We just try to do our best,” Read said. “On our team, we’ve got each other’s backs.
“We just try to raise each other’s confidence and bring each other up.”
IF YOU GO
Class 4A Evansville Reitz Regional
Where: Bosse Field
New Albany vs. Evansville Harrison, 11 a.m.
Bloomington South vs. Center Grove, 1 p.m.
Winners play, 8 p.m.
Class 3A Crawfordsville Regional
Where: Crawfordsville High School
Brebeuf vs. Northview, 11 a.m.
Indian Creek vs. Frankfort, 1 p.m.
Winners play, 8 p.m.
Class A Morristown Regional
Where: Morristown High School
Jac-Cen-Del vs. Greenwood Christian Academy, 11 a.m.
Clay City vs. Lutheran, 1 p.m.
Winners play, 8 p.m.