Three local programs will host softball sectionals

By the time the Class 4A softball sectional at Center Grove gets under way, secrets should be as common as comet sightings.

Four of the six programs are from Johnson County. Meanwhile, Martinsville and defending semistate qualifier Franklin Central play four and two of the local squads, respectively, over the course of the regular season.

Familiarity is a common theme with this year’s state tournament draw, which took place Friday night at the IHSAA offices in Indianapolis.

On May 22, third-ranked and six-time state champion Center Grove plays Franklin in the second game. By drawing byes, Greenwood and Whiteland are scheduled to square off in the second semifinal.

“The toughest thing about our sectional is the fact we have so many rivals,” Center Grove coach Russ Milligan said. “You hate having such important games placed on a rivalry where kids can get overhyped and upsets can happen pretty easily.”

Milligan, who has led the Trojans to a total of nine state championship games with five titles to show for it, knows all too well.

State champions in 2015, Center Grove was rolling along at 24-3 and riding a 16-game win streak last spring when it lost to the host Flashes, 8-0, in the final of the Franklin Central Sectional.

Two other county programs are serving as sectional hosts.

Indian Creek hopes to pick up its first sectional crown when the Braves welcome in five other programs in Class 3A.

Coach Gary Mitchell’s club advanced to the semifinals a year ago at its own place before Greencastle scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull out a 9-8 win.

Indian Creek will have its work cut out as it will play Danville in the first game. The winner takes on the Indianapolis Washington-Greencastle winner in the semifinals.

In Class A, Edinburgh with an 11-4 record, appears to be the favorite at its own sectional. The Lancers have won four sectional titles since 2010, including last year’s by outscoring its three opponents by a combined 38-4.

Edinburgh coach Steve Clark, whose team faces Southwestern (Shelby) in the first round, looks forward to the challenge.

“This team is equal, if not more seasoned, than last year,” Clark said. “I would say Southwestern is some of the toughest competition in our sectional. As long as we show up and don’t have a mental lapse, it should be a great game.”

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at mbeas@dailyjournal.net.