As he took to the mound for his team’s Class 3A sectional baseball final against Beech Grove last month, Indian Creek senior pitcher Eric Braughton had a pretty straightforward game plan.

“I figured out that they are not a strong hitting team,” he said, “and they have a lot of swings and misses, so I just exposed their weaknesses.”

Braughton exposed the Hornets’ weaknesses in the form of 14 strikeouts as he hurled a two-hit shutout to give the Braves a 1-0 victory and their second consecutive sectional championship.

His dominance on the mound, coupled with a solid campaign at the plate, helped Braughton earn the nod as the Daily Journal’s 2017 Player of the Year in baseball.

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Braughton, who spent his first two years of high school at Franklin before his family moved to the southwest side of the county, was among Indian Creek’s top hitters this season with a .320 average and a team-high 17 runs batted in.

It was his arm, however, that provided the most headaches for opponents.

Using a fastball that tops out at 93 miles per hour, Braughton struck out 60 batters in 33 innings of work, finishing with the season with a 2.55 earned-run average.

“I like to overpower, but I can also pick my spots when I want.”

Between Braughton and hard-throwing sophomore Trevor Ankney, Indian Creek possessed one of the more imposing pitching tandems in Class 3A. In addition to their return trip to the regional, the Braves also claimed a division title in their first season as a member of the Western Indiana Conference.

Once he wraps up his summer season with the Indiana Braves, Braughton will head off to play for Indiana Wesleyan, an NAIA Division I program based in Marion.

Originally slated to serve strictly as a pitcher there, Braughton hit well enough this spring that he may have convinced Wildcats coach Rich Benjamin to give him a few at-bats here and there.

Braughton plans to earn a degree in marketing, but he’s not ruling out a future on the diamond, either. There does, after all, tend to be a demand for live arms that can create a lot of swings and misses.

“I’ll take it as far as it’ll let me go,” he said.

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Eric Braughton has done a good job of overpowering opposing hitters during his two seasons at Indian Creek:

Season;Innings;Strikeouts

2016;33 1/3;64

2017;33;60

All-County team

The 2017 All-Johnson County Team for baseball:

Trevor Ankney, Indian Creek sophomore: Flamethrowing hurler struck out 65 batters in 40 innings and finished with a 2.45 ERA. … Fanned 12 without a walk in 1-0 victory in sectional semifinal.

Eric Braughton, Indian Creek senior: Batted .320 with 17 runs batted in while also providing an overpowering presence on the mound, posting a 2.55 ERA and striking out 60 batters in 33 innings of work.

Nick Coy, Center Grove senior: Anchored the Trojans defensively with an error-free season behind the plate while also batting .298 with a team-high 25 walks and a .461 on-base percentage.

Colton Crick, Greenwood Christian sophomore: Led the Cougars with a .492 batting average, stole 16 bases, drove in 15 runs out of the leadoff spot and posted an on-base plus slugging of 1.166.

Luke Helton, Whiteland sophomore: Did the job for the county champion Warriors both on the mound, where he was 6-3 with a 0.90 ERA, and at the plate, where he batted .325 and drove in 19 runs.

Jacob Leistner, Whiteland senior: Anchored a balanced lineup, leading the Warriors in batting average (.398) and runs batted in (25). … Finished with an on-base plus slugging of 1.021.

Alec MacLennan, Franklin junior: Provided a powerful bat in the middle of the Grizzly Cubs’ lineup, hitting .324 with four home runs, 14 RBIs and an on-base plus slugging of 1.019.

Damon Maynard, Greenwood senior: All-District and all-conference catcher paced the Woodmen with a .362 batting average and 21 RBIs while putting forth a dominating defensive season.

Luke Miles, Franklin sophomore: Shortstop batted .329 with 20 runs scored and was also a top pitcher for the Grizzly Cubs, finishing with an earned-run average of 2.56.

Zach Murphy, Edinburgh junior: Led the Class A sectional champs with a .409 batting average while driving in 19 runs and collecting 14 doubles. … Had a 2.30 ERA and was winning pitcher in sectional final.

Ryan Sauter, Center Grove junior: Paced the Trojans with a .380 batting average and .510 on-base percentage while hitting three homers, driving in 22 runs and scoring 19. … An all-MIC selection.

Mike Wyman, Center Grove junior: All-MIC performer drove in a team-high 26 runs and scored 19 more while batting .371 with nine doubles and three home runs.

Honorable mention

Kyle Armel, Edinburgh; T.J. Bass, Greenwood; Chase Bennett, Whiteland; Parker Bryant, Edinburgh; Nolan Check, GCA; Tavian Cosby, Edinburgh; Michael Couet, Franklin; Jared DeHart, Indian Creek; Bryce Eblin, Center Grove; Chris Foote, Center Grove; Brian Gaffney, Center Grove; Coltan Henderson, Edinburgh; Jacob Heuchan, Franklin; Griffin Huizinga, GCA; Jerris Lee, Franklin; Jordan Martin, Greenwood; Logan Mullinix, Whiteland; Dylan Rosado, Greenwood; Dustin Sprong, Indian Creek; Bailey Watson, Whiteland

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Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.