FORT WAYNE – Turns out there are more pitchers out there than Will Coursen-Carr, the former South Side standout who elected to attend Indiana University this season.
The area is loaded with quality arms. And Norwell has two of them.
The Knights, whose last product was Jarrod Parker, now of the Oakland A’s, have two of the area’s top pitchers in Josh VanMeter and Jonah Patten, both of whom are targets for professional scouts.
Northrop also has a Big Ten-quality pitcher in 6-foot-8 Tyler Huth, who is headed for Purdue. Huth had a 6-1 record with a 1.74 ERA last season, with 53 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings pitched.
Top hitters returning are Leo’s Jackson Boyce, Carroll’s Drue Tranquill and Northrop’s Charlie Sipe.
Jackson Boyce, Leo: The IPFW recruit will be looking for his third All-ACAC honor. Last season he hit .437, with 23 RBI and 19 stolen bases.
Drue Tranquill, Carroll: Tranquill, a center fielder, returns for the Chargers. The junior hit .374, with four home runs, 25 RBI and 14 stolen bases.
Tyler Huth, Northrop: The 6-foot-8 senior pitcher is headed to Purdue next season. Last year for the Bruins, he posted a 6-1 record with a 1.74 ERA.
Josh VanMeter, Norwell: Like Boyce, this is the second preseason 5 To Watch mention for the senior pitcher. VanMeter has signed to attend Illinois State.
Jonah Patten, Norwell: With VanMeter and Patten, Norwell has the chance to return to the state finals. Both pitchers have been clocked at over 90 mph, with Patten in the mid-90s. He has committed to play baseball at Arkansas.
Snider: Picked to finish second in the SAC behind Northrop. All-SAC first-team first baseman Sam Cook (.370) leads 10 returning players from last year’s team.
Northrop: Between Huth and Sipe, Northrop baseball has returned in full force. Huth is headed for Purdue, and Sipe hit .411 last season. He and Cory Ferguson (.375) were All-SAC first-team players last year.
Carroll: Tranquill leads a solid nucleus returning. Blake Converset returns at pitcher. He had a 6-3 record with a 2.85 ERA. Also back on the mound are Mason Neuman, who was 4-1 with a 3.10, and Taylor Goshen, 5-2 with a 2.49. Senior Ross Koble hit .391.
Norwell: Out of the IHSAA tournament picture for the past few years, it’s time to welcome back the Knights, who are bolstered by pitchers Josh VanMeter and Jonah Patten.
Leo: The Lions, 25-4 last season, could contend if they can find pitching to replace Taylor Horn and Joey Heath. Boyce returns, as does three-year letterman Trey Phillips.
Remembering Stav: The Northrop baseball family lost its founding father in former coach Chris Stavreti, who died from Lou Gehrig’s disease. On the back of Northrop’s hats this season is the number 27, which Stavreti wore.
Getting back to state: After winning back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011, Carroll fell short last season when it lost at the regional level. Four players from those state championship teams are gone, including three-year starting catcher Elliott Ford.
Braves are back: Blackhawk Christian had a run through the Class A sectional and regional before falling in the semistate. Returning for the Braves, 23-7-1 last season, include pitcher Austin Osborne, who was 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA.
DeKalb has pitching: With seniors Dylan Cagle and Will Vadney, the Barons have a pair of pitchers to cause problems. Cagle was 7-2 with a 2.38 ERA, and Vadney was 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA. Hitting will be the issue this season.
Watching Heritage: The Patriots’ solid core of athletes this year have focused on baseball, and they’ll be led by Wil Knapke, who hit .356 last season, and Cole Gerardot, who hit .341. Consider Heritage a sleeper in the ACAC.