Softball Team’s #1 Ranking Is First In South Dearborn HS History
By Mike Perleberg
The South Dearborn High School softball team players (front row left to right) Taylor Slayback, Chandler Hoskins, Delaney Murphy, Megan Meyer, and Hannah Lunsford. (Back row left to right ) Sam Bell, Tara Bailey, Jess Benton, Haley Higham, Hannah Rose, Ellen Barrett, Kooper Vertz, Morgan Wolfer, Ashleigh Largent, Heavenlee Wilson, Rachel Disbro, Danielle Bamberger, and Hannah Flege. Photo by Julie Murphy
(Aurora, Ind.) – When the 2013 season ended in the state semi-finals, South Dearborn High School varsity softball coach Tim Barrett decided the team would use the experience as motivation next season.
And that motivation has worked as well as possible. The Lady Knights are off to an 18-0 (11-0 EIAC) start to the 2014 season.
In the latest weekly poll from the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association – the preeminent poll for many girls high school sports in the state – South Dearborn was the top-ranked team in Class 3A. The team lept to the top spot from #3 the previous week.
The accomplishment marks the first time in South Dearborn High School history that a team has achieved a #1 ranking.
“There’s a lot of excitement about what we are doing,” says Barrett. “I try to keep it low key, but we’re all riding high. I hope we can complete our goal we set this year.”
The goal is to bring a state softball title to Aurora. Barrett felt his team should have accomplished the feat last year if not for a 6-4 loss in the state semi-finals to eventual state champion Tri-West Hendricks.
“We felt like we let one slip away. We felt like we were better. Through the summer, fall, and winter, it’s been our motivation,” Barrett says, adding that the loss is still fresh in the minds of seven returning seniors on this year’s Lady Knights squad.
“I thought that was the hardest working team I’ve been around from top to bottom, but this year’s team has worked harder.”
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Power and poise have been the recipe for success. The Knights have 99 RBI this season from their 3-4-5 hitters. The team-wide ability to put the ball in play and bunt well has helped. The team frequently takes advantage of other teams’ miscues, whether it be defensive errors or bad pitches.
Senior third baseman Ellen Barrett – third team all-state a year ago – has parked a lot of bad pitches beyond the home run fence. She recently set a school record in hitting her 13th home run of the season. She has also accumulated 42 RBI with a .582 batting average.
The coach says his daughter is heading to Indiana State University on a softball scholarship in the fall.
“She’s fun to be around from a coaching perspective because she works so hard,” he says.
Centerfielder Morgan Wolfer, another senior standout, is planning to play at Northern Kentucky University. This year she has a .438 batting average with four home runs and 32 RBI.
Kooper Vertz is the Lady Knights’ double whammy. At the plate, she has gone .492 with three homers and 29 RBI.
The Lakeland (Ill.) Junior College commit has been even better on the mound when starting 16 of the team’s 18 games. She is 16-0 with an impressive line including a 1.11 ERA, 112 strikeouts, and 95 innings pitched.
“She’s having a nice year on the mound for us. In softball if you have a pitcher that can strike hitter out it’s a good thing for us. We can go out there confident every night that the other person is going to have a tough time scoring runs,” Barrett said.
Barrett also mentioned right-fielder Ashleigh Largent as a major contributor. The senior plans to play next season at Lincoln Trail (Ill.) Junior College.
An Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference championship seems a likelihood this season. The 11-0 conference ledger has South Dearborn atop the standings with three conference games left to play, including Thursday night against Franklin County.
There have been close calls for SD’s unblemished record along the way. Barrett says the toughest game of season was a 10 inning victory over East Central, which he considers the toughest opponent they’ve played this season. They beat Lawrenceburg 2-1 on walk off, but didn’t come ready to play, according to the coach.
“We learned a lot on that day,” Barrett said.
An EIAC title would be nice, but the ultimate goal since before the season began, Barrett said, is a state championship. The IHSAA state tournament begins with the sectional first round games on Tuesday, May 27.
Assistant coaches on the Knights are Bill Rose and Wesley Edwards along with volunteers Joe Vertz, Steve Wolfer, Pat Murphy, and Jordan Marshall.