Five Questions: NWI Prep Baseball Roundup

vhs-baseball-fieldA few weeks into the high school baseball season in Northwest Indiana, some teams are off to favorable starts while others will attempt to dig themselves out of an early-season hole. However, there are many questions that remained unanswered with the bulk of the schedule left to be played.

Here are a few key story lines to watch for the remainder of the high school baseball season in Northwest Indiana.

Will Hobart’s Brandon Murray be selected in the Major League Baseball Draft?
If the row of scouts that lines the bleachers for each of Murray’s starts is any indication, the answer to this question seems to be the affirmative. However, Murray’s performance the remainder of the season will undoubtedly impact his draft stock. The hard-throwing right hander, who touches the mid-90s on radar guns, may have a decision to make come June. Murray has signed to play his college ball at the University of South Carolina, but an offer from a big league organization could cause a change of plans.

Will Lake Central reload?
Lake Central was hurt by graduation losses and is off to a slow start, but the Indians have a history of making regular regional appearances. Lake Central, which won the state title in 2012, concluded its 2013 season in the regional final with a 4-2 loss to Elkhart Central. The Indians have dropped five of their first seven including a 9-2 loss to conference foe Chesterton. However, head coach Jeff Sandor has shown a knack for having his team ready to go come sectional time.

Can Portage repeat its sectional title?
Portage-Baseball-Sectional-Championship-2013-1Portage has developed a baseball program that wins over 20 games season after season. The Indians had reached the sectional championship three straight years entering last season, but were finally able to get over the hump and win their first sectional title in nearly two decades. The difference was ace Kevin Jones, who defeated Valparaiso in the sectional opener and Crown Point in the title game. Jones, a Northern Illinois signee, transferred from Chesterton before last season. Like Lake Central, Portage is another program that seems to reload rather than rebuild. Portage’s offense, which is scoring runs in bunches in the early part of the season, should not be overlooked.

How will the conference change impact Hanover Central?
Hanover Central is off to a good start in its first season in the Greater South Shore Conference. Hanover stands at 3-0 overall and swept a two-game conference set with River Forest. The Wildcats have a talented pitching staff, which throws to junior catcher Jesse Wilkening, who hit .510 a year ago. Hanover Central left the Porter County Conference for the GSSC prior to this season.

Can La Porte get back on track?
LPHS-Baseball-Collage-1La Porte went through a rare down year in 2013, but the Slicers seem to be on the road to recovery thus far this season. La Porte has won six of its first seven games and is already closing in on last season’s win total. The Slicers will have a chance to gauge their progress as they get further into the yearly gauntlet that is the Duneland Athletic Conference.

Other Teams to Watch
No Northwest Indiana baseball (or football, or basketball) story is complete without a mention of Andrean. The 59ers have jumped out to a 5-0 record on the strength of brilliant pitching. The bulk of the 2013 team is back, including multi-sport stars Matt DeSomer and Nick Podkul. Munster could join Hobart and Andrean in the mix for the Northwest Crossroads Conference crown. Griffith, always a sound program under the direction of head coach Brian Jennings, could also make noise in the NCC. Bishop Noll, led by Indiana commit Larry Crisler, has an experienced roster after reaching the regional last year.