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By DYLAN MALONE
I've said it once and I'll say it again. Spring sports are like a good fireworks show. There's a lot of good variety to start off with and then it gets hectic and it picks up speed towards the end only to fizzle out quickly.
Not this year.
With Bellmont's tracksters headed to Bloomington along with AC's Troy Tonner, Bellmont hosting a regional match-up, and the Lady Jets winning their first regional softball game and heading to semi-state, the slate is still in a "grand finale" stage.
Not that I'm complaining. It's a good problem to have trying to figure out what to see, it's just too bad it all has to happen in one weekend! The girls track meet at Indiana University will be on Friday night with Tonner and his competition meeting up on Saturday afternoon. Then there's Bellmont baseball and AC softball playing at virtually the same time in their regional and semi-state respectively (1 p.m.).
Let's also not forget AC's sectional title in tennis, Bellmont's talented tennis squad, and also the Braves' golf team who continues to outshine most of the field.
Adams Central and South Adams both had very good baseball teams this year too and I fully believe that Bellmont softball could and should still be playing but the ball had eyes at Norwell and all the right bounces kept the Squaws from beating their cross-county foe and moving on.
This begs the question...what are they putting in the lunch meat?
Why the sudden success?
The Braves came out of nowhere winning their sectional and narrowly missing a regional championship as well.
It's been a good year to be a Jet as well with the football sectional title and coach McClure's second net-cutting with the boys basketball squad who ended Luers' and Bluffton's dominance for at least one year in a perennially tough 2A sectional.
Lest we forget South Adams with their best football season in over a decade with a baby-boom of seniors who led the Stars to a two-point conversion away from upending Sheridan, a team who trampled the Jets in the regional match-up.
So who's moving on?
Bellmont baseball faces a tall task hosting the 25-3 Leo Lions whose only blemishes include a 4-3 loss to South Side in a battle of the college-bound pitchers, a head-scratching 12-0 loss to 1A Blackhawk Christian, and a tight one against a Central Noble team heading to a regional match-up with Bishop Luers on Saturday.
Can the Braves find their offense against the solid pitching of the Lions? I think so. They seem to thrive off of pressure games and speedy pitchers. I think more important than the bats will be the gloves for Bellmont as Leo is incredibly talented at small-ball as they showed in a 5-1 win over Garrett in the sectional finals.
Adams Central has an equally as tasking game against Rochester (30-1) who ride on solid hitting and incredible pitching from the Zebras' Leighnee Smith who locates the ball well keeping it low with deceptive speed.
Lake Station (18-10) found out the hard way that committing errors against Rochester is not a good idea as six miscues led to a 10-0 exit from the post season for the Lady Eagles.
AC cannot afford the errors in the field to stand a chance and must find a way to hit Smith.
Alexis Harvey, Bailee and Holly Hankenson, and Allyson Norby have a good opportunity to get Bellmont's name in the fray with a slew of big schools who will be on hand for this year's track state. Without a class separation, the bigger schools of the state will likely take home the gold, but simply getting that many girls (and Tonner) there is a testament to the hard work put in by the county schools.
Good luck to all teams and players participating in state tournament action on Friday and Saturday.