Prep Baseball Report

Sectional Pairings : Reactions and More

Cooper Trinkle
Lead Scout

We are past the halfway mark on the 2024 IHSAA spring season and nearing tournament time. Sectional pairings were released early last week, and as always, we see some of the top teams in the state paired against one another in the early stages of the sectional. 

In usual fashion, some of the top ranked teams will face off early in this single-elimination tournament. For instance, look to Sectional 17 - our current 3A #1 and #2 will square off in round one, with Andrean (18-3) versus Hanover Central (18-2). This is a matchup built for Victory Field, but unfortunately only one of these clubs will live on past the first round of the tournament. Another big-time, region-area matchup will take place in round one, with 4A #10 Crown Point set to square off against 4A #6 Valparaiso, setting the stage for a matchup of highly-ranked junior arms, Caden Crowell (Notre Dame : Valparaiso) vs. Logan Cotton (Indiana : Crown Point). This is another regional-esque matchup that will take place on opening night of the tournament. 

Moving over the Sectional 8, we see clear evidence for a needed adjustment in the way that the IHSAA tournament plays out. This 4A sectional includes : #2 Noblesville, #7 Fishers, #11 Zionsville, #20 Carmel, Westfield (who has been in Top 10 consideration at points throughout the spring), and Hamilton Southeastern, the defending Sectional 8 Champions. The draw has played out to pit Carmel vs. Noblesville in round one, two of the most talented teams (on paper) within the state. Fishers and HSE will square off in round one, as well, setting the stage for a pitching matchup between Jack Brown (Louisvlle : Fishers) and Ethan Lund (Oklahoma State : HSE), both of which have had numerous MLB scouts at each start they have made this spring. To put it in perspective, there are 73 seniors within the state signed to play Division I baseball next spring, 15 (21%) of them hail from Sectional 8. From the six rosters combined, there at 37 total players committed or signed to play college baseball. 

Sectional 13 will be a fun one to watch play out. #1 Center Grove drew the bye, and will play Bloomington South, with the winner headed to the final round. #3 Mooresville drew Greenwood in round one, likely a matchup versus Indiana recuit, RHP Micah Vessely. Mooresville will have a tougher road to the sectional finals, but if we end up getting a #1 Center Grove versus #3 Mooresville matchup in the finals, expect fireworks.

Sectional 16 will be an interesting one to follow down in Evansville. #13 Evansville North (17-4) is the top-ranked team in this field, however they have fell to both Castle and Evansville Harrison this spring. Castle has arguably the best arm in the sectional in JR LHP Will Coleman (Missouri) and he will likely toe the rubber versus North in the opening round game. Harrison has beaten both Castle and North this spring, and they will square off against a tough Evansville Central team in the opening round. 

Cathedral is the defending Sectional 10 Champions, however they enter the tournament this season as the underdog, already losing to #12 Lawrence North once this spring. That will be an interesting one to see play out, and North Central enters the tournament as the darkhorse with a pair of arms that have the ability to take them to a sectional championship, as well. 

Sectional 19 should set up for a #7 Mishawaka Marian versus #5 South Bend Saint Joseph rematch, as the crosstown rivals split the in-season series. With that being said, St. Joe drew Jimtown in the opening round, a team that beat them during the regular season.

Another stacked 3A sectional is Sectional 27 - where #3 Guerin Catholic sits on one side of the bracket, and Brebeuf and Chatard sit on the other side, two teams that have been in-and-out of the 3A Top-10 all season long. 

There are a pair of 2A sectionals that I will keep close tabs on, Sectional 42 and Sectional 48. In S42, Park Tudor will need to get past Scecina and Heritage Christian, while Triton Central will look to best Irvington Prep in the bye game. If the favorites prevail, we will likely get a matchup of two Top-10 ranked teams in #5 Park Tudor and #9 Triton Central in the final.

S48 includes : #2 Forest Park, #3 North Posey, and #4 Evansville Mater Dei - 3 of the top 4 ranked teams in 2A all meeting in the first round of the playoffs... a sectional that will look closer to a semi-state tournament than the opening round of the playoffs. 

In 1A we have a handful of sectionals that will include multiple teams that have been ranked inside the 1A Top-10 throughout the spring, including Sectional 49, 55, 56, 60, 61, 63, and 64. 

The way the current format sets up creates an exciting tournament between schools that are in close proximity of one another. Sectional 8 always offers the most electric atmosphere of any high school baseball games that I watch throughout the season. However, it is unfortunate that so many talented baseball teams are sent home after the opening round due to the current format. What is the answer? Seeding the tournament based off of regular season records seems to be a popular answer within the Indiana High School baseball community. This would at least put some kind of meaning into the regular season, outside of conference tournaments, compared to the format today. With that being said, the current format creates excitement from pitch number one of tournament play and the 'win or go home' nature of the tournament allows for an action-packed finish to the spring season. 

Stay on the lookout in the coming weeks, as our staff will release our 'sure-to-bust' sectional predictions days before tournament play kicks off.