The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter - when it's not being blocked out by rain and snow - and the crack of the bat is back. It's baseball season in Southwestern Indiana.
Washington, Barr-Reeve, Loogootee and North Daviess are preparing themselves for another baseball season, while navigating through the always unpredictable March weather.
The Hatchets are coming off an 18-11 season, which saw them bow out in the first round of the Class 3A Sectional 31 at Jasper to Vincennes Lincoln.
Washington coach Steve Reed said after losing seven players from last season's squad, five to graduation, he's just not sure what to expect.
Washington will return two left handed pitchers in seniors Tyler Edmiston and Brayden Walls. Edmiston recently signed on to pitch at a junior college, Southeastern Illinois next season.
"I know I've got a couple of pretty good pitchers," Reed said. "There are a lot of question marks right now." A quick look at the 2013 Washington roster shows it will have seven seniors, but Reed said that number doesn¹t accurately reflect varsity experience on the field.
"We always want to try to go .500 and do well in conference," Reed said. "It's not like a season we have had in the past where we have five or six position players coming back. Last years senior class' pitching was deep. I think we've got some good pitching this year, but I don't know how deep we'll be, so that¹s obviously a concern. I don't really know what to expect, I don¹t think I've ever had a season like this."
2012 was a tough season in Elnora, and 2013 looks to be a bit brighter for the North Daviess baseball team. The Cougars lost 19 of 26 games, and lost to eventual sectional champions Loogootee in the Class A Sectional 63 at Loogootee.
Last seasons team graduated three seniors off a squad that was extremely young, and coach Zach Stoll is hopeful that the experience will help guide the Cougars to more victories this season. North Daviess' returning impact seniors will be catcher Dan Wagler, pitcher Alex Wittmer and outfielder Nathaniel Gingerich.
"We're going to be playing some young kids," Stoll said. "There's no doubt, we'll be having some freshman are going to get some varsity time. The guys that graduated last year were all guys that threw for us, so our pitching staff is inexperienced. I'm confident in what they're going to be able to accomplish even though they are young." The biggest obstacle Stoll sees for his team is the psychological aspect of having extremely young guys playing in high pressure games.
"We need to figure out how to mentally play in games at the varsity level," Stoll said. "That's a hurdle, and a lot of that is youth and inexperience. I wouldn't put a guy in there if I didn't think he had the ability to get the job done. It's more of a mental thing that we're talking about."