The Lions finished 2012 with a 24-7 record and the Blue Chip Conference championship, but Loogootee lost its first game of the regional to Northeast Dubois. The Lions will return four seniors, who are all four-year starters - SP/1B Conner Wittmer, second basemen Will Nonte, P/CF Jesse Horney and catcher Waylon Matthews. Junior starting pitcher Matt Mathies, who posted a 5-2 record and a 2.63 ERA is also back for the Lions.
With so many returning contributers from last years team, coach Roger Bailey said the expectations are as high as ever for the Lions.
"Our expectations are to do better than what we did last year," Balley said. "We have the pitching, and we have the hitting. In the south it looks like the runner-up was Shakamak last year and I know they have their best pitcher back." Bailey said the players are thinking about the possibility of playing at Victory Field in Indianapolis for the state championship, and thinking like that isn't out of the ordinary for Loogootee.
The Lions are seeking their third consecutive sectional championship.
"Every year we want to win our conference, we want to have a winning record and we want to make a run in the tournament," Bailey said. "Last year we won 24 ball games, the year before that we won 20. We want to try to win 20 games, that's kind of the standard we set for ourselves."
The Vikings finished 2012 with a 17-12 record, but lost the sectional championship game to arch rival Loogootee. Barr-Reeve will return four senior pitchers, who figure to help the Vikings improve on last seasons finish.
Myron Stoll, Keith Graber, Brandon Wagler and Stan Kemp are the seniors that coach Nathan Lester will expect to lean on this season as the Vikings make a run at their first sectional championship since 2010.
"We want to try to win as many games as possible," Lester said. "Our schedule is pretty rough, but we expect to be competitive every game with a chance to win a sectional championship, that's always our goal." Outside of staying healthy, Lester said the biggest challenge facing the Vikings is the schedule they will face and then the competitive Class A Sectional 63.
"It's a lot like basketball, sectional 63 in any sport is tough," Lester said.
With the roster that Lester will be working with this season, he knows that they will have to rely heavily on keeping their opponents off the base paths and off the scoreboard.
"Pitching and defense - that's what won us 17 games last year," Lester said. "That's ultimately what¹s going to allow us to win baseball games this year. Offensively we are average at best. It's going to come down to our pitching and our defense."