Cougars aim for first regional baseball crown


Sixteen teams currently remain in the hunt for the Class A state baseball title, but the field will get cut to four Saturday night.

Trinity Lutheran has won three of the last four sectional titles but hasn’t ever made it past the regional round in six total tries.

On Saturday in Loogootee, the Cougars plan on changing that.

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The Cougars (12-11) will play Barr-Reeve (17-5) at 1 p.m. in the Loogootee Regional semifinals. Should Trinity advance, it will play the winner of South Central (21-6) and Tecumseh (19-7) in the championship.

In the Sectional 61 draw, the Cougars beat West Washington 14-3 before topping Orleans 7-3 in the finals.

Cougars coach Ben Kleber said he’s preparing his team for a different environment.

“Everything is just amplified. The pressure they will feel and the quality of the teams will be a lot more,” he said. “You’re down to the final 16 teams in the state. There aren’t going to be any gimmes left. We need to be prepared to make plays and swing the bat.”

Barr-Reeve defeated Vincennes Rivet 11-4 in the Sectional 63 semifinals before topping county rival North Daviess 10-0 in the championship game.

“They’ve been a top-five team all year in the state,” Kleber said of the Vikings. “We know they’re going to put the ball in play, throw strikes and make the plays they need to. They’re going to be a good team. There aren’t really any common opponents. They beat Orleans 7-0 earlier this year, but it was the second game of the season, so we don’t know what we can take from that.”

Tecumseh is the reigning regional champ. Last year, the Braves beat Barr-Reeve 7-0 in the regional before falling to University 7-4 in the semistate. Daleville won the Class A state title over University 4-2.

“Tecumseh beat Barr-Reeve earlier this year, and we know they’re a good squad,” Kleber said. “South Central has a young coach and is having some success. They have a similar dynamic to us. If we get out of that first game, whoever we see, it will be a quality team.”

Jack Marksberry leads Trinity with 31 hits and 17 RBI with a .484 batting average, Tyler Goecker has 25 hits and Lawson Woods is next with 21.

“The top and the bottom of the lineup has been producing,” Marksberry said. “The chemistry is there. We just need to perform at this point.”

Goecker said the team is ready to go for the regional.

“We’re feeling pretty confident going into Saturday,” he said. “Our arms are healthy, and everything is going good. We’re treating it like another game.”

Pitching-wise, Woods has gotten the bulk of work, starting 10 games and pitching 55 innings. He has an ERA of 3.95 while giving up 56 hits, 31 earned runs and 46 walks and striking out 60. Marksberry also has seen a lot of time on the mound, pitching 40 innings while recording 36 hits, 19 earned runs, 23 walks and 57 strikeouts.

Goecker (25 innings) and Noah Voelker (21 innings) also have seen time on the mound.

“Jack, Lawson and Tyler have all thrown the ball pretty well this year, and we can also go to Noah,” Kleber said. “ I have confidence in all four of those guys. Jack and Lawson, it will probably be between those two with who will start. We will see how their arms feel and go from there.”

Marksberry got the win over West Washington and Woods beat Orleans in the sectional.

Trinity has just one player on its roster that has played in a regional game: Senior Trent Shoemaker. Shoemaker was a sophomore in 2017 when the team last made it.

Kleber said his team is ready to compete.

“All year, we’ve talked about controlling our attitude, effort and approach. If we can do those three things, everything else will take care of itself,” he said.

“You can tell they are ready to go. There is a little different demeanor today (Wednesday). They are looking forward to the regional. I like the way they’ve been talking. We’re not going to be happy just to be there. We’re going to give it our all.”

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Class A Loogootee Baseball Regional

Team: Trinity Lutheran High School

When: Saturday

Times: Semifinals 1 p.m., championship 7:30 p.m.

Admission: $7 per session or $10 for both


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