BNL’s core group faces
final chance to fulfill
promise of past success
By Justin Sokeland
Note: This week, with the start of official practices for fall sports looming, we’ll look at five different sports and examine the key issues heading into the 2016-17 calendar season.
1. Will the Stars fulfill their potential?
Ever since Bedford North Lawrence’s senior class advanced to the Junior League World Series in 2013, much has been expected. During the last three varsity seasons, the Stars have gone 14-15 (with some of those youngsters contributing as freshmen), 20-9-1 and 17-11.
Youth success on the way up to the varsity level does not guarantee anything. Many times, proven often, athletes will mature and peak early, then struggle to maintain their dominating position when the later bloomers arrive. Seniors can often be distracted (graduation, the future, social lives) during a busy spring. This group has a chance to be special, if everything falls in place.
2. Who will emerge as the ace of the pitching staff?
That answer seems obvious with Austin Long, who has verbally committed to Indiana University, on the mound. Long was 3-3 with a 3.50 ERA last season. In fact, the Stars have several quality hurlers in Tanner McBride (3-3, 2.44) and Cole Mathews (3-1, 2.86), and Drew Hensley was cast in the role of closer late last year.
The great teams have the dominator, the virtually unhittable, the feared flame thrower in the No.1 spot. BNL might not possess that, but it has enough good arms to win on a consistent basis. In the sectional, and beyond, the aces are the trump card.
3. Will BNL ever win the Hoosier Hills Conference?
That has to be one of the inexplicable stats in the history of the league. BNL has advanced to the state finals three times, has won 13 sectionals (although none since 1994), and has never claimed the league championship.
Ever is a long time. One of these years, even as tough as the HHC has become in baseball with outstanding programs and Division I prospects at nearly every school, that skid will end. This team might represent the best chance to achieve that. But winning the league title is a difficult, three-game task against the best competition in the state.