Login NowClose 
Sign In to perutribune.com           
Forgot Password
Close

Spring sports cram in thrills during two months of play

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

After two months of nearly non-stop action, when Mother Nature allowed for it, the spring sports season came to a close last week for Miami County athletics and for most of the state as well, with only the boys’ golf finals and baseball state finals left to conclude the 2016-17 sports calendrer.

With a chance to finally take a clear look at the final two-plus months of athletic competition for the local schools, the Peru Tribune takes a look back at the spring season that was.

Baseball

Peru (13-9, 8-1 TRC) managed to do what it did not last season and win the conference outright, claiming half of their TRC victories by two runs or less, including a 10-inning grinder against Whitko.

The Tigers, who started the season 1-3 after losses to then-No. 1 Providence, state finalists Rossville and Northwestern, won their next four games and only a surprise loss to Wabash kept the team from going unbeaten in TRC play, with five of the nine losses on the schedule coming against teams who at least made their sectional final.

Peru also made the Miami County Classic final, where they lost in a late-night slugfest to Oak Hill while the sectional game against Benton Central went down a strange path before seeing the season end.

North Miami (7-14, 3-6 TRC) continued its year-long renaissance with a seven-win season under first year head coach Troy Hudson.

As had been the case in football and basketball, the baseball team, featuring many of the same players as the other two sports, used their experience to start off the season by playing competitively in two opening defeats before winning three in-a-row.

With conference play came a swoon in results before the team settled into a pattern of trading off wins and losses, with a final TRC win over Whitko taking the Warriors off the foot of the conference table, though they were unable to beat Northfield in the sectional opener.

Maconaquah (3-19-1, 2-7 TRC) felt the effect of having a senior-laden squad graduate last year with a slow start to the season, winning only one game in April and only picked up one home win on the season in its conference game against North Miami.

The Braves did play solid games down the stretch, including wins over Northfield, a draw against Madison-Grant and a narrow loss to Northwestern in the sectional opener.

Softball

North Miami (10-11, 6-3 TRC) had several questions to answer early on as the spine of the team from the past four seasons was no longer in place and it was not until the calendar turned that answers finally came.

Having started the season 3-9, the Warriors battered Wabash 18-0, sparking a 6-1 run to the end of the season, including wins over Rochester, Winamac and Whitko, with a sectional win over Northfield to follow.

The run finally fizzled out against sectional hosts Oak Hill, leaving North Miami without tournament hardware for the first time in four years.

Peru (8-14, 5-4 TRC) also had questions coming into 2017 and with only 14 girls on the varsity roster, including six freshmen, the answers would have to come quickly.

Despite the concerns, the Tigers played exceedingly well against all opposition with most of the games being decided by three runs or less.

Peru added two more TRC wins to the list over the previous year and pushed Western hard in their sectional-opening loss.

Maconaquah (2-19, 1-8 TRC), much like the baseball team, struggled to get a first win on the board despite playing some very solid softball early on.

A 15-1 mauling of Wabash and a 12-1 defeat of Eastern, sandwiched around three close conference losses, seemed to indicate the team was on the right track but a third win wouldn’t follow despite several more close games with the season ending against Northwestern in sectional play.

Track and Field

Behind some strong induvial performers, the county track and field landscape shifted around as the teams hit the big meets of the season.

Peru, led by All-State performer Jonah Lester, finished second in the boys’ TRC meet behind champions Whitko while managing a strong third-place finish at the Kokomo boys’ sectional and a ninth-place finish at the Kokomo regional.

The Tiger girls struggled from a team perspective with few bodies to call on, finishing eighth at the TRC and 11th at the Western girls’ sectional with Jaelin Richardson advancing to the South Bend Saint Joseph regional.

North Miami had two All-State athletes in Carlee Lefebvre and Faith White, who helped the Warriors finish second at the TRC meet behind Manchester, a fourth-place finish at the Rochester girls’ sectional and an impressive sixth-place showing at the South Bend Saint Joseph Regional.

Similar to the Peru girls, the North Miami boys’ track team was constricted by its small squad, finishing 10th at the TRC and 11th at the Bremen boys’ sectional.

Maconaquah was third in the girls’ TRC meet behind the Warriors while finishing tied for second at the Western girls’ sectional to Pioneer for a second-straight season. The boys’ team secured a fifth-place finish at the TRC meet and seventh-place finish at the Kokomo sectional.

Boys’ Golf

The most recent to conclude, the boys’ golf season saw all three county schools represented at the Warsaw regional this year.

Peru (10-3) used a freshman pair at the top of the lineup to guide their way to second-place finishes at both the TRC and the Peru sectional while routinely turning in top-half finishes at almost every tournament they played in throughout the spring, including multiple top-five efforts.

Maconaquah was one of the three teams to get the better of the Tigers at a point in the season and played well in nine-hole matches but did not fare as well in the big tournaments, finishing fifth at the TRC and the sectional with Jakob Taylor advancing to the regional as an individual.

North Miami saw most of its success come in matches with teams of similar size, finishing 10th at the TRC and 12th at the Peru sectional but did have a bright spot in junior David Beck, who advanced to the Warsaw regional as an individual and earned medalist honors several times throughout the year.

Girls’ Tennis

Maconaquah (10-7, 3-5 TRC) had a highly-experienced lineup return for 2017 and finished over .500 for the year with good performances against teams outside of the TRC.

Despite strong showings , however, getting wins inside the conference was much tougher and a draw to face Manchester in the sectional semifinal would be where the season ended for the Braves.

Peru (4-4 TRC) bounced back after a 2016 in which wins were at a premium, particularly in the TRC.

The Tigers advanced to the Peru sectional final after defeating Southwood but fell to champions Manchester in the final.