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Familiar foes to meet in Class A headliner at Jasper

There appear to be three high school baseball teams capable of winning the Class A state championship, and two of them are scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Saturday at Jasper’s Alvin C. Ruxer Field.

Two of the co-favorites are Lafayette Central Catholic, the defending state champion, and Barr-Reeve, last year’s state runner-up.

The third, of course (as always?), is Shakamak.

Coach Dylan Collins’ Lakers were at the Class A Jasper Semistate a year ago, and lost 4-2 to Barr-Reeve in the championship game. On Saturday they get the Vikings right off the bat, perhaps with a full complement of pitches and innings available for Jax Cox (who pitched most of both games last year) or whichever other Laker might be chosen to pitch.

The two teams are certainly familiar with each other. Shakamak won 4-3 in eight innings at Barr-Reeve recently, not to mention the fact that there were hardly any seniors on either team in last year’s semistate championship game.

“[The Vikings] didn’t lose anybody [from the 2023 team],” Collins said this week, and the Lakers return Cox, his younger brother Owen and other key players like Riley Huckaby, Linden Jenkins and Jaden Johnson.

Familiarity is important in playing Barr-Reeve, because the Vikings approach the game offensively a little differently than most teams. Almost like a fastpitch softball team, the Vikings will bunt if they have men on base or they will bunt to get on base, and they will bunt with any of the nine players in the batting order.

It can be annoying and, if it is, it can also be effective.

It was a year ago when the Lakers gave up four unearned runs.

Despite that generosity, the Lakers were one or two timely hits away from winning a year ago, and they are headed to Jasper on a roll.

“We’re just clicking on all cylinders right now,” said Collins, whose team has won 11 games in a row.

And the keys to the game remain the same as they were.

“We’ve got to be able to field the bunt,” Collins said, “and we’ve got to hit the baseball.”

Class A semistates

At LaPorte

Morgan Township (13-13) vs. Fremont (13-13), 11:30 a.m., followed by Lafayette Central Catholic (25-6) vs. Union City (16-6); championship 8 p.m.

At Jasper

South Central (14-8) vs. Indianapolis Lutheran (17-15), 11 a.m., followed by Barr-Reeve (25-6) vs. Shakamak (21-7)/ championship 8 p.m.