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Hornets looking into a mirror in semistate matchup

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PLAYING SHORTSTOP: Rossville shortstop Dawson Jacoby goes through the gauntlet of his teammates after being introduced before Saturday’s regional game with Riverton Parke.
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COACH PARTICIPATION: Rossville coaches take part in high-fives with Evan Price during player introductions before Saturday’s regional game with Riverton Parke.
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REGIONAL CHAMPS: Rossville players and coaches pose for a championship photo after winning last Saturday’s Carroll Class 1A baseball regional. The Class 1A No. 2-ranked Hornets face No. 4 Washington Township in the Plymouth semistate at 1 p.m. Saturday.
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FIRING UP: Rossville starting pitcher Evan Price (25) points to outfielder Payton Dennison after an infield mound visit during Saturday’s 4-3 regional win over Riverton Parke.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville may face their toughest test yet in the Class 1A state baseball tournament at Saturday’s Plymouth semistate based on rankings as the Hornets, ranked No. 2 in the last Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association poll for 1A, face No. 4 Washington Township for a chance to move on to the state finals.

“I don’t know much about them with them obviously being out of Valparaiso and we don’t have any common opponents,” Rossville head coach Brad Scott said. “It looks like the Roberts kid (William) is their absolute stud and can really throw it.

“They’ve got several guys that can hit. On paper, they look a lot like us. Sometimes it’s better to just go out and play baseball and let the best team win.”

The Hornets (25-7) and Senators (22-6) are the highest ranked IHSBCA teams still remaining in the Class 1A tournament as it has whittled down to four squads left. No. 9-ranked Tecumseh (Lynnville) (21-7) faces University (Carmel) (20-10-1) at Jasper on Saturday in the south-region semistate. No. 1 Hauser was beaten 3-2 by Oldenburg Academy in a semifinal game of the Jac-Cen-Del sectional.

Along with similar stats on paper, Rossville and Washington Township have also traveled similar paths to the semistate. Both teams have won most of their tournament games by comfortable margins with one exception.

The Senators topped Marquette Catholic, 3-0, to open their own sectional, beating Hammond Academy of Science and Technology, 11-0, and Kouts to win the sectional in a tight 2-1 game. They beat North Miami, 8-1, and South Central, 6-2, to win last weekend’s South Bend Washington regional.

The Hornets ran through the Sheridan sectional and had their toughest test in a 4-3 win over Riverton Parke in the first game of Saturday’s regional before beating Daleville, 15-3, to capture the championship.

As Scott suggested, the offensive numbers for the two schools are similar with Rossville batting .351 with an on-base percentage of .455 and Washington Township batting .342 with a .458 OBP. Playing four more games, the Hornets have scored 260 runs this season and given up 92 (with a 2.28 ERA) compared to the Senators’ 237 and 87 (2.22 ERA).

Washington Township will likely start senior William Roberts with only one game to play at the semistate. Roberts (61 1/3) and Steven Hernandez (42 2/3) have carried the bulk of the Senators’ 180 innings on the mound this season.

Roberts comes into Saturday’s game with an 8-2 record and 1.94 ERA, with 76 strikeouts and 21 walks. Hernandez carries a 3.28 ERA and 3-1 record with 45 strikeouts and 18 walks. Other Washington pitchers with more than 10 innings include James Hernandez (28 2/3 innings, 5-1 record, 2.69 ERA with 51 Ks), Logan Curran (18 1/3 innings, 2-0, .76 with 22Ks) and Bryce Malamatos (13 2/3 innings, 1-1, 1.54 with 24 Ks).

Sophomore Evan Price started both games of last Saturday’s regional for Rossville, pitching two innings of scoreless ball in the win against Riverton Parke and following that up with five innings without allowing a run in the championship against Daleville.

Price has pitched 49 innings for the Hornets this season, carrying a 7-1 record and 1.14 ERA with 42 Ks against six walks. Rossville has spread out their innings more than the Senators, with seniors Kelton Saylor (35 2/3), Payton Dennison (34 1/3), Nathan Price (23) and Kirby Meeks (22 2/3) all seeing significant time on the hill.

Saylor has a 4-2 record with a 1.18 ERA and 49 Ks, with Dennison going 3-2 (3.67 ERA and 37 Ks), Price (3-0, 2.13 and 21) and Meeks (4-1, 2.47 and 22).

At the plate, Washington Township has seven players with 50 or more at bats hitting over .300 with Rossville having eight. Rossville has hit 15 homers as a team this season compared to the Senators’ five.

Roberts leads Washington Township in average at .390 (with 10 doubles, 19 RBIs and 20 runs), but Chaz Brown (.389, eight doubles, 14 RBIs and 20 runs) and Jared Armstrong (.384, 16 RBIs and 35 runs) aren’t far behind.

Steven Hernandez (.371, 29 RBIs, 29 runs and a homer), James Hernandez (.355, 19 RBIs, 19 runs and a homer), Michael Funk (.330, 20 RBIs and nine doubles) and Matt Rogers (.318, two homers, 21 RBIs and 19 runs) have also been potent offensively for the Senators.

Several Hornets upped their averages after Rossville’s onslaught at the plate against Daleville, with Dennison’s team-leading average jumping from .458 to .472 after the regional. He leads the team with 35 RBIs and 14 doubles, scoring 31 runs with four homers. Corbin Beard follows in average at .423 with 32 RBIs, 23 runs, nine doubles and three homers.

Hornets hitting over .300 include Mark Soiseth (.396, 23 RBIs, 18 runs, three doubles and a homer), Dawson Jacoby (.392 and team-high 36 runs), Evan Price (.365, 24 RBIs, team-high 36 runs and seven doubles), Adam Terrell (.325, 24 RBIs, six doubles and five homers), Kelton Saylor (.309, 22 runs and 26 RBIs) and Reid Douglas (.351, 22 runs and 12 RBIs).

Washington Township has stolen 82 bases this season, with Armstrong (17), Steven Hernandez (12), Ben Fifield (11) and Myles Debold (10) all in double figures. Rossville has swiped 75, with Jacoby leading the squad at 14 and Dennison (13) and Douglas (11) also over 10.