2009 PREP BASEBALL PREVIEW: It could be a familiar story this season (03/22)

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Central, E'town are the region favorites, according to coaches

By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES cjones@thenewsenterprise.com When the 5th Region Baseball Tournament concluded last May, it was the Central Hardin Bruins celebrating the program’s first-ever region championship after a 1-0 victory over Elizabethtown. Just the year before, Elizabethtown claimed the title after rolling through the region tournament with three consecutive mercy-rule victories, including an 11-1 rout of Central Hardin in the final. Although time has marched on and players have changed, not much has changed according to area baseball coaches, who said Central Hardin and Elizabethtown are still the top two teams in the region. “It’s the same as it has been,” LaRue County coach Chris Price said. “It’s still E’town and Central. They have a lot of good kids coming back and they have a lot of talent all the way down.” But before Central Hardin and Elizabethtown can worry about the region tournament, both must try to make it out of a very difficult 17th District. “E’town’s going to be solid, course,” Central Hardin coach Todd Thompson said. “You can never count out North out as long as (North Hardin coach) Greg Gumm’s there. John Hardin is going to be solid. This is just a tough district. Anyone is capable of beating anyone.” That’s certainly what North Hardin and John Hardin is hoping for after the last two years with Elizabethtown and Central Hardin dominating the rest of the district. “Year in and year out this is one of the strongest districts (in the state) and I don’t see it changing,” Gumm said. John Hardin is still searching for its first trip to the region tournament, and Coach Adam Lindsey thinks this could be the year. “I see us being at the top of the district and going to the region (tournament),” Lindsey said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t be at the top of the district. If we stay healthy and focused, we can play with anyone in our district.” Pitching, especially in the postseason, will be the key to making a strong run at the district and region championship. Central Hardin boasts two of the best in seniors Cody Alvey and Anthony Thorn. Elizabethtown has a deep staff led by senior Zach Riney; North Hardin has seniors Levi Duncan and Tyler Perkins; and John Hardin has senior Tyler Burnett, junior Seth Dunn and sophomore Cody Creamer. “Pitching is the name of the game,” Elizabethtown coach Don Pitts said. “I don’t think there’s any denying that. Generally, games are lower scoring in the postseason, so you have to have good pitching. I think Central has the advantage going into the season with the pitchers they have. “But I don’t think there is one or two teams above anyone else,” he added. “I think the region is pretty balanced. The two 17th District teams will be factors in the region tournament as well as LaRue County, which is favored in the 18th District. Coaches also mentioned Taylor County, Campbellsville, Bethlehem, Marion County and Nelson County. “You always have to look at LaRue,” Gumm said. “Marion and Taylor have had some good teams. Nelson has and so has Campbellsville. But you always have to start with the 17th (District).” Which could lead to Central Hardin and Elizabethtown in the region final for a third consecutive year. Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759