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Four fun years and counting for sports editor

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

This past Saturday marked my fourth anniversary (i.e. fourth year) as sports editor of The Courier-Times, and I continue to enjoy the job as much as when I first started it on May 11, 2015.

Usually, I have a column every May 11 marking my anniversaries at the C-T, but we have (at least right now) no Saturday edition of the paper and our Sunday paper was chock-full of local sports and photos, so I’m having the column this year three days later.

It’s been another interesting 365 days since May 11, 2018, starting with New Castle’s Tristan Barr making it to the state finals in girls pole vault as a freshman, the Tri softball team making its fourth straight appearance in the Class A northern semi-state, and the Trojans’ Brady Wheeler making his second straight appearance in the boys golf state finals.

Summer brought us the New Castle Babe Ruth Baseball 15s winning the Ohio Valley Regional and appearing in the Babe Ruth Baseball World Series in Longview, Washington.

In the fall, three local high school volleyball teams (New Castle, Hagerstown, and Blue River Valley) won sectional championships, and the Trojans repeated as Class 3A state champions.

New Castle’s Annie Gillock advanced to the girls golf state finals.

In girls high school basketball over the winter, New Castle and Blue River Valley won sectional titles and the Trojans’ Cameron Tabor set a new school record for career points for a Trojan girls basketball player and was named an Indiana All-Star.

In boys high school basketball, Shenandoah was the only local team to win a sectional, and the Raiders advanced all the way to the Class 2A southern semi-state in Seymour before losing to Linton-Stockton.

New Castle senior Luke Bumbalough finished second in career scoring for a Trojan player (behind only Steve Alford), made the Indiana All-Star Team, and was a finalist for Indiana Mr. Basketball, finishing fourth in the voting.

Shenandoah junior wrestler Silas Allred finished undefeated, capping the season off with a state championship in the 195-pound weight class.

New Castle sophomore Samantha Ward advanced to the gymnastics state finals for the second straight year.

This spring, the Hagerstown High School baseball team is No. 1 in Class 2A at this time, and the New Castle boys golf team is undefeated in dual and three-way meets.

Spring sports sectionals start today with the girls track & field sectionals. Who will shine in them that I can crow about in my column next May 11?

Oh yes, I plan to be here in this position next May 11 and every other May 11 after that for as long as I can. “No desire to retire” is my mantra that I will carry until I croak, and I’ll continue to rave and rant as conditions warrant.

My major rant today is about the upcoming softball and baseball sectionals, which begin next week.

Why does the IHSAA allow the softball and baseball sectionals to overlap? It ended the overlapping of the girls and boys state basketball tournaments, which was good, so why doesn’t it do this for the softball and baseball tournaments?

Right now, the IHSAA allows softball sectionals to be played May 20-25, the baseball sectionals can hold games May 22-27, and the IHSAA has mandated all baseball sectional championship games be played Monday, May 27 which happens to be Memorial Day.

In looking at the schedules for our six local high schools who play these two sports, there’s a lot of overlap starting on May 22 when four local baseball teams play their sectional openers on the same day as two local softball sectionals decide their champions.

The next day, May 23, three local baseball sectionals play their semifinals while two more local softball sectionals determine their champions.

If you are New Castle fans of the diamond sports, I have good news for you because Trojan softball and baseball won’t play on the same days. NC softball plays May 23 and (if it wins) May 25 for the championship. NC baseball plays on May 22, and, if it continues to win, May 24 and May 27.

There’s a simple solution to this overlap. Schedule all softball sectionals for May 20-22 and all baseball sectionals from May 23-24 (if teams don’t want to play Saturday, May 25) and the sectional title games still would be held on Memorial Day, May 27.

The only possible overlap would be in seven-team sectionals of which there are relatively few. They could play on Saturday, May 25.

As it stands now, and to be perfectly blunt, the C-T doesn’t have the staff and resources to cover all of these games and most newspapers our size don’t, either.

I got a phone call from a reader recently asking why we don’t cover the Little League Baseball games during the regular season. She stated that’s the reason she subscribes to the paper. She didn’t leave a return photo number to contact her, so I’ll answer her question now.

Our forte and top priority here at the C-T is coverage of local high school sports. This spring, we have six local high schools who field teams in baseball, softball, girls tennis, boys golf, and track & field. That is 30 teams to cover (and 36 if one separates girls track & field and boys track & field). And this doesn’t even include junior varsity or junior high/middle school teams.

We don’t have the staff or resources to even cover our local high school teams in person to the degree I would like. That’s why we count on submissions from the local high schools and their coaches to get more content in the paper.

We do cover Little League Baseball and Babe Ruth League Baseball, but most of that coverage is after most of the high school spring sports season is over.

We may do a few Little League or Babe Ruth regular season games in late May or early June, but most of our coverage in those two leagues is covering the city tournaments and some of the all-star games.

We could publish the scores of the Little League games in the paper like we do in winter for the Youth Basketball League if someone submits them to me at the paper.

In the past, we have had individuals write a weekly column summarizing the previous week’s game in the Little League and Babe Ruth League, but since I’ve been sports editor, no one has stepped up to the plate to do that.

Compare our coverage of local sports to papers in Muncie, Anderson, and Richmond, and you’ll see we stack up pretty well against those newspapers in this area.

How many of them publish several times a season the statistics for high school volleyball, football, boys and girls basketball, softball, and baseball to the degree we do? Answer: None of them.

One thing that’s happened since I took the job of sports editor is I’ve learned to become more tolerant of others’ mistakes. Through the sheer volume of material I generate for this newspaper, I’ve made mistakes and kick myself when I do. I’m still striving for that perfect sports section that has no errors.

One thing I won’t quit doing is ranting about things I think are wrong or need to be changed or raving about some really good things I’ve witnessed or heard about.

At least I try to stand for something. In my opinion, if you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing.

David Risley is sports editor of The Courier-Times and has no plans to quit or retire any time soon.