As I type this RR&R column, it is Good Friday morning and Easter is two days away.
Easter always is the first Sunday after the first full moon (March 28 this year) of the vernal equinox, which is why Easter is early this year. So Easter is based on the lunar calendar.
I’ve often wondered why we call the day Jesus Christ was crucified “Good Friday,” because it certainly isn’t a great thing for a man to have spikes put through his wrists and feet and “nailed” to a piece of wood. “Passion Friday” would be a better name for it.
Perhaps it’s called “Good Friday” because it had a happy ending on “the first day of the week.”
High schools almost always seem to have their spring breaks during or close to “Holy Week,” that period of time between Palm Sunday and Easter. Sometimes, high school spring sports take a vacation and don’t resume until after spring break, leaving a void for coverage in our sports section.
However, this year we’ve been somewhat fortunate because some local high schools played some games during spring break that I was there to witness and bring to you in our sports pages.
In these past two weeks, not counting Friday’s Rushville at Shenandoah softball game, I have covered four softball games and two baseball games.
All four softball games have ended after five innings because of the 10-run rule with scores of 15-0, 17-0, 20-0, and 23-0.
But both baseball games were rather close, as the two losing teams (both local) had the tying or winning runs at the plate before falling. The scores of those contests were 6-3 and 9-7 in a game called after six innings because of darkness.
Here are some takeaways from those six games. Class 2A softball teams Eastern Hancock and Union County are really good, and it would be a great game to see if both of those teams met each other sometime this season.
The Royals lost by only one run to Class 4A and two-time defending 3A state champion New Palestine, and the Dragons have another powerhouse squad this season even after moving up to 4A under the IHSAA’s tournament success factor.
Union County is good and New Castle is young in softball, but I doubt the Patriots would have defeated the Trojans 23-0 if the game had been played on Wednesday, as originally scheduled, instead of Tuesday when the wind was gusting out toward left and center fields.
Union County hit seven home runs Tuesday with the wind blowing out. I can almost guarantee that the Patriots would not have done the same thing Wednesday with the wind blowing in or across Baker Park Field.
But it is what it is, that was only one game in a (hopefully) long season, and New Castle should get better as the season wears on.
By the way, that was a nice running catch Trojan sophomore left fielder Ava Stearns made in that game. I think I got a good photo of that it that was in the paper in black & white. It looks even better as a color photo.
Hagerstown is a relatively young baseball team and New Castle’s baseball team is loaded with juniors who missed their sophomore season.
Apparently the Trojans have two of the best juniors in the state on their team in Corbin Malott and Aydan Decker-Petty. Malott has made a verbal commitment to play for Purdue and Decker-Petty a similar commitment to play for IU. Both can pitch, but did not do so in the game I covered Wednesday against Pendleton Heights.
In looking up and down the Trojan roster, I see names of players I saw and covered at the Little League and Babe Ruth League Baseball levels, and it’s nice seeing them out on the diamond playing in high school.
But to be honest, I was somewhat surprised at some of the names I did not see on this season’s New Castle roster.
I’m not being critical, and each player has the right to make his own decision on whether to play or not, but it seems some players decided not to play their junior and senior seasons for New Castle.
When I graduated from New Castle High School (then Walter P. Chrysler High School) in 1971, there were four senior boys on the state finalist 1971 Trojan basketball team. Three of them competed in three different sports for the Trojans as seniors.
Jerry Lamberson (the Trester Award winner) and Mike Lee played tennis in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. Joe Fuller played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and golf in the spring.
Only Brent Popplewell played just basketball, and I think he made that decision for his sophomore and junior seasons as well even though he was a really good athlete in other sports.
Of course, back then AAU sports (as I recall) weren’t even an option, and there are a lot of other distractions today. Perhaps it’s just another sign of the times.
As a final comment, I counted it up and found out I covered 84 high school basketball games this past season from Nov. 10, 2020 through March 13, 2021. That’s a lot, even if I say so.
Among the eight teams vying for IHSAA state championships today at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, I covered four of them in person this season, and I covered another one, Silver Creek, last season in the Raymond James Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle Fieldhouse.
It’s interesting how much fun this job can be.
David Risley is sports editor of The Courier-Times.