FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The South Side baseball team’s run to regionals has truly become a second season for the Archers.
The Archers’ season reads a tale of two different ones. After only winning just 3 games in the regular season, South Side found its stride in the postseason, winning a second-straight 4A sectional title. South Side knocked off Huntington North, 6-4, in the semi-final; then avenged a regular season loss to sectional host Homestead, 4-0, in the championship game.
“We kind of saw this 2 and a half weeks ago. They were getting really competitive,” first-year head coach Ryan Dellinger tells ParkviewSportsMedicine.com. “When we took the bus ride down for the championship game, they didn’t talk. So, I knew they were really focused.”
Dellinger cites small ball as key for his Archers’ improvement, and ultimately the results on the field. His strategy of get him on, get him over and get him in has paid dividends. Their 14 combined hits at sectionals yielded 10 runs. Marvelous pitching from Xavier Croxton and Elias Perez held Huntington North to 4 runs on 3 hits and a 4-hit shutout (Perez complete game) against Homestead.
“It let us know that it wasn’t impossible,” Croxton says. “We can beat teams that are notorious for sitting us down early. We can beat them first. And then we can go play those regional games they’re focusing on."
Experience helps South Side, too. Seniors likes Croxton, Perez, Cole Hapner and Jacob Sanchez set the tone entering the playoffs, Dellinger adds. Familiar opponents, past postseason success and an all-business approach have fostered fortune.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in these last 2 years as a baseball program,” Hapner, who plays shortstop, says. “To be able to change the atmosphere with the baseball program all-around, we’ve been so successful.”
The Archers now turn their focus to the 4A Lafayette Jefferson Regional and semi-final foe Hamilton Southeastern. The Royals are coached by former South Side coach Jeremy Sassanella, who is also Dellinger’s best friend. First pitch is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Saturday. The winner of that game will face the winner of the other semi-final between Carroll and Logansport. The regional championship game is slated for 8:00 Saturday night.
South Side is one of 26 high schools that partners with Parkview Sports Medicine for athletic training, sports performance, nutrition, athletic rehabilitation and orthopedic services for student-athletes. Learn more at ParkviewSportsMedicine.com.