IndyStar is recognizing the Indiana high school athletes of the week presented by Defenders. Top Hoosier athletes are nominated by their athletic directors and coaches. For more information about our Indiana Sports Awards, contact Matthew VanTryon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Matthew Glenesk at email@example.com. These athletes were chosen for the week ending March 25:
A group of girls grew up playing softball in Richmond. They knew they’d eventually go to Seton Catholic High School. So inevitably, the question came up.
“Coach, are we going to have a high school team?”
Chuck Haager looked at the coaches around him. They chuckled nervously. The answer, truthfully, was that no one knew. There wasn’t one then. It’d be six or seven years by the time these players got to high school. Was that enough time to get a program off the ground?
One of those players who asked that question was Taylor Haager, Chuck’s daughter. Now, she is one of the most essential pieces on a Seton Catholic softball team that is still in its infancy — it’s just two years old — but one that has its goals set sky high.
That question those girls asked years ago led to action.
“It spurred some thought and conversation to see what that vision looked liked,” Chuck Haager said. “It was a matter of someone stepping up and taking the bull by the horns.”
Haager took the lead. A lot of the early work was done in the trenches — formulating budgets, finding a place to play and figuring out how many players might come out for the team.
“With a school our size, it’s always about numbers,” he said. “Who’s going to be there at the high school level when it’s time to turn the switch on?”
Haager contemplated playing a junior varsity schedule for the first few years, but decided to play a varsity schedule instead. Thirteen girls came out to play.
They lost their first game 27-1. Then 10-0. Then 20-2. They won their home opener against Attucks 12-4, then proceeded to lose the next four games by a combined 50 runs.
Growing pains? For sure. But there was a bright side.
“We felt like we’re going to take some lumps, but we’ll be better for it in the long run,” Haager said.
Another bright spot was Taylor’s play. She batted .408, had a .463 on-base percentage and led the team in hits (20) and runs (17). On the mound, it was more of a struggle. She had a 6.29 ERA, allowing 65 earned runs in 72⅓ innings. But she gained valuable perspective during the rough outings.
“Playing the 2A schools, it’s hard to get hit off of at that rate, but after the game I would realize that’s probably one of the best games I’ll play,” she said. “Now I know what I need to work on.”
Though the season is young, Seton Catholic’s coach is starting to see his team reap the rewards of a rocky first season.
“At practices this year compared to last year, the knowledge is there, the game is coming to us quicker,” Haager said. “We’re continuing to build. We feel like we’re just one step further ahead than we were last year.”
The team has won two of its first three games. In a season-opening doubleheader against Blue River Valley, the Cardinals won 20-1 and 16-1. Taylor Haager was 4-for-6 with five RBIs, six runs, and five stolen bases. On the mound, she struck out 12 and allowed just one run in five innings pitched.
“It made us so confident knowing we can play with these teams and win these games,” she said. “Getting in the car with my dad we just smiled at each other and said, ‘Wow, that was a great weekend.’”
Boys track and field
Isaac Guerendo, Avon
At the Hoosier State Relays, Guerendo helped Avon to the team title by winning the long jump (22 feet, 5 inches) and placing second in the 60-meter (6.86 seconds, a school record). He led off the winning 4×200-meter relay that ran 1:28.69, a school record and the sixth fastest time in the country.
Girls track and field
Mikeisha Covington, Warren Central
Covington finished second in the 60-meter dash at the Hoosier State Relays, setting a personal record (7.58 seconds). She also was part of the winning 4×400-meter relay team and the 4×200-meter relay team that finished second. Warren Central claimed the team title.
Jordan Siddons, Elkhart Memorial
Siddons was 7-for-12 with four doubles through the team’s first three games of the season. He has driven in four runs and scored four times. Elkhart is 3-0-1 on the season.
INDIANA SPORTS AWARDS
Love high school sports? Then celebrate the athletes! The Indiana Sports Awards on April 27 at Clowes Memorial hall will honor top athletes throughout the state and feature a performance by Pat McAfee. Among the presenters will be 1954 IndyStar Mr. Basketball Bobby Plump and 1969 IndyStar Mr. Basketball George McGinnis. Find more information about the event and get your tickets now at sportsawards.indystar.com.