Wapahani softball coach Jacci Glancy seemed to describe her team’s outlook with two slightly at-odds philosophies.
On one side, stood the mantra of taking each game at a time, not looking ahead but only focused on the next opponent. On the other, stood a checklist of goals with marks beside the words “county champions” and “conference champions” and a blank box next to “sectional champions,” a goal that takes a bit of looking ahead.
Well, with the Raiders set to open play Tuesday at the Blackford Sectional, not too far ahead.
“We would like to get another check off our list, but it’s just another game,” Glancy said.
Class 2A No. 7 Wapahani will face the winner of Shenandoah-Lapel at the Frankton Sectional as it aims for a second consecutive sectional title. New Castle and Shenandoah open sectional play today in separate games, with the rest of the area’s teams joining the fray Tuesday or Wednesday.
Wapahani (21-7) enters the postseason on an 11-3 run, which includes clinching Delaware County and Mid-Eastern Conference titles. The team played six games in the final week of the season, including a pair of pickup games Saturday after Glancy wasn’t happy with a performance against Cambridge City.
Pitcher Hanna Rose has been a steady presence through the run, and she threw the final 20 innings of last year’s postseason. Around her, the Raiders have a balanced lineup, which includes power-hitting freshman Kaija Aikman (10 doubles, four triples, three home runs).
Wapahani went 3-1 against the other teams in the sectional during the regular season with a loss to Frankton, but Glancy said the familiarity is an important asset as her team looks to check off another goal.
“I feel like the team is jelling very well together, so we can’t be more ready than we are right now,” Glancy said.
On the Class A level, one local game will feature a good deal of familiarity. Daleville and Cowan face off Tuesday in the Liberty Christian Sectional, three days after the Broncos swept an MEC doubleheader to take the season series and second place in the conference.
But the Class A No. 3 Blackhawks (18-9) didn’t throw ace Shelby Wilcoxon in either game so as not to give the Daleville lineup a fresh look at her.
While Glancy said she expected the experience of last year’s postseason to provide some lessons for her team going into sectionals, Yorktown coach Chrissie Saunders took a decidedly different view.
Despite returning every notable player from the 2012 team that reached semistate, a group that includes pitcher Grace Lumpkin (1071⁄3 innings, 102 strikeouts, 1.57 ERA) and formidable bats such as Kendra Saunders (seven home runs, 1.298 OPS) and Morgan Masters (five home runs, five doubles, 31 hits), she wanted to focus purely on the one-game-at-a-time attitude.
Her Hoosier Heritage Conference champion Tigers (20-4) have faced three of the five other sectional teams, topping Delta, Central and Blackford by a combined 31-6 margin. She lamented missing the chance to play Hamilton Heights after a rainout, but said having the bye before facing Central on Wednesday provided an extra chance to ready her team.
“We’re trying to be prepared for each and every opponent and trying not to underestimate people or look at past performance and kind of expect that’s what’s going to happen again,” said Chrissie Saunders, whose team has won nine consecutive games. “I don’t want to necessarily think that way. They have to think in the present because last year doesn’t mean a whole lot really.”