Indians baseball, softball, boys tennis return from the road

Baseball stays undefeated, shuts-out Smyrna, 12-0

Except for a late close call last Thursday against St. Mark’s, Indian River’s baseball team is standing out with a seemingly flawless, undefeated record as they head into their third week of the season. The classic face-off between the Indians and St. Mark’s turned to a nail-biter when a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning was snuffed by five unexpected runs from hosting St. Mark’s. IR kept their cool, however, and pulled out the victory.

Tuesday afternoon’s game at Smyrna was plagued with small-craft-advisory wind conditions, though the steady pitching arms on IR’s hurlers proved to be no match.

“The first two innings,” said head coach Howard Smack, “We were hitting hard, but we were hitting it right to people, and in that wind, we weren’t going to get it to the fences. The guys started laying back and getting more relaxed with the pitches, and we started laying them in.”

Senior Luke Wingate and Bo Wilkerson held strong for the Indians, proving that there’s no longer the weakness at the bottom of the lineup that some opponents had grown accustomed to in years past.

“It used to be,” said Smack, “that the further down you’d go, the quicker it’d die off, but now these guys came to show them that you can’t pitch around them. We’re strong all the way through. We have some good hitters making good contact with pitches.”

Luis Barrientos started atop the mound in Tuesday’s game for the Indians and pitched a no-hitter until the fifth.

Cory Showalter stepped in at the top of the sixth, only allowing two hits the rest of the game. “Luis has really stepped up in the pitcher position,” said Smack.

“The thing I was most impressed with,” he added, “was our guys laying back and hitting the curveball, rather than waiting and jumping on the fastball.”

The past wins, following the consuming 22-8 opener against Nandua last Tuesday, now put the Indians at a comfortable 3-0 record thus far, although they can’t get too content.

“We have a tough schedule ahead of us,” said Smack. “I told the guys a slump could be coming. You have to be ready for anything.”

The Indians squared off against Cape Henlopen on Thursday, April 3, after Coastal Point press deadline. They’ll host Caesar Rodney on Tuesday, April 8, at 4:15 p.m. and play at Delmar the Following Thursday.

Softball levels out

A solid start for the Indians’ softball season hasn’t held too strong as the team leveled out to 2-2 following back-to-back losses to Red Lion Christian Academy on Saturday and Smyrna on Tuesday, April 1.

“The sad truth is,” said coach Mark Browne, “You’re not going to win too many ballgames when your team strikes out 13 times.”

That was the case when the Indians fell, 0-2, at Smyrna last week.

“They had a good pitcher who knew how to throw the ball. She moved the ball around, doesn’t give into a hitter. She did a nice job.”

The Indians let up only one error, he noted. “It was still a good ballgame.”

Katelyn Null opened the game for the Indians. Then, senior Brittany Steele took her place on the mound before Null closed it up.

Jamie Esham was able to turn a double play from right field on a tag-up to home, but for naught, as the Smyrna Eagles did their part to prevent any runs.

The main focus for Browne and the team leading into this Thursday’s game hosting Cape Henlopen was to get away from the homerun swing.

“Cape has a good veteran, left-handed pitcher, said Browne. “It’ll be a test.”

Three shots left the park for four combined runs in IR’s opening win against Nandua, and that just may have been a little too much of a pat on the back for the Lady Indians, according to Browne.

“We want to get back to good, fundamental softball,” he said. “We have to buy into this idea of putting the ball into play with two strikes. We’re getting caught looking too many times. We’re swinging way too hard and big. I think a homerun comes with good hitters, but you can’t rely on it. It’s not what you want to look for first.”

The Lady Indians will take on Caesar Rodney on April 8 at 4:15 p.m. at home, then travel on Thursday to Delmar.

Boys’ tennis serves an ace in season-opener

Boys’ tennis started out strong in the first game of the season on April 1, traveling to Lake Forest and pounding out an authoritative 5-0 win. The Indians were able to hold the Spartans to no sets and only a few games.

“Lake Forest is a young team this year,” said IR head coach Pat Cicala. “We were able to learn a couple of things. Our fellows could concentrate on the things that needed a little work.”

Transferring star Brendan Young was unable to unveil his skill for IR as the first-singles’ player suffered a broken finger.

The day was, in all, a great way for the IR guys to concentrate on their play in preparation to Thursday’s match hosting Seaford.

“Seaford’s one of the top schools in the conference,” said Cicala. “They usually have a lot of guys, and therefore have some depth to them, but tomorrow’s match should pretty much indicate where are in the conference. If we can play well and play smart, we have a good shot at taking it this year.”

Boys’ tennis will play next week, hosting Milford on Monday, traveling to Cape Henlopen Wednesday, then heading to Smyrna on Friday. All games will be at 4 p.m.