GREENFIELD – The vibe around the baseball diamond has just been different this season. Josh Mundell and Drey Jameson can feel it from the mound. It has taken over the dugout. They can see it on their teammates’ faces. Greenfield-Central simply believes it can win – and has.
After finishing 10-18 last season, including a 10-4 loss to Pendleton Heights in sectional play, the Cougars bolted out to a hot 9-1 start this year. The energy has been positive. Rather than a team full of kids playing for themselves, individually, according to Mundell, Greenfield-Central has a team full of athletes who are playing for one another.
The results have been telling.
With a 13-1 win over Triton Central on Monday, the Cougars ended their regular season 16-10 overall and increased their win total in a competitive Hoosier Heritage Conference, going from 3-11 last year to 8-7 this season.
“The difference between this year and last is we have a closer knit group,” Mundell added.
Greenfield-Central opened its season with back-to-back wins over Lawrence North and later improved to 3-0 with a 7-5 win over then No. 5 Roncalli. For context, the Rebels handled the Cougars 11-0 last season. But not this year. Anything can happen, Greenfield-Central has come to learn, if one just believes.
The Cougars then proceeded to top New Castle (19-8) before falling to the Trojans in the second game of their conference double header. It was the first loss for Greenfield-Central, which went on to win four consecutive games before a 6-2 loss to Perry Meridian on April.
In addition, the Cougars used victories over New Palestine (19-6) and Pendleton Heights (19-5), which are both ranked inside the top 10 in the state, regardless of class, according to MaxPreps, to further improve their confidence.
Despite that success, Mundell and the Cougars will not overlook their opening-round oppenent on Saturday – Anderson (11-15-1). Greenfield-Central beat the Indians 10-0 on May 15 but knows one bad inning is all it takes to quickly fall behind, especially in the postseason.
“I don’t think Anderson showed us much (that game),” Mundell said. “They have some scrappy guys that we aren’t going to underestimate.
“This sectional is tough, because it has a bunch of teams that are generally solid.”
The last sectional championship for the Cougars came in 2013. Last season, Pendleton Heights beat Richmond 7-5 for the Sectional 9 title.
The Jameson Effect
Greenfield-Central has been blessed with pitching depth this season, featuring eight players who have recorded at least one win. However, none have been more impressive than Jameson, who is committed to play at Ball State.
Racking up numerous HHC Pitcher of the Week honors this season, Jameson finished 5-1 with a 0.69 ERA. He tossed five compete games, had four shutouts and finished with one no-hitter, which he fired in the first game of the season.
HHC pitcher of the week: Drey Jameson, @GCCougars. Complete-game 10K no-hitter vs. Lawrence North
— Hoosier Heritage (@HHCConference) April 4, 2017
Jameson finished the season with 86 strikeouts (191 batters faced) and walked just 17 batters. He gave up five earned runs all year and did not allow a single home run. His strikeout total led the conference and was seventh in the entire state, according to MaxPreps.
“I have a lot of help behind me when I pitch,” a humble Jameson said. “I have been a lot more efficient when I’ve pitched this year, and I know I have a team behind me. I can pitch (for) contact and then let my team do the work.”
The senior has also been productive at the plate. His .400 average, 16 RBIs and six home runs lead the team. He has also tallied seven doubles, two triples and scored 25 runs.
And like Mundell, Jameson is feeding off the squad’s energy in his final high school baseball season.
“The team as a whole is just a totally different team than were last year,” Jameson said. “We have a lot of people who have bought in to what we want to accomplish.”
The last sectional title for Greenfield-Central came in 2013.
The turnaround for the Cougars this season has been nothing short of a complete team effort. Jameson gives Greenfield-Central an added confidence when on the mound or at the plate, but it has been anything but a one-man show.
Senior Tyler Farrell has been dialed in all season and is second on the team in batting average (.354). He has also knocked a team-high eight doubles and has sent four balls over the outfield fence. Farrell currently has 15 RBIs.
Senior Spencer Hert, sophomore Nick Atwood, junior Braxton Turner and freshman Adam Hutchison each have 16 or more hits this season, as well, in major roles in the offensive lineup. Hert also has three doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs.
In addition to Mundell and Jameson on the mound, Greenfield-Central has used a healthy numbers of hurlers this season. Mundell is 2-1 with a 1.68 ERA, while sophomore Bradley McDowell is 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA.
Hutchison is 2-2 with a 4.36 ERA and Hert is 1-3 but has a solid ERA (2.94) after starting a team-high eight times this season with Jameson. Sophomore Blake Wilson, senior Landen Davis and junior Kyle Kirkpatrick also have wins, giving the Cougars options if a starter does indeed get in trouble early.
Greenfield-Central will keep an eye on the game between Pendleton Heights and New Castle tonight before its contest with Anderson on Saturday. Muncie Central (9-14) and Richmond (14-13) play in the first game tonight, with the winner scheduled to face the Arabians or the Trojans in the first game at 11 a.m. Saturday. A full bracket is post below.
Sectional 9 at Pendleton Heights
- Wednesday – Muncie Central vs. Richmond, 5:30 p.m.
- Wednesday – New Castle vs. Pendleton Heights, 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday – Winner G1 vs. Winner G2, 11 a.m.
- Saturday – Greenfield-Central vs. Anderson, 1 p.m.
- Monday – Championship, 5 p.m.
Kris Mills is a sports writer at Eastside Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KrisMills37.