By Brady Extin | The Times-Post
MADISON COUNTY — Although the weather outside doesn’t exactly scream playoff baseball, both Lapel and Pendleton Heights now know their path to a sectional championship.
On Sunday, the Indiana High School Athletic Association conducted its annual drawing of first-round sectional matchups.
In Class 4A Sectional 9 at Mt. Vernon High School, Pendleton Heights will open up its tournament with Richmond.
With a win, they would face the winner of the New Palestine and Muncie Central game.
On the top half of the bracket, host Mt. Vernon squares off against Greenfield-Central, with the winner to take on defending champion Anderson in the semifinals.
There will be two returning sectional champions in the tournament. New Palestine won last year’s Class 4A Roncalli Sectional (11) and reached the regional final. The IHSAA realigned tournaments for the 2022-23 school year.
At the time of writing, Mt. Vernon held the top record of all teams in the tournament at 13-2 and sat at No. 4 in the Class 4A rankings.
The Arabians post a record of 8-6 on the season and currently hold a 1-2 record against sectional opponents. They defeated Anderson 5-0 in the Madison County Tournament, and lost to Mt. Vernon 9-1 and 11-5.
They played Greenfield-Central on Tuesday and Wednesday after press time, face New Palestine May 9-10, and will get their first look at their Round 1 opponent, Richmond, on May 15.
Richmond sits at 9-6 on the season. New Palestine is 11-5, and Greenfield-
Central rounds out the teams with records above .500 at 9-5-1. Anderson (7-10) and Muncie Central (5-7) hold records below .500.
In Class 2A Sectional 40, Lapel gets the benefit of playing at home, but not the benefit of a first-round bye.
Frankton and Winchester Community drew the first-round bye and will face each other in one of the two semifinal games.
The other semifinal game will see the winner of Lapel and Monroe Central against the winner of Wapahani and Muncie Burris.
The Bulldogs hold the top record in the sectional at 12-2 and sit at No. 4 in the Class 2A rankings. They defeated Frankton 11-1, and played first-round opponent Monroe-Central on Wednesday after press time.
Three teams sit with a record below .500: Monroe-Central (4-12), Muncie Burris (3-6) and Frankton (5-8). Winchester is 7-7, and Wapahani is the only team along with Lapel above .500 at 8-7-1.
The tournament is scheduled to begin May 24 and run through May 29, with times to be announced at a later date.
This year’s state tournament has a different format than in previous years, as the regional round and semistate round have essentially switched.
The regional is now a single game (June 3) with two championship games being played back-to-back in a doubleheader format at the same site. The semistate becomes a two-round affair, with the winner advancing to the state championship game.
The four state championship games will be played June 16-17 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.