Cathedral eyes rare perfection in IHSAA baseball

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INDIANAPOLIS – The season has been a delicate balance of what is and what could be on the Northeast Side of Indianapolis.

For the past month Cathedral has continued to post win-after-win, starting in the regular season and continuing into the 2013 IHSAA baseball state tournament. That included a come-from-behind victory against Jeffersonville in Semi-State this past Saturday to earn the Irish a spot in the Class 4A state championship game.

That’s common for a program that has appeared in five title games-winning the state championship in 2001 and 2007. But what is unique is how complete their dominance has been on the diamond this spring.

“It would be crazy,” said senior outfield Luke Cureton if Cathedral would win their state championship game Saturday against Elkhart Central and it’s not just because they could win a championship.

After their Semi-State win over the Red Devils the Irish improved to 28-0 on the season, putting themselves on the verge of their first undefeated season in school history and just the fourth in IHSAA history.

“It’s exciting,” said sophomore pitcher Ashe Russell of the prospect of a perfect season. “Not many people get to do it, not many teams do it so we’re gonna try to pull through.”

If they do, Cathedral will join the 2007 Norwell, 2005 Brownsburg, and 1978 Evansville Memorial teams are the only ones in IHSAA history to run the table during a baseball season.

“Perfect seasons don’t come along often,” said senior catcher Austin Sparks. “I think we’re just happy. We haven’t really been thinking about it. We’re just trying to win every game, do our best. It’s worked out so far so just hoping we can continue.”

That attitude has certainly paid off for Cathedral at many points during this perfect ride to the state championships. The Irish opened the season by shutting out five of their first six opponents and eight of their first 15. The Irish dominated the sectional and regional rounds as well, and in the latter failed to allow a run in wins over Greenfield-Central and Brownsburg.

Jeffersonville presented a challenge as the Irish fell behind 2-0 but rallied back for three runs against the Red Devils in the fifth inning. Cathedral would hold on to win 4-3 to notch their second trip to the state championships in the last four years.

“I’ve said all along chemistry has been our strength,” said manager Rich Andriole of the undefeated Irish. “Pitching, defense and offense, that’s always the question, what are you strong at. But I feel like this team chemistry-wise is exceptionally strong and that’s probably been our strength is-whether it’s the top, middle or bottom of the lineup-somebody has stepped up. Same thing on the mound and so forth.”

“So can you ever predict undefeated? It takes so much luck, we’ve won a lot of close games. But this team has all the makings of a terrific team.”

Their opponents on Saturday could be viewed in the same light, since they are only one bad game removed from their own chase for perfection. Elkhart Central comes into Saturday’s title game at Victory Field against the Irish with a 31-1 record, having bested Lafayette Jefferson 2-1 in their Semi-State game this past weekend.

An opponent of that caliber can make a perfect run through the 2013 season seem a long way away.

“That’s there,” said senior infielder Brendan Flood. “But we’re looking to just go 1-0 on Saturday.”

If they do, history will be made at 29-0.

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