Madison Central has a perfect record (16-0) more than halfway through baseball's soggy regular season. The Indians, No. 1 in this week's coaches' poll, are the last undefeated team (baseball or softball) in the state.
Looking for words to explain Madison Central's winning ways, senior pitcher Nicky Edwards borrowed a comment made by VCU basketball coach Shaka Smart during the Rams' improbable run to the NCAA Final Four a few weeks ago. "He said it's amazing what a team can do when they don't care who gets the credit," Edwards said. "That describes us."
Madison Central's success isn't a surprise. Most of its starters are back from last year's 29-11 team that lost a heartbreaker to Lexington Christian in the 11th Region semifinals. Four seniors have led the way: Edwards (3-0, 1.47 ERA); Alex Dapkus (.520 batting average); Isaac Smith (.364), and Logan Smith (.353, 4-0, 0.64 ERA).
Sophomore Jimmy Wright (.371) and junior Dusty Ridner (4-0, 0.67 ERA) have also shone. "We're not a star-studded team; we just know our roles and play together," Logan Smith said.
Coach Steve Roof credits terrific pitching (1.17 team ERA) and defense, and the players' "effort and attitude" for helping them deal with distractions. "We talk about focusing only on those things we can control," Roof said.
One thing the Indians can't control is people in the community constantly referencing the 1982 Madison Central team that won the state title with a 40-0 record, the last undefeated state champ. Talk about setting the bar high. But it's a waste of time to think any baseball team can go unbeaten, which is why it's never a topic of conversation among these Indians. "We just try to focus on the next pitch," said Roof, who noted the tough competition in the 11th Region, which has seven teams rated in the state's top 20.
Assistant coach David Withers played on the last Madison Central teams that won the region, in 1991 and '93. He remembers how the '91 Indians took a 31-3 record to the state semifinals before losing, but the fans still insisted on comparing them to the '82 team.
"That," Roof said, "is why we just try to focus on the next pitch."
Madison Central puts its winning streak on the line in the Louisville Invitational Tournament. For the weekend schedule, go to http://fieldsnotes.bloginky.com/
■ It's been a fun spring for Pikeville's baseball and softball teams so far. Baseball coach Steve Priode picked up his 100th career win this week and his No. 21-rated Panthers ran their record to 20-2. Pikeville's softball team, under first-year coach Matt Walls, is 18-1 and won the 15th Region All "A" title.
■ Kentucky National Insurance is the new title sponsor of the state baseball tournament. This year's event will be June 13-18 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington. First-round pairings were drawn this week. June 13: 4th Region vs. 14th; 7th vs. 13th; 1st vs. 3rd; 5th vs. 10th. June 14: 2nd vs. 8th; 16th vs. 12th; 6th vs. 11th; 9th vs. 15th.
■ The state fast-pitch softball tournament at Jack Fisher Park in Owensboro will be extended to a three-day event starting on June 9. First-round pairings were drawn this week: 6th Region vs. 10th; 4th vs. 12th; 13th vs. 5th; 8th vs. 2nd; 11th vs. 3rd; 1st vs. 16th; 7th vs. 14th; 9th vs. 15th.
■ Lexington Catholic grad K.C. Massie, a senior pitcher at Georgetown College, is 9-3 with a 2.16 ERA, 66 strikeouts and 20 walks. Paul Laurence Dunbar alum Tyler Back leads Georgetown with a .322 batting average and 22 RBI. Tates Creek grad Tanner Baldwin is hitting .313 with 27 runs.
■ Bullitt East 6-9 sophomore basketball star Derek Willis committed to Purdue this week. He can't sign with the Boilermakers until November, 2012. Willis averaged 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots for the Chargers' Sweet Sixteen semifinal team. Coach Troy Barr told the West Lafayette, Ind., newspaper: "The No. 1 thing (Willis) has is the ability to create mismatches. He needs to develop his inside game, but we're talking about a kid who is 15, wears a size 18 shoe and has a 7-1 wingspan. The amazing thing is he really hasn't had that one growth spurt yet." Dale Willis, Derek's dad, played high school hoops at Louisville Southern, and college ball at Alaska-Anchorage.
■ Bryan Station alum Charles Ashford, an honorable mention junior college All-American at Vincennes, signed with Coastal Carolina. A 6-1 point guard, Ashford averaged 12.5 points and seven assists at VU. "He's got the ability to distribute the ball, he's got a good assist-to-turnover ratio, and he shoots the ball really well," Coastal Carolina Coach Cliff Ellis said.
■ Lexington Catholic shooting star Scott Schuette signed this week to play college hoops at Rollins, an NCAA Division II school in Winter Park, Fla., that tied a school record with 27 wins this winter. Schuette averaged 18 points in helping Lexington Catholic reach the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in four years.
■ Eastern star Remy Abell has committed to Indiana. The 6-4 all-stater signed with Bradley last fall, but after the Braves fired their coach, Abell asked for and got his release, and opted for IU.
■ Mike Listerman, one of the nicest guys in the business, has resigned as Covington Catholic boys' basketball coach. Listerman was a Colonels assistant for 15 years before becoming head coach in 2000. His teams won 230 games and two 9th Region titles. He was also head coach at Harrison County in the early 1980s. Listerman, 58, will remain at CovCath as a teacher.
■ Male hired Larry Miller as its boys' basketball coach. Miller was at Moore 16 years and had a record of 243-219.
■ Lex Lindsey is Franklin-Simpson's new boys' basketball coach. He was the school's girls' coach for eight years and had an overall record of 208-43, including a state runner-up finish in 2008 and two other Sweet Sixteen appearances.
■ Union County senior Caleb Ervin, a three-time state wrestling champ, was one of five national finalists for the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award, which recognizes athletic and academic achievement, character, citizenship, and community service. Ervin, who had a 199-7 career record, has a 3.5 GPA. He signed with Illinois.
■ Shelby Grant of Henry Clay will play college golf at Centre and be teammates again with former Lady Blue Devil Whitney Miller.
■ Caldwell County's Emma Talley, a two-time state high school champ, will try to defend her title in the Kentucky Junior Masters, an 18-hole tournament Sunday at Champion Trace in Nicholasville. The boys' competition will include Hunter Stewart of state champ Lexington Christian Academy, and Will Bishop of Dunbar.
■ Boyle County football player Josh Broyles, Bourbon County wrestler Joe Elam, Nicholas County football player Wes Hopkins and Tates Creek wrestler Morgan Turner are on the inaugural All-Resilient team, which honors 19 high school athletes who overcame adversity to participate in sports. Tom Leach, voice of UK football and men's basketball, came up with the idea for the All-Resilient team, which is sponsored by the Kentucky National Guard. For a list of all the honorees and their stories, go to tomleachky.com.
■ The Kentucky High School Athletic Directors Association held its annual banquet Thursday night and honored those who received Dr. Rudy J. Ellis Distinguished Service Awards: Lee Murphy (Casey County), Marion Martin (Louisville Central), Ken and Jan Schmidt (Notre Dame Academy), Barth Johnson (Pendleton County) and Mike Guetig (Trinity). The State Award of Merit went to Arthur Ballard of Estill County. Harrison County baseball coach Mac Whitaker won the Garnis Martin Outstanding Coach Award.
■ The 13th Region Boys' Basketball Coaches Association's annual all-star games are Sunday at Knox Central. The underclassmen play at 2 p.m., followed by the seniors.
■ Eleven years ago this week Trinity introduced Bob Beatty from Blue Springs, Mo., as its new football coach. It would be an understatement to say it's turned out to be a good hire. Under Beatty, Trinity has a 140-21 record and eight state titles.