Newcomers making a difference this spring

Apr. 23—The spring sports season is brief and intense, often made more so by weather-induced postponements. While it feels like the season just began, the postseason is only a couple weeks away with both the softball and baseball tournament draws being held this weekend.

With such a brief season, athletes seeing their first extensive varsity time must adapt and contribute quickly for their team to succeed. Fortunately for coaches, there have been a great many newcomers doing exactly that.

Here is a look at a few — not nearly all — of the athletes making a significant varsity impact for the first time:


Junior, Alexandria tennis

Being a newcomer does not necessarily mean being a freshman, and that applies to Bridwell. The Alexandria girls tennis machine cannot keep marching along without new pieces from time to time, and the junior is playing No. 3 singles and has a 6-1 record that mirrors that of the team. Bridwell won her county championship match as Alex won its sixth straight title.


Freshman, Madison-Grant baseball

Whether he has been behind the plate or roaming the outfield, Brooks has been one of the most productive freshman baseball players in the area. He has helped M-G to a 6-4 start as the team's leading hitter with a .444 average and is tied for a team-best nine RBI while striking out just three times in 31 plate appearances.


Freshman, Lapel baseball

Also leading his team in hitting as a freshman, Cripe carries a .480 average through Lapel's first nine games. The right fielder also leads the team with 12 RBI and is tied for the team high with four doubles and is second best with a 1.202 OPS.


Freshman, Madison-Grant softball

There might be a little extra pressure on Dunham, who has taken over in the circle after the graduations of Katie Duncan and Elizabeth Lee, who had combined to pitch the Argylls to back-to-back regional championships. M-G is 6-4, and Dunham has a 4.70 ERA over 41 2/3 innings with 32 strikeouts. She is also hitting. 435 and owns the only Argylls' home run of the season.


Freshmen, Elwood golf

Although inconsistent at times, Groover and Nichols have brought promise to the Elwood golf program. Both have been in the mid-40s to start the season. Combined with solid starts from their vets, the rookies are helping the Panthers field a competitive boys golf team.


Freshmen, Alexandria softball

If the weather allows, the Tigers have an opportunity to exceed the combined win total (13) of the last two seasons, and the arrival of a heralded freshman class that includes Griffin, Humphries, Thomas and Webb is a big reason. Webb is hitting .469 with two homers while playing shortstop, Griffin is at .441 from her catcher position, and Thomas hits .296 with two triples and leads the team with nine steals. Humphries is 7-2 with 82 strikeouts over 51 2/3 innings with an ERA of 0.95.


Sophomore, Alexandria baseball

After just 11 plate appearances as a freshman, Fuller is leading the Tigers (10-5) with a robust .439 average. The second baseman has driven in seven runs with 18 hits and is tied for the team lead with 15 stolen bases. The multi-sport star also has a 1.62 ERA over three appearances on the mound.


Freshmen, Lapel golf

The Bulldogs may be positioned as the top threat to Pendleton Heights for Madison County supremacy, and a pair of talented freshmen are helping with that effort. Beeson carded a 37 to earn medalist honors in his first high school meet while Garber was sixth individually at the Eastbrook invite with an 18-hole score of 81.


Sophomores, Anderson baseball

The first names are similar, and so are the numbers as Hutchison and Kendall have proven to be solid all-around contributors. Hutchison (.333) and Kendall (.308) are among the team's top hitters with a combined 10 RBI and three doubles. The duo has also combined for 28 innings with 35 strikeouts, and Kendall carries a 3.23 ERA.


Freshman, Pendleton Heights track

In a recent dual meet against New Palestine, Pfister won the 300-meter hurdles and the long jump while leading the team with nine points, part of a strong first season. She also accounted for 20 points in helping PH retake the Madison County championship and owns a high jump blue ribbon from earlier in the season at Muncie Burris.


Junior, Pendleton Heights softball

After just five plate appearances — she scored eight times as a courtesy runner — a year ago, Rector's patience has been a reward for PH. Part of a rock-solid outfield defense, she is batting .500 through 15 games with two homers and 16 RBI. She has also struck out 16 batters in 15 innings and boasts a 3-1 record with a 1.87 ERA in the circle.


Freshman, Frankton softball

Unfazed by taking the position of a two-time area player of the year, Stanley has more than proven herself as a talented shortstop. Her bat is as powerful as her rocket right arm, hitting .379 — with a 1.458 OPS — with four homers, a double, a triple and 14 RBI. She also has a great eye at the plate, striking out just once while walking 12 times in 42 appearances.


Freshmen, Lapel softball

Last, but not least, these two freshmen were top contributors to Lapel's first Madison County championship. Bodenhorn is hitting .351 with five doubles and 13 RBI while Zdanowski has been a big part of a deep Bulldogs pitching staff, throwing 22 2/3 innings with 28 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.01 over seven appearances.

Contact Rob Hunt at or 765-640-4886.