They expected success.
But for the rest of the state, Trinity Lutheran’s baseball team is one of the most surprising squads to emerge from Class A in 2016.
On Monday, the Cougars broke into the state ranking at No. 6 in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association’s polls.
Their 8-0 start is unprecedented for a team that boasts 11 players, with 10 that can physically take the field.
In a recent video posted to the Tribune’s Facebook page, I spoke with coach Bob Tabeling and senior pitcher Jacob Schult. Two things stuck out to me in that interview: They were confident and poised in their words.
It has always been my belief that actions speak louder than words, as the cliché goes.
On the field, that’s what this team exemplifies — confidence and poise — and it resonates from top to bottom.
Look at the first game of the season at the Owl Invitational against Class 3A North Harrison. Trinity trailed North Harrison 9-3 going into the fifth inning and rallied to win the game in eight.
The mental toughness that it takes to come back, down six runs, in a season-opener isn’t measurable.
Then a signature 3-1 win against Seymour at American Legion Field, a game that the Cougars will not forget until the next matchup with the Class 4A Owls.
Fast-forward to this past weekend, when the Cougars downed Barr-Reeve and Lanesville 3-1. Those two schools each received votes for the top 10 in Class A.
They’ve won games that many thought they’d drop. Given that level of success, you’d think this team would be dominated by seniors.
However, that’s not the case.
The Cougars feature two seniors, Schult and Bobby Tabeling (who is currently out due to injury), four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.
Believe it or not, the boys golf team has more members than the baseball squad.
This is a team that finished 10-15 in 2015 while losing just two seniors.
Schult has acted as the cornerstone for the Cougars, racking up 13 hits, including a pair of triples and a homer.
On the mound, Schult recently pitched a perfect game against No. 2 Rising Sun — the second in school history.
The rest of the Cougars’ hitting unit is solid, with five players with more than five hits. In the games I’ve covered, the Cougars have made the game smaller.
It’s one out at a time on defense, minimizing errors and making the smart play.
During games, you’ve probably noticed that the Cougars rotate pitchers often.
If Schult isn’t going the distance, the Cougars will throw three to four different guys on the mound. That’s a huge key for this team thus far.
With a limited number of guys on the roster, pitch count plays a factor every game.
It’s a chess match.
The ability for a coaching staff to recognize when a change needs to take place pitching-wise is huge for any team.
It’s what often wins and losses games.
With 19 games left on the schedule, including a doubleheader with Brownstown Central on Saturday, the rest of 2016 will be no easy road.
Regardless, fans have every reason to be excited about this team.
Jordan Morey is sports editor of the Tribune. Send comments to email@example.com.