After all spring sports took 2020 off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Northeast Corner Conference baseball and softball teams begin tournament play this week.

Eastside’s teams traveled to Fairfield Monday night.

Both Blazer baseball and softball teams have enjoyed a great deal of success in their respective NECC tournaments. The baseball team last won the title in 2017. The softball team won in 2014 and 2015 and reached the championship game in 2016.

In all, the Eastside softball team has won 13 tournament titles. Garrett is next with five titles and four appearances in the title game.

Lakeland has won four tournaments, the last coming in 2018.

Angola won three straight from 2010-2012. Fairfield won in 2008, 2009 and 2016. Westview (2007), Churubusco (2017) and Central Noble (2019) have one title each.

In baseball, Eastside won four straight crowns from 1986 to 1989, with additional titles in 1992, 1999 and 2017.

Since 1981, when most of the current NECC membership came together, West Noble has six championships — 1981, 1982, 1983, 1996, 2000 and 2001.

Churubusco won titles in 1990, 1994, 1995 and 2015. Westview has won the tournament the last two times it was played, and the Warriors lost to Garrett in the 2016 title game and to Eastside in 2017. Since 2010, Westview has reached the championship game seven times.

Turning to the softball record book, some individual and team records could be in jeopardy.

Through 13 games this season, the Blazers have scored 167 runs, for an average of 12.8 runs per game. The season record for runs per game is 13.25, set by the 1989 squad. That’s saying something considering this year’s Eastside team has scored 14 runs or more six times, including four of their last five.

As a team, this year’s Blazers are batting an incredible .441. The team record is .346, set in 1988, which was the first year Eastside played varsity softball.

Individually, several players have legitimate chances to challenge Ashton Miller’s season batting average mark of .570.

No matter how hard these Blazers try, other records may simply be unattainable.

Miller holds the single-season records for most hits (57) and runs scored (46). Lindsay Mitchener set the bar high for doubles in a season with 17 in 1997. Tessa Coats did the same with triples (7, 2012) as did Julie Myers for home runs (10) and runs batted in (46), both in 2001.

With the pitching rubber moved back several years ago, pitching records may forever be etched in stone.

Lauren Ward won 30 games in 2003, setting a state record in the process. She logged 104 wins in her career to go with a career earned run average of 0.87 and 1,446 strikeouts.

After Ward, Miller is next on the career strikeout list with 871, followed by Jaima Harris with 795 and Missy Czaja with 788. Harris ranks second on the career wins list with 71, followed by Czaja (67) and Miller (66).

In baseball, Gary Rinard has withstood many challenges while retaining the season batting average mark at .516. Jeff Jennings has the career batting average record at .420.

Through 12 games, it’s too early to tell if anyone will surpass Rinard’s season batting record, but other marks could be attainable.

In 2003, Matt Rayle set the season hits record with 48. In 2000, Mike Mack established the runs scored record with 41. Mack and Andy Ruckman share the season home run record with 11. Damion “Mutt” Harris has the runs batted in record with 39, set in 1994.

Until a few years ago, pitchers could throw 10 innings in a three-day period. Now, teams must follow pitch counts and give pitchers additional rest. As a result, like softball, Eastside’s baseball pitching records may never be challenged.

In the 1994 season, Harris set the record with 12 victories, while Johnathon Shull won 27 games from 1998 to 2001. Shull also holds the strikeout records for a game (20), season (188) and career (484). Jamison Nuttle has the most complete games in a season (11) and lowest ERA in a season at 0.76.

Statistically speaking

Last week, the two Facebook pages with which I have the most involvement — The Butler Bulletin and The Garrett Clipper — have surpassed or neared new milestones.

The Butler Bulletin now has more than 1,000 followers. To my knowledge, that’s more than the paper ever had as subscribers since I began working for it in 1983.

The Garrett Clipper Facebook page is closing in on 700 followers. When I began making regular posts to the Garrett Facebook page in November 2019, it had 458 followers.

To my friends who follow those pages, I say thank you for your readership.

Jeff Jones has been covering high school sports in northeast Indiana since 1984. Statistics don’t lie: he stands 5-9 and still has trouble hitting the breaking ball. His columns appear periodically in this newspaper.

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