The Jackson Indians are prepped and ready to take on their first opponent in the 2023 Missouri State Tournament. After blowing through Districts with relative ease (25-2 run differential), the Tribe is set to go toe to toe with the Lafayette Lancers in the opening round of the State Tourney.
The Lancers have a long baseball history steeped in tradition and MLB All Stars, but this year their play speaks for itself. They are currently 20-12-1 and have some impressive wins under their belt this season, including a 4-3 victory over 6th-ranked Vianney in the District Championship game.
They’ve had some stumbles, but a quarter of their losses this season came at the hands of Francis Howell, who is ranked fourth in the state, so you can’t hold too much against them there. They also managed to play their best baseball at the right time, going 11-2 over their final 13 games to reach the State Tournament.
If the Indians are going to be able to contain this squad, they will have to find a way to neutralize Lafayette’s two best hitters. Zander Schmitt and Tripp Johns are a dangerous power combo, but they can beat teams in a variety of ways. Schmitt does it all with a .434 avg, six homers, 25 RBI and 22 stolen bases, while Johns has five bombs, is hitting just under .300 and has driven in 23.
The Indians will want to watch out for speedster Michael Callahan as well, who leads the team with 26 steals. Aiden Bray has been a force as well this season with a .316 average, three homers and 20 RBI.
If the Indians can keep the Lancer offense at bay they should be in prime shape for a victory. While not necessarily bad, the Lafayette pitching staff is their soft spot, and likely no match for the relentless and deep Indian offense. No one stacks up to John-Paul Sauer or Caden Bogenpohl on the mound for the Lancers, so Jackson should be in a favorable spot.
A mediocre pitching staff having to deal with the likes of Bogey, Baden Hackworth, Quinton Borders and Cooper Rhodes smells of impending doom for Lafayette. Jackson just needs to play their game, stay clean on defense and let the big dogs eat.
These two teams have faced each other twice this season and it was pretty evenly matched. In a double header back in April Lafayette took the first game 3-0, but Jackson came back and won the finale 6-2. It’s a small sample size, but should at least hint that this could be a close game on Saturday.
No word yet as to who will be on the mound in round one for the Tribe, but in a win-or-go-home scenario, expect a top hurler to be toeing the bump.
First pitch is Saturday at 2:30 and Jackson fans should be champing at the bit. Time to knock this one out and go on a deep run. You can watch the game live on MSHSAA.TV by clicking the picture below.