By STEVE KRAH
Lafayette Central Catholic High School has piled up plenty of Indiana baseball hardware.
The Knights have achieved seven IHSAA state championships (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), two state runner-up finishes (2015, 2016) and two other State Finals appearances (2002, 2003).
There’s also been nine semistate (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016), 13 regional (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and 15 sectional (1991, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) titles.
All but one sectional title came with Tim Bordenet as head coach. Fittingly, he dons jersey No. 1 on gamedays.
The 1987 LCC graduate has led the program for 19 seasons (1991-93, 2001-16) and the Knights head into 2017 ranked No. 2 to Providence in Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 2A preseason poll.
LCC is not flashy, but very effective because Bordenet and his assistants (the current staff includes Dave Sterrett and Ryan Johnson on the varsity with Fred Rogers and Ryan DeBoy running the junior varsity) are constantly developing players and keeping expectations high.
The Knights work on the bunt game — offensively, defensively or both — at every practice.
“In today’s game, it’s overlooked quite a bit,” says Bordenet. “But come tournament time, most games are won or lost by the short game (It was a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the seventh inning that allowed Providence to edge LCC 7-6 in the 2016 2A state championship game). Our philosophy offensively is always to put pressure on the defense. We find a way to get on base, find a way to get them over and find way to get them in.
“You do the ordinary things extraordinarily well, you have a pretty good chance of winning.”
Since the majority of players come through the Lafayette Catholic School System from preschool on up, they know from an early age the terminology, togetherness and tenacity employed at the high school level.
“Kids come into our program and they know the expectations,” says Bordenet, who looks at his 2017 roster and sees all but three players who have been in LCSS the entirety of their academic and athletic careers (the move-ins are one who arrived in fifth grade and two who came in seventh grade). “They know how we’re going to practice, the time commitment it’s going to take.
“The hardest part is not to build a program, but to sustain it. To sustain success you have to have kids who are willing to sacrifice and put in the time.”
It’s a culture that extends behind the diamond. The Knights have won or competed for championships in many other sports. The LCC boys basketball team in the 2017 1A championship game Saturday, March 25, sports 11 of 12 players who have been in the school system since Day 1.
“Success breeds success and that’s definitely the case here,” says Bordenet, the LCC athletic director since 2006.
Lafayette’s Catholic grade schools are St. Lawrence (preschool-Grade 6), St. Mary Cathedral (preschool-Grade 3) and St. Boniface (Grades 4-6). Elementary baseball begins at age 9.
LCC houses grades 7-12. A junior high baseball program was installed in 2004.
“That’s one of the most important things we ever did,” says Bordenet. “The learning curve is shorter when they enter high school.”
The level of commitment from families who are invested in the education of their children — that includes academics and athletics — has made a difference at LCC.
“We have an advantage at the elementary age because of that parental involvement,” says Bordenet.
In his 26 total seasons of coaching, Bordenet has learned to teach traditional baseball concepts to the new generation.
“Old school fundamentals are still the staple of our program,” says Bordenet. “But we do a lot more video than when I first started.”
All LCC students have laptop computers and those are employed by the baseball program to share YouTube or MLB.com videos and other information that strikes a chord with athletes in the visual age.
“If there’s a technique we’re trying to emphasize, we’ll give them a link to watch online on their own time and talk about it the next day,” says Bordenet. “We do that frequently.”
Bordenet was inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame in 2012 (42 at the time, he was the youngest inductee ever) and earned his milestone 500th victory in 2016.
He played for three coaches at LCC — Art Laker as a freshman, Terry Thompson as a junior and senior and John O’Malley as a senior. After one season at the University of Evansville and two at Purdue University, Bordenet skipped his senior collegiate season to take the LCC head coaching job.
Having attending LCCS schools all the way through high school and only stepping away while attending college or briefly coaching at other schools, Bordenet describes himself as a “lifer” for the Blue and White.
Bordenet was head coach at Muncie Central in 1994 and 1995, an assistant at South Dearborn in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and an assistant at Benton Central in 1999 and 2000.
LCC was in the Hoosier Heartland Conference 1993-2011. The Knights joined the Hoosier Athletic Conference in 2015. Other members of that loop are Benton Central, Cass, Hamilton Heights, Northwestern, Rensselaer Central, Tipton, Twin Lakes, West Lafayette and Western.
Lafayatte Central Catholic has won seven state baseball championships with Tim Bordenet as head coach.
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