By STEVE KRAH
It’s been six years since Fort Wayne Carroll stood at Victory Field in Indianapolis celebrating back-to-back IHSAA state baseball championships.
Carroll head coach Dave Ginder and his staff have used those teams as an example to the Charger teams that followed.
That includes 2017, which is the 15th season for Ginder setting the tone.
“We were fortunate enough to do it two years in a row which was an incredible experience and memories,” says Ginder. “We talk about those kids and how they approached the game a lot to our kids right now.”
With a single-elimination tournament format, Ginder takes nothing for granted while keeping the goal of returning to the State Finals.
“A lot of coaches around the state can say they have a team that can win a state title. To say they’re expecting to is pretty tough to do. We want to continue to develop through the season in hopes that we’re a tough out in May and June.
“Somebody’s going to have got play pretty well to beat us. That’s the goal. But we tell our kids, it’s never easy to advance.”
Carroll, an independent during the regular season, will play in the five-team Class 4A DeKalb Sectional with DeKalb, East Noble, Fort Wayne Northrop and Fort Wayne Snider.
The Chargers are off to a 12-3 start in ’17, pushing Ginder’s career victory total to 327.
Since Ginder’s first season as a head coach (2003), Carroll has won eight sectionals, four regionals and two semistates besides the two state titles.
Ginder, a 1991 Carroll graduate, played for Chris Adams at CHS and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Don Brandon at Anderson University before coming back to be on Adams’ staff.
In Adams, Ginder learned what it meant to be detail-oriented.
“He was very thorough in teaching the game,” says Ginder. “I picked up a lot of details from Chris.
“He got the program started in the direction it’s going today.”
With Brandon, it was his approach with student-athletes.
“It was just the way he talked with kids and treated them with respect and was honest with them,” says Ginder. “This is where I see you fit in our program.”
Ginder’s assistant coaches are Brett Windmiller (15th season), Chad Kohli (eighth season) and Jason Lantz (seventh season) at the varsity level with Andy McNanama (second season) and Jon Timmerman (first season) lead the JV squad. Windmiller is the hitting coach and Kohli the pitching coach.
“I don’t feel like we’ve been effected by the pitching rules,” says Ginder. “We’ve always kept track of pitches and tried to manage kids. We keep them fresh and not overuse them. We haven’t pushed anybody over 100 pitches this spring. Come tournament time who knows what happens?”
Dan Jones is in his first season as Carroll’s strength and conditioning coach.
“I’ve been blessed with tremendous coaches,” says Ginder. “The guys in the dugout I can trust. They’e been with me a long time.
“We’ve had stability. We know each other well and the kids know what to expect. That consistency has been important.”
Ginder is a familiar name in the Fort Wayne athletic and education community.
Math teacher Dave’s father Phil Ginder taught and coached girls basketball at Fort Wayne Northrop and ran Huntertown Lions Club Youth League.
Twin brother Dan Ginder was an assistant with Park at Northrop and Dave at Carroll and is now athletic director for the Chargers. The twins both played at Anderson U. and then independent pro baseball with the Anderson Lawmen.
Carroll, which has sent many players off to college, does not have a structured feeder system though players come through the Huntertown Lions and Wallen youth leagues and various travel organizations.
Ginder laments that the size and importance of local youth leagues have dwindled around the state and the country over the years.
“Everyone’s got a travel team,” says Ginder. “It has diluted travel baseball, too. Their son may not be not as elite as mom and dad think they are. House ball would be just fine
“The days of house ball picking an all-star team and going to some tournaments as a town and a community are rare anymore. There’s good and bad to everything, but I think there was some good in keeping kids together.”
To keep Carroll baseball in the minds of players and parents, the high school stages camps and a fall league.
“Hopefully, those little guys will want to be Chargers someday,” says Ginder.
This spring, Carroll is carrying 37 players between its varsity and JV squads.
“High school baseball is a short season,” says Ginder. “Playing time is tough. Cuts are not fun for anybody. We’re cutting 30, 40 kids who want to play. We make some tough decisions and there’s some disappointed kids. Unfortunately, there’s not enough space for everybody.”
Dave Ginder, in his 15th season as head baseball coach at Fort Wayne Carroll High School, already has more than 300 wins and two state championships on his resume.