By STEVE KRAH
Mike Goedde has coached collegians and now leads high schoolers.
“(The difference in) physical skills are obvious,” says Goedde. “With high school players, you have to be more patient. You know you’re going to have more physical and mental errors. You just try to keep them to a minimum.”
Goedde, 55, is a former University of Southern Indiana head coach (1994-2006) who served two stints as University of Evansville pitching coach (1986-88, 1990-93), one year as an Evansville Harrison High School assistant (2010) and is now in his seventh season as head coach at Evansville Central High School.
When the playing career ended, Brownlee gave Goedde a chance to coach.
“He was a huge influence on the field and a huge influence off the field,” says Goedde. “He taught me a lot of things instead of just baseball.
“There’s guys out there that need chances and I can provide those as well.”
Goedde decided to get his teaching license so he could teach baseball and life lessons. He eventually landed at Central for the 2011 season.
“We teach more than just the X’s and O’s,” says Goedde as he prepared the Bears for the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional. “The kids are all ears. Very few of them tune you out. They’re eager to learn.”
With his background, Goedde is hands-on with his pitchers.
“We develop them to win with their fastball,” says Goedde. “I’m not a big fan of a lot of junk (or breaking pitches). Locating the fastball is the most important thing.”
That is the case with his current crop of hurlers and that was true when he coached future big league right-hander Andy Benes at U of E. He was taken first overall by the San Diego Padres in the 1988 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and went on to win 155 MLB games in 14 seasons with the Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks.
“He realized what he was capable of doing and developed it,” says Goedde of the former Central star who is enshrined in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. “Not everybody does that. He’s a very unique player and person.”
Benes resides in St. Louis but was back in the Pocket City this spring for a special occasion.
This spring, Central named its playing facility in honor of the man who built it — IHSBCA Hall of Famer Paul Gries. His 1987 team was a state runner-up the Hall of Famer Ken Schreiber’s LaPorte national champions.
While Goedde never played for or coached with Gries, who retired after the 2001 season, he commends the man.
“The more I coach high school players, the more I admire what he was able to do,” says Goedde. “He was known for developing a family atmosphere.”
Helping Goedde guide the program in 2017 are assistant coaches Robbie Frank, Chris Chitwood and Dave Pfetscher at the varsity level, Jon Pfetscher, Ryan Causey and Charlie Causey with junior varsity and Kevin Kolb and Gary Masterson with the freshmen.
The JV and freshmen have a different schedule from the Bears varsity. Goedde generally keeps 38 to 40 players in the program each season.
The spring, the IHSAA adopted pitch count rules (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).
“I think it’s a great rule,” says Goedde. “It’s being done for all for the right reasons and right purposes.
“It’s something to make people aware of some guidelines.”
Through games played May 18, the Bears had one pitcher come close to the limit, tossing 119 pitches in a complete game.
While pitch count numbers can become a part of strategy, Goedde is of a mind that coaches are coached on their own pitchers more than opponents.
“As time goes on, they’ll figure out ways to get the opposing kid’s count,” says Goedde. “It’s tough to convince (hitters) to drive up the pitch count.”
The Central Bears play in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (along with Castle, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Reitz, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville North and Evansville Memorial).
SIAC schools play each other once a week in a two-game home-and-home series, making it possible for teams to use their top starting pitchers in conference games.
Central players come from area Little League, Babe Ruth and travel programs. In the spring, seventh and eighth graders on their way to Central play Cub baseball.
Mike Goedde is in his seventh season as head baseball coach at Evansville Central High School. He is a former head coach at the University of Southern Indiana and served two stints as pitching coach at the University of Evansville and one as an assistant at Evansville Harrison High School.