By STEVE KRAH
Brad Scott has steadily risen through the baseball coaching ranks and now finds himself leading a program one win from a state championship.
Scott, 26, is in his first full season at Rossville High School (he took over in 2016) and will lead the 24-8 Hornets against Lanesville (19-6) in the IHSAA Class 1A title game at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 17 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
“It’s kinda crazy,” says Scott of his coaching ascent from recreation ball to all-stars to travel baseball to high school assistant and then head coach. “Coaching’s been a part of me since I was 16.”
Scott played two seasons at Lafayette Jeff and one at McCutcheon, where he graduated in 2009. He then played two seasons at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., before returning to the Lafayette area.
He was going to be an assistant at McCutcheon when Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jake Burton left that program and was hired at Rossville, which is located in Clinton Couny.
The 2017 Hornets feature a regular lineup with four senior leaders — shortstop Matt Homco, third baseman-pitcher Trevor Waggoner, Nate Clendenen and first baseman Harrison Whitman — and five sophomores.
“We are a very, very mentally strong team,” says Scott. “The leadership we have at the senior level is like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
The Hornets went 6-2 and placed fourth in the Hoosier Heartland Conference, which played a round robin followed by crossover games. Rossville is in the West Division with Carroll (Flora), Clinton Prairie, Frontier and Tri-County. The East Division includes Eastern (Greentown), Clinton Central, Sheridan and Tri-Central.
Tackling a regular-season schedule with bigger schools like Kokomo, Lafayette Harrison and Logansport in 4A, Maconaquah, Peru and West Lafayette in 3A has toughened Rossville for the postseason.
“That’s how you advance in the tournament — preparation and facing adversity,” says Scott, whose assistant coaches are Jon Jacoby, Evan Muinzer and Mason Roberts.
Rossville bested Pioneer and Clinton Central to win the Frontier Sectional, Daleville and Hagerstown to reign at the Carroll (Flora) Regional and South Newton to take the Plymouth Semistate.
The sectional title was the fourth in school history and first since 2002.
“That’s been really cool for our community,” says Scott. “And it’s made the kids believe.”
Scott Stair was Rossville’s head coach in 2000 when the Hornets won their first regional and made its first State Finals appearance.
Scott has welcomed new IHSAA 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) because it has allowed him to be less “tricky” in calling pitches and trying to strike opponents out or chase pitches out of the strike zone.
Hornet pitchers are much more likely to pitch to contact and Scott likes to switch up his arms to give opponents different looks.
“If we have a walk or go deep in counts, our defense can fall asleep,” says Scott. “It’s helped the whole process. Let them hit it. It’s worked so far.
“A lot of the teams we have in the postseason have a 1A (starter on the mound). I’m not a fan of letting a batter see the pitcher too many times in one game so they don’t get too comfortable.”
Lanesville will be making its second straight 1A championship appearance. The Eagles lost to Daleville in 2016.
Brad Scott, who took over as head baseball coach at Rossville early in the 2016, has the 2017 Hornets in the IHSAA Class 1A state championship game. (Aaron Kennedy/Frankfort Times Photo)
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