By STEVE KRAH
Promoting positivity, third-year Northfield Junior/Senior High School head baseball coach Clint Davis has the program one win from a return to the IHSAA state championship game.
The Norse (16-14) play Daleville (20-9) Saturday, June 9 in the IHSAA Class 1A Kokomo Semistate for the right to go to the State Finals at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Rather than dwelling on the failures of the game, the Norse are focused on the good.
“We’ve made a pretty good transition the last month or so of getting out the negative thoughts,” says Davis. “We think positive.”
Northfield, which is located in the Wabash County city of Wabash, Ind., had the community full of positive vibes when the coach Tony Uggen and the Norse won state championships in 2001 and 2012 and had a state runner-up finish in 2013 — all in 2A. Uggen is now back at alma mater Blackford.
Davis says it has been a fundamental approach that has gotten the Norsemen this far.
“We run the bases, throw strikes and swing at our pitches,” says Davis. “I’m not re-writing the book at all.”
Northfield’s top pitcher the past two seasons has been left-hander Blake Harner. The senior left-hander had 16 strikeouts and one walk in the Caston Sectional championship game against South Newton and 13’s and one free pass in eight scoreless innings in the Caston Regional semifinals against South Central.
Junior right-hander Nate Drancik started the regional championship game against Fremont — a contest won in walk-off fashion. Sophomore right-hander Jonah Truman was the winner in relief.
Leading hitters for the Norse are junior shortstop Chance Hartman, Harner, senior left fielder Matt Coe, senior second baseman/first baseman Jared Vigar and freshman third baseman and lead-off man Clayton Tomlinson.
Varsity assistants to Davis are Tory Shafer and Erik Hisner (who came over to Northfield after a decade at Whitko, including earning the Wildcats’ first sectional title in 2017). Junior varsity coaches are Stan Cox and Shane Vigar. The Norse had 27 players in the program this spring, playing on-campus at Winegardner Field.
Davis, who also serves as Northfield’s athletic director and has been kept extra-busy this week preparing his baseball team while looking to hire a new boys basketball head coach.
“It’s been a good busy,” says Davis.
Through his relationship with Andy McManama at the World Baseball Academy in Fort Wayne, where the Norse played early in the season, Davis and his teammate getting a chance to practice this week on the ASH Centre turf.
Kokomo Municipal Stadium also has an artificial surface.
Early in the week, Davis had not yet gathered too much information about Daleville. But he is familiar with Broncos head coach Terry Turner. They saw each other twice a year when Davis was at Marion High School and Turner was head coach at Anderson High School.
Davis came to Northfield after two seasons as head coach at Marion. In his second year, he helped the Giants to 12 victories — their highest total in more than a decade.
His focus was teaching patience along with general life lessons.
“Those guys bought in,” says Davis, who was an assistant to Dave Ginder at Fort Wayne Carroll and Mark Grove at Churubusco before his stint at Marion.
Northfield is a member of the Three Rivers Conference (along with Maconaquah, Manchester, North Miami, Peru, Rochester, Southwood, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko).
A 1996 Churubusco graduate, the thing that Davis noticed must about Grove was his temperament.
“His his personality is very even the whole time,” says Davis. “He didn’t get too high or too low. The kids fed off that.
“As you spend some more time in the game, you understand that it is a game of failure.”
Davis did not play college baseball. He did earn degrees in sports medicine and health education at Ohio Northern University, a minor in physical education at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne and a master’s degree in administration from Ball State University. Before going into administration, he was a teacher.
Saturday, June 9
Class 1A: Northfield (16-14) vs. Daleville (20-9), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 3A: Andrean (29-6) vs. Jay County (20-6), following.
Class 2A: Boone Grove (19-5) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (26-4), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 4A: Chesterton (18-7) vs. Fishers (27-7), following.
Class 1A: University (27-6) vs. Tecumseh (20-9), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 4A: Indianapolis Cathedral (21-8-1) vs. Castle (22-8), following.
Class 2A: Indianapolis Scecina (13-15-1) vs. Southridge (24-6), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 3A: Indian Creek (24-5) vs. Silver Creek (24-2), following.
Third-year Northfield High School head baseball coach Clint Davis (center) celebrates an IHSAA Class 3A Regional championship with varsity assistants Tory Shafer (left) and Erik Hisner.
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