BY STEVE KRAH
There’s a new travel baseball organization in northern Indiana.
The Indiana Black Caps was officially established July 7, 2019 and expects to field 11U, 12U and 13U teams for the 2020 season.
Jesse Zepeda, who played for coach Steve Stutsman on the 2013 IHSAA Class 4A state champions at Elkhart Central High School then for coach Seth Zartman at Bethel College (now Bethel University), has been with the Indiana Chargers travel organization and wants to bring that kind of focus on development and investment in players.
“We wanted something similar and thus the Black Caps came into motion,” says Zepeda. “We share the same values as the Chargers did and will continue to do so.
“My philosophy is simple: I hope to build a program that is known for tradition and will help develop the kids in to the best version of themselves on and off the field.”
Zepeda considers Chargers founder Joel Mishler and former Chargers assistant coach Wes Bogan among his mentors.
“I’ve only known Joel for about a year and half,” says Zepeda of Mishler. “The man has a great baseball mind and he has taught me a lot about the game in a short period of time of knowing him — things I wish I knew when I was a player.
“I helped him run Charger practices, camps, showcases and tryouts the past year.
“I look to him for advice and tips for coaching. He almost always will have a response to it.”
Zepeda credits Bogan for showing him how to manage the game.
“I learned a lot from him and still continuing to learn,” says Zepeda of Bogan. He has been a big contributor in my young coaching career.”
“I learned so much from the coaches I’ve had throughout the years. One thing that specifically comes to mind was, ‘Don’t think, just have fun’ that one coach told the team.
“This stuck through the hardships and struggles throughout my career.”
Zepeda and Bogan will lead the Black Caps along with Derek Coy and Brant Mast.
The organization plans to do off-season training at Elkhart Sports Center will play and practice around the Elkhart/Goshen area.
Zepeda says the Black Caps will likely play in USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association), Game Day USA, BPA (Baseball Players Association) and Bullpen tournaments around Indiana. There will be approximately eight tournaments from mid-April to mid-July with built-in development weekends.
“In those weekends, we will solely-focus on the players’ development and play one game or a doubleheader against a team,” says Zepeda. “This gives us time to really focus on what we need to improve on.”
Why the Black Caps?
“Coming up with a name was probably one of the hardest parts for us. We kicked around many different names over the course of a couple weeks and the Black Caps just resonated with us,” says Zepeda. “We wanted to try and come up with something unique and that people would remember.”
Jesse Zepeda, a graduate of Elkhart Central High School and Bethel College, has helped start a new travel baseball organization — the Indiana Black Caps. (Bethel College Photo)