By STEVE KRAH
Enthusiasm for baseball is building in a small community in southern Indiana.
Perry Central Junior-Senior High School in Leopold, Ind., and its feeder system is making the diamond sport a priority as the high school gets ready to play its first games since 2019 after missing 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The challenge of high school baseball is really, really unique — you develop players you already have,” says Stowe. “I relish that challenge.
“We’re trying to develop a program by building a collaborative culture to better baseball in our area.”
Perry Central youth baseball tends to have four to five teams per age group — 7-8, 9-10 and 11-12.
“It all starts with our youth and treating them right,” says Stowe. “It’s all about the kids and what’s best for them.”
Many kids play both recreation and travel ball.
The junior high (seventh and eighth graders) plays 20 to 25 games in the spring with a varsity and a junior varsity.
Those squads share a field with the high school — a diamond which got plenty of TLC in 2020. There has been a revamping of the mound and plate areas. A new hitting area and re-done bullpens are planned as well as an update for “The Barn” indoor facility.
“It’s amazing what it’s become,” says Stowe. “We try to take it to the next level each year. With the help of the administration, we do what we can.”
With 61 wins the last 10 years, Perry Central is known for its football. Stowe wants baseball to be a strong part of the school’s identity.
The Commodores are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Evansville Mater Dei, Forest Park, North Posey, South Spencer and Tell City. Perry Central has never won a sectional baseball title.
In 2019, the Commodores reached the championship game of the South Spencer Sectional and were optimistic about the 2020 season. But that campaign did not happen.
“We were expected to compete at a high level (in 2020),” says Stowe. “It was rough.”
Perry Central had one senior and that was career earned run average leader Bill Hubert.
“He’s an amazing kid,” says Stowe.
When things began to open up again after a long quarantine, Stowe helped organize Senior Games which brought senior baseball and softball players from Indiana and Kentucky to play at Cannelton (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School.
“It gave some of them closure,” says Stowe. “They were able to display their skills one last time.
“It meant a lot to the people of our area.”
At Perry Central’s small size, three-sport athletes are common. Stowe appreciates his relationship with head football coach Greg Gibson and head boys basketball coach Matt Carter.
“They’re both classy guys,” says Stowe. “Everybody supports each other really well.”
There were no baseball workouts in the fall. Right now, players not in a winter sport are conditioning and lifting weights. In February comes more baseball activity.
Stowe says he is expecting to a have 35 players in the program, including 10 seniors. For the first time, there are three seniors who have committed to college baseball — starting catcher Brayden Stowe (Adam’s son) to Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky., ace pitcher/infielder Wes Scamahorn to Oakland City (Ind.) University and first baseman/pitcher Reece Davis to Southeastern Illinois College — a junior college in Harrisburg, Ill.
Stowe, a 2001 graduate of nearby Tell City (Ind.) High School, teaches History and Social Studies at Perry Central.
Before coming back to Indiana and serving as hitting instructor for the Jeremy Edwards-coached Commodores in 2019, he coached travel ball for various age groups in Meade County, Ky. He holds a Social Studies/Teaching degree from the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville and a masters in Counseling from Western Kentucky University.
Besides Stowe, the 2021 Perry Central coaching staff features Jason Scamahorn, Sam Bland, Larry McDaniel and volunteer hitting instructor Jim Huber.
Besides Brayden, Adam and wife Amber (physical therapy patient care coordinator) have a 12-year-old seventh grade daughter named Emma.