By STEVE KRAH
Shakamak Junior-Senior High School in Jasonville, Ind., has established a tradition of excellence on the baseball diamond.
As the Lakers go into the one-game IHSAA Class 1A Mooresville Semistate against first-time regional winner Borden (22-6-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 12, they can count all-time totals of 26 sectionals, 13 regionals, seven semistates and two state titles (2008 and 2014).
The Shakamak-Borden winner moves on to the State Finals to play Washington Township (25-7) or Cowan (15-13) either Monday or Tuesday, June 21 or 22 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
In 2021, Shakamak beat White River Valley 14-0, Clay City 10-0 and Bloomfield 4-1 to win the White River Valley Sectional and Southwestern (Shelbyville) 10-1 and Oldenburg Academy 13-0 to reign at the Morristown Regional.
The Lakers were 2-4 in the six games before sectional.
“We got hot at the right time,” says Jeremy Yeryar (pronounced YIRE), Shakamak’s first-year head coach. “The kids got hot at the right time. The way we approach it we’re 5-0.
“The postseason. That’s when it really matters.
“The pitching’s been really good and solid. The defense and the bats have really come alive lately. We switched up things in practice and kept us in game mode.
“We’re playing for those seven seniors. Everybody who’s been at this school would like to put that uniform on one more time. I don’t want to let go of the seniors just yet.”
The Class of 2021 is represented by Ethan Burdette, Logan Burris, Trevor Ellingsworth, Brevon Fulford, Bryce Jenkins, Clayton “Buddy” Stone and Peyton Yeryar (cousin to Jeremy).
There have been plenty of success, but Yeryar is not taking credit for those.
“It’s my motto: Players win; Coaches lose,” says Yeryar. “If we lose, that’s on me. If we win, that’s on the kids.”
Yeryar, a 1993 Shakamak graduate who played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chip Sweet.
“The program that I played under him is a lot of the program I’m running,” says Yeryar. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
“We teach more than a game. We teach life lessons along the way. Baseball is not fair at times and neither is life. You can come up short at times. Baseball is a game of failure.
“We hold our athletes to a high standard. You should lead at school or anywhere out in the public.”
Yeryar, who was a Lakers assistant for Sweet and his successor Todd Gambill, asks his players to give their all each time out.
“They know what’s at stake,” says Yeryar. “We lost a whole year last year (to the COVID-19 pandemic) and it can happen again.
“So if this was the last time I got to play this game was I satisfied with the way I did it?”
Shakamak graduates Dylan Collins (Class of 2015), Jake Walters (Class of ’15), Brent Yeryar (Class of ’95), Brett Yeryar (Class of ’14), Braxton Yeryar (Class of ’15) and Tanner Yeryar (Class of ’17) and Bloomfield alum Jason Pegg (mid-1990’s) are also part of the 2021 coaching staff.
Brent and Brett are Jeremy’s cousins. Braxton and Tanner are the youngest sons of Jeremy and wife Stacy (a Shakamak cafeteria worker). The oldest son — Braden Cox (Class of ’13) — also played baseball for the Lakers.
Collins played at Vincennes University and Purdue Northwest. Brett and Tanner Yeryar played at VU.
Another former Laker player — Braden Scott (Class of ’16) — pitched out of the bullpen the past few seasons for Indiana University.
While not committed, Burdette and Peyton Yeryar have drawn interest from college program.
Shakamak (enrollment around 200) is a member of the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, North Central of Farmersburg, North Daviess and White River Valley).
The Lakers are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eminence, North Central and White River Valley (the 2021 host).
Besides conference and postseason opponents, Shakamak has played Bloomington North, Jasper, Martinsville, Owen Valley, Riverton Parke, Sullivan, Terre Haute North Vigo, Terre Haute South Vigo, Washington and West Vigo.
“We play a very brutal schedule,” says Yeryar. “We always have.”
The Lakers play just one game each against SWIAC teams to free them up to play a strong non-conference slate. It gets them ready for the postseason and is beneficial to their opponents.
“Shakamak travels well,” says Yeryar, who also does utilities for the City of Jasonville. “Coaches always keep us on the schedule. They say, ‘you make a game out of everything.’
“We take a lot of pride in that.”
The Lakers plays home games on-campus. The field got plenty of attention from coaches and players the past year.
“The kids do the field work with me,” says Yeryar. “If you work on the field you’ll respect it and take pride in it.”
Shakamak Youth League (T-ball to age 12), the Shakamak Lakers travel team and a junior high program (grades 6-8) all go into feeding high school baseball.
Braden Cox (left), Stacy, Jeremy, Tanner and Braxton Yeryar.
Shakamak baseball seniors for 2021 (from left): Logan Burris, Trevor Ellingsworth, Brevon Fulford, Buddy Stone, head coach Jeremy Yeryar, Peyton Yeryar, Bryce Jenkins and Ethan Burdette.