Category Archives: High School

Werling now showing the way for Fort Wayne North Side baseball

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Mike Werling sees a diamond in the rough.
The new head baseball coach at Fort Wayne (Ind.) North Side High School knows there’s been tough times for the Legends and plenty of challenges lie ahead, but his is hopeful he can turn around a struggling program.
“It’s going to take time,” says Werling. “We’re going to take our licks (in 2023). I’m looking for commitment and improvement from day to day.
“We have the talent to compete. We might sneak up on people that overlook North Side this year. It could be a fun ride.”
The fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period is in full swing and the Legends work out Mondays and Wednesdays at Carington Field, which is about four miles southeast of the school.
There are senior captain-led stretches, throwing projections with Tom Emanski drills, full infield/outfield cut-off work, drop-step drills for outfields and Pitchers Fielding Practice to name a few.
“We want to make sure kids know what they’re doing now so it’s not an issue in the spring,” says Werling, who is helped by assistant coaches Reggie Williams and Dezmond McNeilly.
Fort Wayne North Side (enrollment around 1,520) is a member of the Summit Athletic Conference (with Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran, Fort Wayne Northrop, Fort Wayne Snider, Fort Wayne South Side, Fort Wayne Wayne and Homestead).
SAC games are played in home-and-home series and some Saturday doubleheaders.
“It’s a very big, very tough conference for baseball,” says Werling.
The Legends were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Columbia City, Fort Wayne South Side, Fort Wayne Wayne, Homestead and Huntington North. North Side is seeking its first sectional title.
Hamilton Park Little League feeds the Legends program.
“There is a negative stigma for North Side baseball. It’s a matter of changing the culture and making the kids excited about wanting to come out there.”
Werling says having Williams as Hamilton Park Little League president will help spread the word and lift up Legends baseball in a positive light.
Two players from the Class of 2023 — righty-swinging shortstop/third baseman Gabriel Oliva and left-handed pitcher Christian Cox — have been getting looks for bigger colleges.
Welling, who took his new post at the end of August, was pitching coach at North Side 2019 to 2021 and was junior varsity coach at his alma mater — Heritage Junior/Senior High School in Monroeville, Ind., in 2022.
Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Famer Dean Lehrman has been a head baseball coach for 43 seasons — nine at Woodlan and the past 34 at Heritage.
“Coach Dean is a special guy,” says Werling, who was a left-handed pitcher for Lehrman and graduated from Heritage in 2008 then at Ohio Northern University for one season and the Portland Rockets before a labrum injury caused him to stop. “There are mannerisms and ways about him he had then and nothing’s changed. They are the same drills and same workouts. He’s big on the little things and fundamentals. And there’s commitment.”
“My Dean Lehrman comes out all the time in practice. He’s built a very successful program in his time there. What he does works.”
Prior to coaching at North Side, Werling works 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at Sauder Manufacturing in New Haven, Ind., where he drives a forklift.

Mike Werling.
Mike Werling and daughter Raegan.

The Werlings: Mike, Shelby and daughter Raegan.

Jeffersonville hires veteran baseball man Stock to run Red Devils

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The reputation of the school and the draw of the game have come together for Shayne Stock.
He was recently approved as head baseball coach at Jeffersonville (Ind.) School.
“It’s one of the most-storied programs in this part of the state if not the whole state,” says Shock, who welcomed 32 players to IHSAA Limited Contact Period Activities. It is hoped that the Red Devils can field three teams — varsity and sub-varsity — this spring.
Jeffersonville (enrollment around 2,130) is a member of the Hoosier Hills Conference (with Bedford North Lawrence, Columbus East, Floyd Central, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour).
The Red Devils were are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour. Jeffersonville has won 26 sectional titles — the last in 2019.
Three alums — Drew Ellis, Gabe Bierman and Drew Campbell — played pro ball in 2022. Ellis, son of previous Jeffersonville head coach and 1984 JHS graduate Derek Ellis, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2021.
The Red Devils regularly produce college players.
Max McEwen (Class of 2022) went to Indiana State University. Shortstop/pitcher Brett Denby is verbally-committed to the University of Georgia.
Jeffersonville plays home games on Don Poole Field at John Schnatter Stadium. The facility got a turf infield a few years back.
In assembling his coaching staff, Stock has gotten commitments so far from Jeff Crawford, Alec Dunn and Josh Biven. Crawford has been in the program for two decades. Dunn, a teacher, played for four years Stock at Hanover. Biven coached New Albany Little League deep into the tournament and is the father of University of Louisville freshman Tucker Biven.
Jeff/GRC Little League also has a shining profile and feeds the high school program. With two middle schools — Parkview and River Valley — Stock hopes to have full seventh and eighth grade teams in the spring.
Stock concluded a 13-year run as head coach at Hanover (Ind.) College in 2018.
“I enjoyed working with the guys on a day-to-day basis, the competition level and the travel,” says Stock.
Before leading the NCAA Division III Hanover Panthers, Stock served as head coach for four years at NCAA DIII Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. (2002 to 2005), pitching coach at DIII DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. (1998 and 1999) and was an assistant at Clarksville (Ind.) High School (1997) and an assistant at Hanover (2000 and 2001) under Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association and American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dr. Dick Naylor.
A 1992 Clarksville graduate, Shayne played for and later coached with his father Wayne Stock, who went into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame in 1994.
Everything I know about being professional and communicating with kids I learned in my first 22 years,” says Shayne Stock of his father. “He is the foundation of any opportunity I’ve ever had.
“I would assume there are lots of similarities (in our coaching styles). (My teams are) going to be well-prepared and well-disciplined. We’ll play hard until the 21st out is recorded.”
Stock is a 1996 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. Gary Redman led the NCAA Division II Screaming Eagles his freshman year and Mike Goedde the last three seasons.
“(Redman) is the the most meticulous detail-oriented human,” says Stock. “He’s the best baseball coach I’ve been around.
“Pretty much all I do pitching philosophy-wise comes from Coach Goedde.”
Stock earned a Masters in Education from Indiana University Southeast in New Albany in 2004. He has taught at area high schools, including Jeffersonville and Charletown, and is married with children.

Shane Stock.
Shayne Stock.
Don Poole Field at Jeffersonville (Ind.) High School.

Foster gets opportunity to lead Adams Central Jets program

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

A large swath of Josh Foster’s life — nearly 20 years — has been attached to baseball at Adams Central Middle/High School in Monroe, Ind.
The new Jets head coach was a student manager for three years of middle school. He played for AC for four years under four different head coaches — Dave Neuenschwander, Mark Conrad, Jody Wendle and Herb Bergman.
“It was a blessing,” says Foster. “I gained knowledge from all four.”
After college, he came back and served junior varsity coach and then varsity assistant.
Neuenschwander approached him to let him know 2022 — Nick Neuenschwander’s senior year — would be his last year leading the baseball program.
“We were in-sync,” says Foster of himself and Dave Neunschwander, who also imparted lessons to him on the football field. “My senior year, (head coach Rick) Minnich needed to motivate me a little bit. He sent me to Coach Newy who said we need to to step it up. He was not rude, but was not going to sugar-coat it. We’ve had that friendship.
“It’s been great having a mentor like that.”
Adams Central lost in the baseball sectional in Foster’s junior year (2000) then finished as IHSAA Class 1A state runners-up in his senior season (2001).
Foster was one of 19 seniors on the Jets 2000 Class 1A state football championship team and one of nine 12th graders on the baseball and basketball teams (AC advanced to the regional).
Foster played three seasons at the Doug Coate-coached University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.
“I was transitioning into a closer, but I was ready to get married,” says Foster, who made high school sweetheart and 2002 Adams Central graduate Julie his wife and the couple went about building a family that now includes five children — seventh grader Jencee, fifth grader Jaxsen, fourth grader Jordyn and kingergarteners Judsen and Jarren.
Josh has been involved with coach his sons’ youth and travel teams. Kevin Foster, Josh’s father, took him to Pony League practices at 3 and has helped his son as a coach.
Adams Central (enrollment around 375) is a member of the Allen County Athletic Conference (with Bluffton, Heritage, Jay County, South Adams, Southern Wells and Woodlan).
The Jets were part of an IHSAA Class 2A baseball sectional grouping in 2022 with Bluffton, Churubusco, Eastside, South Adams and Woodlan. Adams Central has won eight sectional titles — the last in 2016. The Jets last won the ACAC in 1976.
For the first time in years Adams Central is taking part in IHSAA Limited Contact Period fall practices (two hours two times a week).
Led by Foster and junior varsity coach Lance Busse (Class of 2016), these sessions have been attended by up to 12 players — many of them sixth graders.
Foster has been putting together AC’s first middle school baseball program. It will likely be a club team with seventh and eighth grade squads playing game against Indiana and Ohio teams during the spring.
Two dozen middle school players came out to a recent meeting and more are expected. Foster is seeking volunteers to coach the boys.
This supplements the feeder program that is the Monroe Youth League.
Besides Busse, Foster expects Jalen Hammond (Class of 2019) to be on the coaching staff.
A project on Adams Central’s field calls for leveling the infield and there has been talk of installing a warning track.
Knowing the players as he does, Foster is optimistic about the Jets’ potential.
“I am expecting a lot out of the guys, says Foster. “We lost nine (to graduation) last year.
“If come out ready to work and do things that right way we can be successful.”
Class of 2022’s Blake Heyerly at (Vincennes, Ind., University) and Jaren Hildebrand (Spring Arbor University), Class of 2021’s Justin Bultemeier (Ivy Tech Northeast Community College in Fort Wayne) and Class of 2019’s Parker Bates (Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne) are recent Adams Central graduates that moved on to college baseball.
“Coach Neuenschwander did a nice job of getting guys seen and plan to continue that,” says Foster.
Dalton Combs (Class of 2013) was a 2022 Frontier League All-Star in Washington, Pa. Foster took some of his young players to see Combs in the game. Kyle Baker (Class of 2014) is on the Saint Francis coaching staff.
Foster is also Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent, based in Monroe.

Three generations (clockwise from upper left): Kevin, Josh and Jaxsen Foster.
The Fosters (clockwise from upper left): Julie, Josh, Jencee, Judsen, Jaxsen, Jarren and Jordyn.

Josh, Jaxsen and Julie Foster.

Josh, Jaxsen and Judsen Foster.

Jaxsen and Josh Foster.
Dalton Combs (2013 Adams Central High School graduate) with Max Suman, Jaxsen Foster and Chandler Hirschy at the 2022 Frontier League All-Star Game in Washington, Pa.

Alum Redford first-year head coach, teacher for New Albany Bulldogs

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Tim Redford was a player at New Albany (Ind.) High School when he proclaimed that one day he’d be the Bulldogs head baseball coach.
He just didn’t know that he’d be 24 when that proclamation came true.
Redford, a 2016 New Albany graduate, was offered in the job that came open with the retirement of Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chris McIntyre in July and was school-board approved in early August.
The former catcher is also a first-year teacher with three hours each of Health and Physical Education each school day at NAHS.
Redford is heading into the fourth week of IHSAA Limited Contact practice. Twenty players who are not tied up with fall or winter sports have been on Mt. Tabor Field for two hours on Mondays and Thursdays.
“It’s nice,” says Redford of the limited contact. “I haven’t seen these kids play. I can figure out what we’ve got.”
Redford says heavy weightlifting and conditioning will likely start after fall break.
The past two years, Redford has been an assistant baseball coach at NAIA member Rheinhardt University (Waleska, Ga.).
“I love the college level,” says Redford. “But there’s nothing like home.”
Redford, who turns 25 in January, played for McIntyre. He was New Albany head coach for 26 seasons.
“He helped us off the field as much as on it with becoming good husbands, fathers and citizens,” says Redford for Coach Mac. “A lot of these kids aren’t going to play college baseball and it’s important.
“He did an incredible job.”
Redford was a catcher at New Albany and then at Kaskaskia College (a junior college in Centralia, Ill.) and NAIA member William Woods University (Fulton, Mo.). He says this experience helped prepare him for coaching.
“Catching is the hardest position in baseball in my opinion,” says Redford. “You’re involved in every play
be the quarterback on the field.”
Former Purdue University All-American Mitch Koester was Redford’s head coach at Kaskaskia.
“He’s great coach and a very, very good recruiter,” says Redford, whose college decision out of New Albany came down to the KC and John A. Logan in Carterville, Ill. “He’s a players’ coach. He knows his stuff.”
In two seasons at William Woods, Redford played for two head coaches — Brock Nehls (who went on to be pitching coach at Emporia State, Kan., University) and Chris Fletcher (who has helped start baseball at Moberly, Mo., Area Community College).
Redford earned an associate degree at Kaskaskia, an undergraduate Exercise Science degree with a concentration in Sports Management from William Woods and a Masters in Sports Administration and Leadership from Rheinhardt.
New Albany (enrollment around 1,840) is a member of the Hoosier Hills Conference (with Bedford North Lawrence, Columbus East, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Jennings County and Seymour).
The Bulldogs were champions of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Jennings County and Seymour. New Albany won its 23rd sectional title at Jennings County.
Redford is in the process of assembling his full coaching staff.
“We want to make sure we get the right guys in there,” says Redford.
Improvements at Mt. Tabor since Redford played include turf in fair and foul territory in the infield.
“They’ve rarely have to cancel home games last two years,” says Redford.
The facility also features in-ground dugouts, bleachers that wrap around dugout to dugout and a large press box with a locker room underneath.
New Albany Little League gives a foundation of the high school program
“Little League baseball around here has always been big,” says Redmond. “It’s got all the bells and whistles and a good reputation.
“It’s super nice to have a community that supports baseball as much as this one. That’s for sure.”
Shortstop Tucker Biven (Class of 2022) was an IHSBCA North/South All-Series participant and has moved on to the University of Louisville.
Pitcher/shortstop Landon Tiesing (Class of 2023) has committed to Kent State University.
Tim Redford III met Colleen Bayer at William Woods and recently purchased a house together. Tim III is the son of Tim Redford II and Marsha Redford and younger brother of Kyle Krinninger.

Tim Redford III. (Reinhardt University Photo)

Tim Redford III. (William Woods University Photo)

New head coach Murray emphasizing athletic development for Mount Vernon Wildcats

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Dustin Murray was hired this summer as the new head baseball coach at Mt. Vernon (Ind.) High School.
His focus for the Wildcats this fall and winter is adding muscle and being in-shape.
“The biggest thing that I’m going to bring is off-season expectations in the weight room,” says Murray, who is a certified strength and conditioning coach and a first-year Physical Education and Health teacher at Mt. Vernon Junior High School. “This is the part of the year where we’re going to get stronger.
“We want to have accountability when it comes to athletic development.”
Lifting at 6:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays have been drawing 25 athletes per session.
“What we’re doing is baseball-specific,” says Murray. “But it’s helpful for all sports.”
Murray has been facility director for 13 years at Athletic Republic Evansville, a sports performance training center.
A few years ago, Murray did some volunteer work for Mt. Vernon head coach Paul Quinzer and takes over after Quinzer retired following the 2022 season after leading the program since 2002.
Mt. Vernon (enrollment around 625) is a member of the Pocket Athletic Conference (with Boonville, Forest Park, Gibson Southern, Heritage Hills, North Posey, Pike Central, Princeton, Southridge, South Spencer, Tecumseh, Tell City and Washington).
The Wildcats were part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping in 2022 with Boonville, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Memorial and Heritage Hills. Mt. Vernon has won 17 sectional titles — the last in 2015.
Murray’s coaching staff includes Luke Harris and Derek Foncannon. Another assistant may be added.
A exciting addition at Mt. Vernon is an indoor training facility near the football field. There will be batting cages that will benefit both baseball and softball.
Construction on the building began a few weeks ago and could be available in late spring or early summer of 2023.
Murray says there has also been discussion of adding a turf infield on the Athletic Park diamond.
Mt. Vernon Cub Baseball offers playing time for eight graders and seventh graders in the spring.
Murray was an assistant to Steve Ricketts at Evansville Mater Dei in 2019 and 2020.
In 2018, he coached for Norris City-Omaha-Enfield in Illinois. He lives in Carmi, Ill., with wife Brittany, daughter Taytem (7) and son Jagger (1).
Prior to his Norris City-Omaha-Enfield stint, he was involved strength and conditioning at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville from 2010-18 after coaching baseball 2006-10. He landed with the Screaming Eagles when following Tracy Archuleta.
A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Murray graduated from Bishop James Mahoney High School in 2000. He attended Prairie Baseball Academy while going to Lethbridge Community College. After two years, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside where Archeluta was the coach. An “international” rule allowed him to play five years of college baseball, including three at UWP. He also helped coach the Rangers after his playing days.
“I’ve never seen him have an ‘off’ day,” says Murray of Archuleta, who has won three NCAA Division II national titles at USI and is leading the Screaming Eagles into NCAA Division I status. “Every time he stepped on the field in was with intent.
“He is always looking to better his program. He’s always high energy and ready to go in everything he does.”
As the part of honored teams, Murray is in athletic halls of fame at both the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (2016) and the University of Southern Indiana (2020).

Dustin Murray.
The Murrays (left from): Jagger, Brittany, Jagger and Dustin.

Alum Frank moves up to head coach at Evansville Central

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Robbie Frank was a sophomore starter on Evansville (Ind.) Central High School’s IHSAA state runner-up baseball team in 1987.
The 29-win Bears lost 4-1 to LaPorte in the championship game. The Slicers went to be named mythical national champions in that season.
Frank started at shortstop for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Paul Griese as a junior and senior at Central and played one season as a utility player at Saint Louis University for Billikens head coach Bob Hughes.
The Central Bears were ranked No. 1 during the 1988 season. Central lost to Memorial in the sectional championship in both 1988 and 1989 — 3-0 and 8-2. The Tigers lost in the first round of the semistate in 1988 and won the state crown in 1989.
Energy and passion are two things Frank saw Griese bring to the diamond.
“It was a great experience to play under him,” says Frank. “We were a very talent team 1987-89. It was a good time to be at Central.”
In the summer of 1989, Frank played American Legion baseball for Evansville Funkhouser Post 8. Henry “Mac” LaRue was the manager and son Mark LaRue the head coach.
Later on, Frank coached Highland Little League teams in Evansville, including a state runner-up squad when his players were 12 and state champion unit when they were 13. Bryce Frank, Robbie’s son, was on those teams.
Robbie Frank has served as manager for Evansville Pate American Legion Post 265, guiding a junior squad to the state championship in 2021 and leading a senior team in 2022. He plans to do the same again in 2023, scheduling 30 to 35 games against the best competition he can find.
Frank also spent the past 10 years as an Evansville Central assistant. After head coach Mike Goedde retired at the end of a 12-year run in 2022, Frank was elevated to head coach.
“He’s an old school coach,” says Frank of Goedde. “He’s big on playing the game the right way. He gives a lot of responsibility to the kids — not only in baseball but in life.”
Goedde expected his players to represent themselves, their families and their schools in an appropriate way.
“You never know who’s watching or looking out,” says Frank.
When Frank was hired as Central head coach he had one-on-one meetings with returning sophomores, juniors and seniors to discuss expectations.
He plans to have IHSAA Limited Contact Period practices — twice a week for two hours — working around basketball which is also having LCP workouts.
Among the recent Central graduates to move on to college baseball are the Class of 2022’s Aiden Esarey (Goshen College), Gavin Kelley (Grace College), Ben Kennedy (Taylor University), Ethan Lyke (Murray State University), Ethan Rothschild (University of Southern Indiana) and Kaiden Turner (Grace College), 2021’s Henry Brown (Indiana State University), Garrett Causey (University of Southern Indiana) and Mason Simon (Oakland City University), 2019’s Cory Bosecker (Butler University) and Kody Putnam (Southeastern Illinois College and transferred to Jacksonville State University), 2018’s Sean Becker (Indiana University-Kokomo and transferred to Kentucky Wesleyan College) and Mason White (Indiana University Southeast) and 2017’s Evan Kahre (University of Southern Indiana).
Evansville Central (enrollment around 1,075) is a member of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Castle, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville Memorial, Evansville North, Evansville Reitz, Jasper and Vincennes Lincoln).
The Bears were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Castle, Evansville Harrison, Evansville North, Evansville Reitz and Jasper.
“It’s a dogfight every year,” says Frank.
Central has won nine sectional titles — the last in 2017.
The process of hiring Frank’s assistant coaches is in progress.
The Bears play home games at Paul Griese Field. Goedde had Bermuda grass added to the infield a few years ago.
Each spring, Cub Baseball in Evansville has eighth graders (and some seventh graders) competing on behalf of the high schools they are feeding.
Robbie Frank, who is president of Frank Insurance Services Inc. (owned by father Gene Frank), has three children — Faith, Ellie and Bryce. Faith Frank (20) is a former Evansville Central basketball and track athlete now studying at Ivy Tech in Evansville. Ellie Frank (19) was a two-time first-team all-state lacrosse player for the Bears and is now a Murray (Ky.) State University freshman. Bryce Frank (17) is a junior baseball player at Evansville Central.

Robbie Frank.

Neal drawn to competitive community surrounding Carmel Greyhounds

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Ty Neal is the new head baseball coach at Carmel (Ind.) High School.
While transitioning his wife and three children from southwestern Ohio to central Indiana, Neal embraces the expectations that come with leading the Greyhounds and performing in a community that demands excellence.
“This is the only high school job in the country I would have moved my family for,” says Neal, a former Indiana University assistant and University of Cincinnati head coach who is married to Christine and has sons Silas (14) and Beckett (12) and daughter Paisley (9). “I owe it to myself and my family to surround us with high-level people.
“I’m excited because it’s going to bring out the best in all of us.”
Both Neal boys were born in Bloomington.
“I’ve built so many relationships in Indiana,” says Ty Neal. “This is a great opportunity for my family to get back to the great state of Indiana.”
The competitive environment and lofty standards at his new school district suit Neal.
“The reason people are so critical of Carmel they expect so much out of everyone,” says Neal, who was hired in July. “As a coach that’s all positive.
“I want be held under a microscope and perform at a high level every single day of my life.”
After serving as the Director of Pitching at Pro X Athlete Development in Westfield, Ind., November 2018 to October 2019, Neal led the baseball program at Loveland High School (enrollment around 525) in the Greater Cincinnati area in 2020 and 2021. The Tigers did not play any games in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carmel (enrollment around 5,225) is currently an athletic independent.
The Greyhounds were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville, Westfield and Zionsville. Those schools have combined for nine State Finals appearances — two each for Carmel (1997, 2000), Fishers (2018, 2021) and Westfield (1998, 2009) and one apiece for Hamilton Southeastern (2019), Noblesville (2014) and Zionsville (2016) with state titles in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
Carmel has earned 13 sectional championships — the last in 2016.
Neal intends to bring consistency as he builds the culture of his Greyhounds program.
“That starts at the top,” says Neal. “These are 14- to 18-year-old young men that have so many moving parts in their lives.
“I want to be consistent in my demeanor, expectations and standards for them. We show up everyday and there’s no surprises. We’re not going to get in mid-season and change the way we do things. We’re not going to panic.
“There’s a comfort level that comes with consistency where — hopefully — you can bring out the best in everyone.”
Neal, who has targeted potential assistant coaches, conducted a recent player-parent meeting to shake everyone’s hand and is planning to start IHSAA Limited Contact Period workouts on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Sept. 13.
Carmel plays its home games on Hartman Field.
“I think it’s awesome,” says Neal. “It’s a brand new turf field with lights that I can turn on and off with an app on my phone.”
To serve a community that features the Carmel Dads Club, Carmel Pups travel baseball and teams at Carmel Clay Schools’ three middle schools — Carmel, Clay and Creekside — Neal plans a five-week middle school camp.
“I want to build relationships with the middle school coaches,” says Neal. “We’ll have similar concepts so we’re not starting from scratch freshman year.”
The Greyhounds routinely send players on to college baseball. Three alums — Ryan Campbell, Conrad Gregor and Tommy Sommer — are current or recent pros.
Born in West Elkton, Ohio (Dayton area), former left-handed pitcher Neal is a 1995 graduate of Preble Shawnee Junior/Senior High School in Camden, Ohio.
He earned four letters at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) 1996-99 and was team captain in 1999 and secured a Sport Management degree. Tracy Smith was his head coach.
Neal served as Smith’s pitching coach at Miami in 2000 and 2005 and was an assistant to Dan Callahan for three seasons (2001-03) at Southern Illinois University while getting a Masters of Sport and Fitness Administration/Management. He was pitching coach for the Cape Cod Baseball League‘s Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the summer of 2002.
There was one season as an assistant at Cincinnati (2004) and four as head coach (2014-17).
When Smith became head coach at Indiana, he brought Neal along and he was top assistant and recruiting coordinator for eight seasons (2006-13). He was also pitching coach for six of those campaigns and infield/third base coach for two. The Hoosiers went to the College World Series in 2013.
“He gave me an opportunity to help the team,” says Neal of the coach-player relationship with Smith (who is now head coach at the University of Michigan). “I had to grow up a lot under him.
“I learned from him to be agile and open to new things and learning. You change things when you need to.”
Neal was Smith’s Quality Control Analyst at Arizona State University in 2018.
While in Ohio, he created Serving Baseball Passion as a platform to share his knowledge with younger players.
In addition to coaching, Neal teaches Special Education at Carmel High School.

Beckett (left), Ty and Silas Neal.

Silas (left), Paisley, Christine and Beckett Neal.

Cunningham now in charge of Wheeler Bearcats

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Sean Cunningham is now in charge of the baseball program at Wheeler High School in Valparaiso, Ind., after two seasons as an assistant coach.
Cunningham held a call-out meeting with the Bearcats Thursday, Sept. 1. About 20 attended with several more involved in fall sports.
It is hoped that Wheeler will field varsity and junior varsity teams in 2023.
“We have a lot of incoming freshmen,” says Cunningham. “It will depend on numbers in the spring.”
Two points of emphasis for Cunningham as he gets Wheeler ready are off-season conditioning and pitching.
“With our weight lifting and running, players got a little lackadaisical last year,” says Cunningham. “They were not pushing themselves very hard. In hotter games last year the guys dragged a little bit.
“Pitching was a weak point for us last year. We have a lot of talent on the mound. I don’t think its been utilized yet.”
To help with that, Cunningham has brought Paul Lipski in as pitching coach.
Lipski and Cunningham served together on head coach Cory Mack’s staff at Morgan Township in 2017. The Cherokees registered several earned run averages below 3.00 and went 15-12 in 2017 and 20-6 in 2018, winning an IHSAA Class 2A sectional title in the latter season.
Lipski, Mack and Wheeler graduate Alex Hutman (Class of 2021) make up Cunningham’s Bearcats staff.
Cunningham coached three seasons with Jeff Rochowiak at Michigan City (2018-20).
Jeff Enright (now athletic director at Wheeler) was head baseball coach with Cunningham as an assistant.
“I liked his whole off-field philosophy and mindset,” says Cunningham of Enright’s approach. “We work as a team. I plan to continue that same exact kind of field in the locker room and in the dugout.”
Wheeler alum Rex Stills (Class of 2021) pitched in 17 games as a Purdue Fort Wayne in 2022.
Mason Leckrone (Class of 2023) is currently weighing his college options.
An IHSAA Limited Contact Period began Aug. 29 and goes through Oct. 15.
Wheeler (enrollment around 440) is a member of the Greater South Shore Conference (with Calumet New Tech, Griffith, Hammond Bishop Noll, Hanover Central, Illiana Christian, Lake Station Edison, River Forest, and Whiting). There are 12 GSSC games with some teams meeting twice and other once.
The Bearcats were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bowman Leadership Academy, Hammond Bishop Noll, Illiana Christian, Lake Station Edison and Whiting. Wheeler, which calls Richard Wendt Field home, has won six sectional titles — the last in 2021.
Cunningham was born in Oak Lawn, Ill., and moved to Valparaiso at 5. He played baseball for four years at Valparaiso High School — two for Todd Coffin then two for Mickey Morandini.
“Todd Coffin was a small-ball coach,” says Cunningham. “We learned how to play small ball the right way.
“(Mickey Morandini) was a good person.”
Cunningham graduated from Purdue North Central in 2014 and began teaching elementary school in Michigan City. He is now a sixth grade math teacher at Union Township Middle School.
He has also been an instructor at Triple Crown Baseball and Softball Training Center in Valparaiso though he has not worked in a few months.
Sean and wife Kristen Eleftheri-Cunningham had their first child — Oliver Eleftheri-Cunningham — in June.

Sean Cunningham and son Oliver Eleftheri-Cunningham.

Rookie teacher/coach Hunt tabbed to lead Whiting baseball

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Jacob Hunt was born and raised in Whiting, Ind.
The 24-year-old is now a first-year baseball coach and teacher at Whiting Junior/Senior High School.
“I wasn’t to give back to the community and keep the baseball tradition going,” says Hunt.
He was approved as head coach of the Oilers program the second week of the 2022-23 school year.
Hunt, a 2016 graduate of George Rogers Clark Junior/Senior High School in Whiting who teaches Physical Education and Health at WJSHS, has met a few players. Most are on the Oiler football team. He expects to see the rest in the winter.
Multi-sport athletes are the norm at Whiting (enrollment around 450), which is a member of the Greater South Shore Conference (with Calumet New Tech, Griffith, Hammond Bishop Noll, Hanover Central, Illiana Christian, Lake Station Edison, River Forest and Wheeler).
The Oilers were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bowman Leadership Academy, Hammond Bishop Noll, Illiana Christian, Lake Station Edison and Wheeler. Whiting has won four sectional titles — the last in 2019.
Hunt wants to instill a “winning culture” for Whiting baseball.
“I want to get as many kids into college as a I can and make sure everyone is a hard worker,” says Hunt. “We want no laziness and for them to get good grades.”
Hunt says he plans to put an emphasis on conditioning with plenty of running, agility work and weightlifting.
Good friend Amir Wright, who played at Ball State University in the spring and with the Frederick (Md.) Keys of the MLB Draft League this summer, has offered to help Hunt with strength and conditioning training.
Playing in a big ballpark like Oil City Stadium, Hunt wants players to be able to turn balls into the gap into triples and for outfielders to track down those balls hit by the opposition.
Speed and cunning on the base paths can also help fuel the offense.
“If we can lead the state of Indiana in steals we’ll do it,” says Hunt. “As hitters, we want to stay inside the ball. The body is all connected together.”
And another thing.
“We want to have fun,” says Hunt. “Enjoy yourself while you’re out here.”
Hunt has asked best friend Zach Bucsko and father Jamie Hunt to be his assistant coaches. Bucsko is a 2016 Clark graduate who pitched at Glen Oaks Community College (Centerville, Mich.).
Jacob’s mother is Christine Mickles. He has two older brothers — 37-year-old twins Buddy and Jesse Hunt.
Lakeshore Cal Ripken Babe Ruth Baseball/Softball League in Hammond is where Hunt played his first ball.
He played four years at Clark, first seeing some time on varsity as a sophomore. Jason Ochall was the Pioneers head coach.
Ochall’s message: “Be yourself.”
“I remember how he cared for all of us,” says Hunt. “He trusted all of us older guys.”
Hunt also played travel baseball for the Northwest Indiana Pirates in 2016 and Chicago-based Satchel Paige in 2017.
He was on the Brian Nowakowski-coached baseball team at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting through 2021. In the summer of 2019, he played for the Midwest Collegiate League’s Crestwood Panthers.
To explore his options, Hunt did a teaching internship through the University of Evansville in 2021-22.
“I wanted to get out of the area and get out of my comfort zone,” says Hunt. “I was willing to go anywhere to coach and teach in the state of Indiana.”
He wound up back home at Whiting.

Jacob Hunt (Calumet College of St. Joseph Photo)

New Columbus North head coach Bodart putting program first

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Mike Bodart conducted a call-out meeting Wednesday, Aug. 31, after being named head baseball coach at his alma mater — Columbus (Ind.) North High School.
There were 37 players in attendance and a few more indicated that they could not be there.
There could be about 40 players to fill out varsity and junior varsity rosters in 2023.
Bodart, a 1993 North graduate who has been a Bull Dogs assistant in two different stints (1998-2000 with head coach Val Nolan and 2014-21 with head coach Ben McDaniel), talked about putting teammates first and lifelong loyalty to Columbus North baseball.
“It’s not about us; It’s about the program,” says Bodart. “We don’t want any individuals putting themselves first.
“It’s about building.”
Bodart has had a number of former players reach out to him this week.
“I’m going to work on getting the alumni re-energized,” says Bodart. “We want to honor them a little bit.”
Ways this can be done is to recognize teams that advanced in the state tournament or prominent alums.
“We want to show the kids how loyalty to the program looks,” says Bodart.
The coach also told Wednesday’s gathering about perseverance.
As a player, he did not make the varsity until he was a senior and convinced head coach Joe Preda to keep him.
“I was not necessarily the most-talented,” says Bodart. “But I gritty, smart and worked hard. I tried to put myself in places to be successful.
“(Current players) are going to get a fair chance from me because I understand. Be ready when your chance comes.”
Columbus North (enrollment around 2,300) is a member of Conference Indiana (with Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Southport, Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo).
The Bull Dogs were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Columbus East, East Central and Shelbyville. Columbus North has won 14 sectional titles — the last in 2021.
Bodart says there has been talk at North of adding lights and turf to the infield at the school’s on-campus field.
“We’ve never had lights in Columbus at either high school,” says Bodart. “If we end a conference game in a tie for darkness the visiting team has to come back.”
CERA Sports Park & Campground in Columbus is home to a youth baseball league.
Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus will field it first baseball team in 2022-23.
Bodart played two seasons at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany for Rick Parr and later graduated from IU-Bloomington and then joined Nolan’s staff.
“Part of his goal was to get me ready to be a varsity coach,” says Bodart. “Val is still a really good friend to this day.”
Bodart helped Gene Wise at Columbus East during the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
McDaniel, who retired after the 2021 season, did things that impressed Bodart.
“He did a wonderful job of challenging the guys mentally and making sure they were prepared,” says Bodart. “His attention to detail was ridiculously amazing. He was meticulous during the game. It forced me to be a better coach.”
Bodart says McDaniel had a way of addressing mistakes and positives.
“We have to learn from what we did,” says Bodart. “It forced me to start working on that.”
Bodart has also coached with the Diesel Baseball Club — a Bartholomew County-based travel organization — the past three years and plans to continue.
Mike and wife Amanda have two children — North sophomore Lizzie (15) and South Side Elementary fifth grader and Diesel ballplayer Michael (11).
Bodart bought Hoosier Sporting Goods in Columbus in 2003. The business has been in town for generations.
“It keeps me involved in sports,” says Bodart. “I keep up on the trends the kids like.”
He foresees letting current seniors — who missed their freshman season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and have three head coaches in McDaniel, Patrick Antone (now head coach at Roncalli) and Bodart — will be allowed to design a set of uniforms to leave their mark on the program.
There have been no college commitments among current players. Bodart says Tyler Blythe and Luke Harmon are among those from the Class of 2023 who might choose to play at the next level.
Devin Mann (Class of 2015) is a North graduate who played at the University of Louisville and is now an infielder with the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Of late, some college players from North have been the Class of 2018’s Tyler Finke (Snead State Community College in Alabama and Southeastern Louisiana State University), 2019’s Parker Maddox (University of Southern Indiana) and Jakob Meyer (University of Evansville), 2020’s Casper Clark (John A. Logan College in Illinois), 2021’s Austin Bode (Louisville and Indiana University), Reese Harmon (Iowa Western Community College) and Kyler McIntosh (Alabama State University) and 2022’s Will Baker (Snead State), Dyllan Redmon (Franklin College in Indiana) and Zach Wager (University of Tennessee at Martin).

Mike Bodart. (Columbus North High School Photo)
Mike Bodart. (Columbus North High School Photo)

Mike Bodart (left) and former Columbus North head baseball coach Ben McDaniel. (Columbus North High School Photo)