Tag Archives: Adam Besser

Rutgers-bound Besser keeps on buzzing the ball past batters

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

Grant Besser’s habit of dodging bats with his pitches got him noticed during his prep days and it continues at the collegiate level.
At South Adams High School in Berne, Ind., the left-hander and four-time first-team all-Allen County Athletic Conference selection whiffed 451 in 241 innings with a 1.27 earned run average. He also hit .397 with eight home runs and 58 runs batted in.
As a senior, Besser fanned 130 in 54 frame and posted a 0.77 ERA and hit .426 with two homers and 17 RBIs for the Brad Buckingham-coached Starfires. He began working out that winter in Fort Wayne with Pittsburgh Pirates strength trainer Dru Scott.
When not pitching, lefty Besser was the unorthodox choice for South Adams at shortstop his last three seasons.
“I knew it looked silly, but I had been playing shortstop all my life,” says Besser. “I can throw from any arm angle. I had a great time doing it.
“Besides I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it for long. I knew pitching is what I wanted to do.”
Besser played in the 2019 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series in Madison. He was honored as the 2019 Northeast Indiana Baseball Association/Dick Crumback Player of the Year.
The 2021 recipient of the award — Carter Mathison (Homestead/Indiana University) is Besser’s teammate this summer with New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Keene (N.H.) Swamp Bats. Mathison was also the 2021 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Besser shined on the mound at Florida SouthWestern State College in Fort Myers.
In 36 appearances (10 starts), he went 6-4 with eight saves and a 2.66 earned run average as the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Buccaneers posted marks of 16-11 in 2020 (COVID-19 shortened), 44-16 in 2021 and 42-15 in 2022. He amassed 125 strikeouts and 42 walks in 94 2/3 innings.
Besser played no summer ball in 2020 and dealt with an injury at the beginning of the 2021. He came back and hurled five innings in the state tournament and did not allow a baserunner.
“I really saw a spike in all of my numbers for the good (in 2022),” says Besser. “I blew every category away from the previous years.”
He was in 20 games in 2022 and went 3-2 with six saves, a 1.28 ERA, 61 K’s and 16 walks in 42 1/3 innings.
Ben Bizier is head coach at Florida SouthWestern State. Derrick Conatser is Bucs pitching coach.
“I like that toughness to he brings to the table,” says Besser of Bizier.
In his exit interview with Bizier Besser was told that 18 Major League Baseball organizations have been following him as they prepare for the 2022 First-Year Player Draft (July 17-19 in Los Angeles).
“He said there’s a really good chance it happens this year,” says Besser, who turns 22 in September. “Out of high school I had zero (college) offers. Coach Buckingham offered me to Florida JUCO’s. I earned a scholarship at FSW in the spring.
“Money has never been the big thing for me. It’s opportunity and getting my foot in the door.”
This is Besser’s second straight summer at Keene and he has had several meaningful chats with Swamp Bats president and general manager Kevin Watterson.
So far, Besser has made four appearances (one start) and is 1-0 with an 0.87 ERA. In 10 1/3 innings, the southpaw has 10 strikeouts and one walk. The NECBL regular season ends July 30.
Throughout his college experience, Besser has been used in multiple pitching roles, including starter, long reliever and a closer.
“It doesn’t matter to me as long as we get a win,” says Besser. “I’m very versatile.”
Besser has excelled with an ability to keep his head when things get tense.
“It’s mental toughness. I preach it,” says Besser. “I can spot when somebody doesn’t have that mental toughness.
“I’m ready for the situation. I’m consistent with all that I do. I work quick and throw strikes. Preparation and a steady mindset is key.”
Throwing from a three-quarter arm slot, Besser uses a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, change-up and curveball.
“My four-seamer has natural run and a high spin rate,” says Besser. “Up in the zone is where I get the most out of it.
“This summer it’s been sitting 89 to 91 mph (it hit 92 at Florida SouthWestern State).”
Besser’s two-seamer moves in to left-handed hitters and away from righties.
His “circle” change-up break to his arm side and is usually clocked around 83 mph.
“My curveball is more of a slurve,” says Besser of the pitch that’s often delivered at around 78 mph. “I mix and match. Sometimes it’s 12-to-6 and sometimes I sweep it. It depends on the situation.”
Grant is the oldest of Mike and Katina Besser’s two sons. Adam Besser, a right-handed pitcher for Ivy Tech Northeast in Fort Wayne, turns 20 in August.
Mike Besser is a salesman for Moser Motor Sales. Katina Besser is chief financial officer at Swiss Village Retirement Community.
The family moved from Geneva and Berne when Grant was in the fifth grade. Beginning at 9U, he played travel ball for the Muncie Longhorns and Indiana Bandits and then Summit City Sluggers founder Mark DeLaGarza reached out to him and he spent two summers with the 17U Sluggers, playing for head coaches Todd Armstrong and Brent Alwine.
“My parents’ sacrifices let me do that,” says Grant. “The Sluggers gave me a lot of knowledge on baseball.”

With two years of eligibility remaining, has committed to NCAA Division I Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. He signed with the Scarlet Knights over the winter.
Why Rutgers?
“What really attracting me was coming home to the Big Ten,” says Besser, who was born in Fort Wayne and grew up in Geneva and Berne. “It’s up-and-coming program and pretty hard-nosed.”
With Steve Owens as head coach and Brendan Monaghan guiding pitchers, the Scarlet Knights posted an overall mark of 44-17 and Big Ten record of 17-7 in 2022. Rutgers played Michigan in the conference tournament championship game.
After earning an Associate of Arts degree in Business Management at Florida SouthWestern State, Besser is considering a Labor and Relations major at Rutgers.

Grant Besser (Florida SouthWestern State College Photo)

Grant Besser (Florida SouthWestern State College Photo)
Grant Besser (Florida SouthWestern State College Photo)
Head coach Ben Bizier (left) and Grant Besser (Florida SouthWestern State College Photo)

City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla.
City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, Fla.
Grant Besser (Keene Swamp Bats Photo)

Indiana Wesleyan, Rose-Hulman, UIndy among state’s hottest teams

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

Indiana Wesleyan and Rose-Hulman have the longest current win streaks among the 38 college baseball programs in Indiana.
The NAIA Wildcats have won six straight as have the NCAA Division III Fightin’ Engineers.
IWU (12-4) and NCAA Division II Indianapolis (11-5) have the most victories in April.
Among the other leaders in April triumphs are NCAA Division I’s Evansville (9-2) and Notre Dame (8-3), NAIA’s Taylor (9-5) and Indiana University Southeast (8-2) and NCAA D-III’s Franklin (7-1), Rose-Hulman (7-3) and Earlham (7-3).
At 20-8, Taylor is tied atop Crossroads League standings with Mt. Vernon Nazarene, two games ahead of Indiana Wesleyan.
At 15-3, NAIA Indiana University Southeast is tied with Point Park for first place in the River States Conference, 1/2 game ahead of Indiana University Kokomo.
At 10-6, UIndy is two games behind Illinois-Springfield in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Blue Division.
Franklin (7-1) paces the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, one game ahead of both Rose-Hulman and Earlham.
Indiana State (6-2 in April) is 5-1 in leading the Missouri Valley Conference by one game over Southern Illinois, Dallas Baptist and Evansville.
Ball State (6-6 in April) is 15-3 in the Mid-American Conference, two games behind leader Central Michigan.
Pitching victory and batting average leaders among D-I teams include Jackson Smeltz (6) and Evan Albrecht (.407) of Purdue, John Michael Bertrand (5) and Carter Putz (.357) of Notre Dame, Tyler Schweitzer (5), Ty Johnson (5) and Amir Wright (.349) of Ball State, Matt Jachec (7) and Sean Ross (.421) of Indiana State, Shane Gray (5) and Mark Shallenberger (.389) of Evansville, Jon Vore (3), Derek Drees (3) and Aaron Steinhart (.299) of Butler, Colin Fields (4), Jake Miller (4) and Nolan Tucker (.359) of Valparaiso, Bradley Brehmer (3) and Phillip Glasser (.343) of Indiana and Jacob Myer (2), Mitchell Spencer (2), J.D. Deany (2), Brian Skelton (2) and Cade Fitzpatrick (.350) of Purdue Fort Wayne.
In NCAA D-II, there’s Xavier Rivas (5) and Brandon DeWitt (.368) of Indianapols, Brice Stuteville (4) and Lucas McNew (.341) of Southern Indiana and Joe Sullivan (3) and Ray Hilbrich (.429) of Purdue Northwest.
NCAA D-III leaders are Jackson Young (5) and Logan Demkovich (.398) of Franklin, Aidan Talarek (5) and Cameron McCabe (.408) of Earlham, Ian Kline (5) and Kade Kline (.380) of Rose-Hulman, Tavic Simmons (4) and A.J. Reid (.394) of Wabash, Evan Doan (3), Landen Southern (3) and Tyler Smitherman (.413) of Anderson, Matthew Alter (3) and Charlie Burton (.355) of Hanover, Michael Vallone (6) and Allen Cameron (.398) of DePauw, Robert Kortas (2), Cam Nagel (2) and Adam Stefanelli (.375) of Trine and Carter Hooks (2) and Brett Wathen (2) and Zach White (.356) of Manchester.
In NAIA, there’s Luke Shively (9) and Kaleb Kolpein (.410) of Taylor, Hunter Kloke (7) and Trevor Campbell (.408) of IU Southeast, Brennan Morehead (4) and Denver Blinn (.421) of Indiana Wesleyan, Owen Callaghan (6) and Patrick Mills (.365) of IU Kokomo, Cory Wolter (6) and Alec Brunson (.354) of Saint Francis, Owen Spears (4) and Noah Baugher (.364) of Oakland City, Hayes Sturtsman (4), Jared Maxfield (4) and Ashtin Moxey (.311) of Indiana Tech, Damien Wallace (4) and Matteo Porcellato (.365) of Marian, Noah Arbuckle (3), Joey Butz (3), Isaac Horton (3), Tyler Papenbrock (3) and Ian McCutcheon (.394) of Huntington, Frank Plesac (5) and Eli MacDonald (.411) of Bethel, Evan Etchison (3), Kameron Koch (3) and Alex Rich (.345) of Grace, Zack Dobos (3) and Brenden Bell (.386) of IU South Bend, Bubba Davenport (2) and Michael Machnic (.325) of Calumet of Saint Joseph and Camm Nickell (2) and Jenner Rodammer (.350) of Goshen.
Junior college leaders are Connor VanLannen (3) and Peyton Lane (.440) of Vincennes, Adam Besser (2), Matt Peters (2) and Jaden Parnin (.476) of Ivy Tech Northeast and Rylan Huntley (2 and .413) and Bryce Woodruff (2) of Marian’s Ancilla.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through April 17
NCAA D-I
Purdue 22-9 (4-6 Big Ten)
Notre Dame 21-8 (8-7 ACC)
Ball State 21-13 (15-3 MAC)
Indiana State 19-9 (5-1 MVC)
Evansville 19-16 (4-2 MVC)
Butler 16-20 (2-4 Big East)
Valparaiso 13-18 (2-4 MVC)
Indiana 13-21 (2-7 Big Ten)
Purdue Fort Wayne 10-23 (7-8 Horizon)

NCAA D-II
Indianapolis 18-18 (10-6 GLVC)
Southern Indiana 15-20 (4-8 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 13-12 (2-8 GLIAC)

NCAA D-III
Franklin 22-6 (7-1 HCAC)
Earlham 18-8 (7-3 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 16-7 (7-3 HCAC)
Wabash 14-11 (0-8 NCAC)
Anderson 13-12 (5-3 HCAC)
Hanover 12-14 (6-4 HCAC)
DePauw 10-14 (3-5 NCAC)
Trine 10-16 (5-6 MIAA)
Manchester 5-18 (2-6 HCAC)

NAIA
Taylor 30-14 (20-8 CL)
Indiana University Southeast 28-11 (15-3 RSC)
Indiana Wesleyan 25-18 (18-10 CL)
Indiana University-Kokomo 24-14 (14-3 RSC)
Saint Francis 24-19 (13-15 CL)
Oakland City 21-16 (6-10 RSC)
Indiana Tech 21-18 (9-7 WHAC)
Marian 20-20 (12-14 CL)
Huntington 19-17 (17-11 CL)
Bethel 19-25 (13-15 CL)
Grace 15-24 (9-17 CL)
Indiana University South Bend 11-24 (5-14 CCAC)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 9-26 (4-14 CCAC)
Goshen 9-31 (4-24 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 15-21 (6-10 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 13-11
Marian’s Ancilla 6-28 (4-10 MCCAA)

Week of April 11-17
NCAA D-I
Tuesday, April 12
Evansville 11, Butler 1
Indiana 6, Indiana State 5
Notre Dame 14, Michigan 5
Eastern Illinois 7, Valparaiso 5

Thursday, April 14
Georgetown 14, Butler 8
Duke 15, Notre Dame 5
Penn State 12, Purdue 7
Purdue Fort Wayne 9, Northern Kentucky 5

Friday, April 15
Ball State 8, Akron 3
Butler 8, Georgetown 7
Evansville 6, Southern Illinois 4
Rutgers 5, Indiana 3
Duke 4, Notre Dame 3 (11 inn.)
Purdue 11, Penn State 5
Northern Kentucky 5, Purdue Fort Wayne 4
Illinois State 7, Valparaiso 0

Saturday, April 16
Ball State 5, Akron 1
Ball State 16, Akron 0
Georgetown 8, Butler 4
Evansville 9, Southern Illinois 2
Evansville 14, Southern Illinois 2
Rutgers 4, Indiana 2
Duke 6, Notre Dame 2
Penn State 7, Purdue 5
Purdue Fort Wayne 10, Northern Kentucky 5
Valparaiso 10, Illinois State 2

Sunday, April 17
Akron 4, Ball State 3
Rutgers 10, Indiana 9
Valparaiso 2, Illinois State 1

NCAA D-II
Tuesday, April 12
Indianapolis 15, Kentucky Wesleyan 1
Indianapolis 11, Kentucky Wesleyan 7
Grand Valley State 10, Purdue Northwest 7
Grand Valley State 9, Purdue Northwest 6
Oakland City 6, Southern Indiana 4

Thursday, April 14
Quincy 14, Indianapolis 4
Purdue Northwest 21, Northwood 19
Truman State vs. Southern Indiana

Friday, April 15
Indianapolis 3, Quincy 2
Indianapolis 3, Quincy 0
Purdue Northwest 2, Northwood 0
Northwood 18, Purdue Northwest 0
Truman State 6, Southern Indiana 5
Truman State 11, Southern Indiana 10

Saturday, April 16
Indianapolis 5, Quincy 3
Northwood 9, Purdue Northwest 7
Southern Indiana 16, Truman State 4

NCAA D-III
Monday, April 11
Trine 7, Kalamazoo 5

Tuesday, April 12
Earlham 12, Transylvania 7
Transylvania vs. Earlham
Hanover 12, Spalding 11
Wabash 6, Manchester 4
Manchester vs. Wabash
Rose-Hulman 3, Mount St. Joseph 2
Rose-Hulman 16, Mount St. Joseph 1

Wednesday, April 13
Trine 11, Adrian 5

Thursday, April 14
Wittenberg 10, Wabash 4

Friday, April 15
Bluffton 11, Earlham 6
Bluffton 9, Earlham 3
Alma 8, Trine 5

Saturday, April 16
Hanover 10, Anderson 4
Hanover 10, Anderson 8
Kenyon 12, DePauw 1
Kenyon 4, DePauw 3
Franklin 9, Manchester 8
Franklin 6, Manchester 4
Rose-Hulman 10, Transylvania 4
Rose-Hulman 12, Transylvania 8
Alma 9, Trine 6
Alma 10, Trine 6
Wooster 4, Wabash 3
Wooster 12, Wabash 7

NAIA
Monday, April 11
Bethel 13, Goshen 10
Bethel 12, Goshen 1
Calumet of St. Joseph 13, Trinity Christian 8
Indiana Tech 1, Rochester 0
Indiana Tech 12, Rochester 5
Spring Arbor 15, Taylor 7
Taylor 10, Spring Arbor 9

Tuesday, April 12
Goshen 17, Grace Christian 5
Goshen 3, Grace Christian 1
Marian 5, Huntington 2
Marian 19, Huntington 5
Oakland City 6, Southern Indiana 4
IU South Bend 18, Trinity Christian 8
IU Southeast 7, Georgetown (Ky.) 5
Madonna 7, Indiana Tech 6
Indiana Tech 16, Madonna 6
Indiana Wesleyan 10, Cleary 7
Indiana Wesleyan 8, Cleary 0
Mount Vernon Nazarene 10, Saint Francis 6
Saint Francis 9, Mount Vernon Nazarene 2

Thursday, April 14
Saint Xaver 17, IU South Bend 13

Friday, April 15
Bethel 2, Huntington 1
Huntington 9, Bethel 7
Olivet Nazarene 15, Calumet of St. Joseph 2
Indiana Wesleyan 14, Goshen 2
Indiana Wesleyan 13, Goshen 6
Saint Francis 5, Grace 3
Saint Francis 2, Grace 1
IU Kokomo 9, Brescia 1
IU Southeast 11, West Virginia Tech 0
Spring Arbor 8, Marian 5
Marian 16, Spring Arbor 3
Taylor 9, Mount Vernon Nazarene 5
Taylor 17, Mount Vernon Nazarene 9

Saturday, April 16
Bethel 3, Huntington 1
Huntington 9, Bethel 2
Olivet Nazarene 12, Calumet of St. Joseph 4
Olivet Nazarene 14, Calumet of St. Joseph 3
Indiana Wesleyan 12, Goshen 2
Indiana Wesleyan 15, Goshen 6
Grace 10, Saint Francis 8
Saint Francis 14, Grace 4
IU Kokomo 7, Brescia 3
IU Kokomo 13, Brescia 2
IU Southeast 11, West Virginia Tech 1
IU Southeast 9, West Virginia Tech 6
Lawrence Tech 2, Indiana Tech 1
Lawrence Tech 7, Indiana Tech 4
Marian 7, Spring Arbor 5
Marian 11, Spring Arbor 3
Mount Vernon Nazarene 6, Taylor 4
Mount Vernon Nazarene 14, Taylor 1

Junior College
Monday, April 11
Ivy Tech Northeast 6, Trine JV 5
Ivy Tech Northeast 8, Trine JV 5

Tuesday, April 12
Kellogg 6, Ivy Tech Northeast 3
Kaskaskia 13, Vincennes 6

Friday, April 15
Lake Michigan 7, Marian’s Ancilla 2
Lake Michigan 9, Marian’s Ancilla 1
Heartland 11, Vincennes 2
Heartland 13, Vincennes 4

Saturday, April 16
Lake Michigan 13, Marian’s Ancilla 3
Lake Michigan 7, Marian’s Ancilla 3
Heartland 16, Vincennes 5
Heartland 12, Vincennes 2

IHSCBA names all-staters for 2021 season

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

Members of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association voted for all-state teams and the organization has released that list.
All-staters are honored in all four classes. As a selection in the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Southridge shortstop Colson Montgomery was automatically named all-state.

2021 IHSBCA ALL-STATE TEAM
Class 4A
Pitchers: Grant Stratton (Jasper), Nate Dohm (Zionsville).
C: Hunter Dobbins (Mount Vernon of Fortville).
1B: Kaleb Kolpien (Homestead).
2B: Joel Walton (Mount Vernon of Fortville).
3B: Connor Foley (Jasper).
SS: Tucker Biven (New Albany).
OF: Carter Mathison (Homestead), Max Clark (Franklin), Tommy O’Connor (Mooresville).
Honorable Mention: Evan Waggoner (Bedford North Lawrence); Austin Bode (Columbus North); Jaden Deel (Hobart); Andrew Wallace (Jasper); Jackson Micheels (Carmel); Breenen Weigert (Homestead); Jack Braun (Fishers); Tyler Walkup (Lawrence North); Quentin Markle (Westfield); Joe Huffman (Avon); Nick Mitchell (Carmel); Brad White (Andrean); Blake Herrmann (Castle); Camden Jordan (Cathedral); Sam Gladd (Columbia City); Eli Hopf (Jasper); Brody Chrisman (Zionsville); J.D. Rogers (Carmel); Keaton Mahan (Westfield); Gage Standifer (Westfield); Kyler McIntosh (Columbus North); Chris Gallagher (Cathedral); Carter Doorn (Lake Central); Grant Comstock (Valparaiso); Tate Warner (Fishers); Carter Gilbert (Northridge).

Class 3A
Pitchers: Garrett Harker (Lebanon), Luke Hayden (Edgewood).
C: Keifer Wilson (Greencastle).
1B: Brycen Hannah (John Glenn).
2B: Gavin Morris (Northview).
3B: Dalton Wasson (Heritage), Camden Gasser (Southridge).
SS: Dominic Decker (Silver Creek).
OF: Jared Comia (Hanover Central), Evan Pearce (Oak Hill), Kade Townsend (Peru), Sergio Lira Ayala (NorthWood).
Honorable Mention: Jacob Loftus (Peru); Xavier Nolan (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger); Aidan Hardcastle (Oak Hill); Cameron Sater (Edgewood); Riley Western (Western); Brody Whitaker (Greencastle); Nick Sutherlin (Greencastle); Jack Moroknek (Brebeuf Jesuit); Landon Carr (Northview); Kameron Salazar (Wawasee); Damien Gudakunst (Leo); Connor Schmiedlin (Culver Academies); Jacob Pruitt (Yorktown); Zach Forner (Madison); Andrew Dutkanych (Brebeuf Jesuit); Mitchell Dean (Western); Holden Groher (Silver Creek); Bret Matthys (Hanover Central); Trey Reed (Washington); Coley Stevens (Leo); Peyton Olejnik (Hanover Central).

Class 2A
Pitchers: Owen Willard (Eastside), Brady Linkel (South Ripley).
C: Joel Kennedy (Monroe Central).
1B: Parker Allman (Lapel).
2B: Alex VanWinkle (Union County).
3B: Gavin Lash (Wapahani).
SS: Landen Southern (Clinton Prairie).
OF: C.J. Richmond (Park Tudor), Dane DuBois (Cascade), Andrew Wiggins (Heritage Christian).
Honorable Mention: Gavin Gleason (Delphi); Brayden Stowe (Perry Central); Aidan Roach (Cascade); Drew Murray (Boone Grove); Andrew Shepherd (Mitchell); Snyder Pennington (Eastern of Pekin); Eli Watson (Providence); Aidyn Coffey (Monroe Central); Darien Pugh (Cascade); Gavin Noble (Wapahani); Chase Long (Delphi); Caleb Henderson (Wapahani); Gabe Eslinger (Linton-Stockton); Adam Besser (South Adams); Dominic Anderson (Hagerstown); Josh Pyne (Linton-Stockton); Khal Stephen (Seeger); Bryce Deckman (Monroe Central); Wyatt Blinn (Cascade).

Class 1A
Pitchers: Garrett Stevens (Bethesda Christian), Luke Leverton (Seton Catholic).
C: Mo Lloyd (Southwood).
1B: Alex Farr (Southwood).
2B: Ethan Bock (Fremont).
3B: Ethan Wendling (Southwestern of Shelbyville).
SS: Brett Sherrard (Bloomfield).
OF: Nolan Harris (Clay City), Landon Cole (Rising Sun), Evan Price (Rossville).
Honorable Mention: Pierson Barnes (Riverton Parke); Nick Miller (Fremont); Nick Swartzentruber (Barr-Reeve); Riley Schebler (Oldenburg Academy); Kyle Swartzentruber (North Daviess); Jordan Jones (Southwestern of Shelbyville); Aaron Wagler (Barr-Reeve); Kameron Colclasure (Fremont); Joey Spin (Caston); Andrew Oesterling (Oldenburg Academy); Mason Yentes (Southwood); Jake Moynihan (Seton Catholic); Cayden Gothrup (Daleville); Samuel Gasper (Borden); Gavin Gentry (Borden).

Here’s Dick Crumback/NEIBA Player of the Year Watch List

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Baseball coaches from Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Noble, Huntington, Wells and Whitley counties were surveyed and 69 names appear on the 2021 Dick Crumback/Northeast Indiana Baseball Association (NEIBA) High School Player of the Year Watch List.

The list will be narrowed in early May to a group of award finalists. The winner will be announced May 26 to coincide with the start the IHSAA state tournament series. The winner will be honored at a Fort Wayne TinCaps game since the NEIBA banquet has been postponed until Sept. 12.

Since 1961, the NEIBA has recognized local baseball players, personnel and ambassadors through a Hall of Fame and honors program. South Adams’ Grant Besser was named Dick Crumback/NEIBA High School Player of the Year in 201. With the 2020 season being canceled because of the COVID-1 pandenic, there was no award given for 2020.

For more information, contact Gary Rogers at grogers@eacs.k.in.us or Brett Windmiller at brett.windmiller@nacs.k.in.us. 

DICK CRUMBACK/NEIBA 

HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR 

WATCH LIST

2021

Adams Central (Coach Dave Neuenschwander)

Sr. Justin Bultemeier

Sr. Chase Murray

Jr. Alex Currie

Jr. Blake Heyerly

Bellmont (Coach Tom Montgomery)

Sr. Tanner Hirn

Sr.  Tyler James

Jr.  Kobe Baker

Jr.  Magnuss Lee

Jr. Ethan Garner

Jr. Trevor Walker

Bishop Dwenger (Coach Jason Garrett)

Sr.  Brenden Lytle

Sr. Sam Pesa

Sr.  Callan Stauffer

Sr.  Xavier Nolan

Jr. Jack Tippmann

Fr.  Brayton Thomas

Jr. Beau Jacquay

Bishop Luers (Coach Jeff Stanski)

Sr.  Lukas North

Carroll (Coach Dave Ginder)

Sr.  Jerod Handshoe

Sr.  Cameron Niedens

Jr.  Alex Smith

Sr.  Conner Miller

Sr.  Josh Kuhns

Sr. Jaycob McCullough

Churubusco (Coach Jordan Turner)

Sr.  Brayten Gordon

Sr.  Evan Snyder

Jr.  Keenan Hendricks

Jr.  Callahan Ostrowski

Sr.  Seth Abel

Columbia City (Coach Rob Bell)

Jr.  Sam Gladd

Jr.  Adin Miller

Sr.  Preston Henschen

DeKalb (Coach Tim Murdock)

Sr.  Steele Jackson

East Noble (Coach Aaron Desmonds)

Jr.  Brayden Risedorph

Eastside (Coach Aaron Willard)

Jr.  Owen Willard

Sr.  Dylan Herig

Sr.  Wade Miller

Jr.  Jack Buchanan

Garrett (Coach Jason Richards)

Sr.  Gage Smith

Jr.  Trey Richards

Jr.  Graham Kelham

Heritage (Coach Dean Lehrman)

Jr.  Dalton Wasson

Homestead (Coach Nick Byall)

Sr.  Carter Mathison

Sr.  Luke Palmer

Sr.  Kaleb Kolpien

Sr.  Graham Kollen

Sr. Grant Simmons

Sr. Cole Elkins

Sr. Jayden Lepper

Leo (Coach Gary Rogers)

Sr.  Tyler Papenbrock

Sr.  Coley Stevens

Sr.  Damien Gudakunst

Sr.  Quinten Peters

Sr.  Gannon Brown

Sr. Michael O’Brien

Sr. Dakota Patterson

New Haven (Coach Dave Bischoff)

Sr. Jacob Kortenber

Sr. Augie Difederico

Northrop (Coach Matt Brumbaugh)

Sr.  Tarron White

Jr.  Luke Siren

Norwell (Coach Dave Goodmiller)

Sr. Rocco Hanes

Sr. Eli Riley

South Adams (Coach Brad Buckingham)

Sr. Adam Besser

Sr. James Arnold

Jr. A.J. Dull

Jr. Conner Young

Southern Wells (Coach Blade Rheinhart)

Sr.  Tanner Johnson

Whitko (Coach Jorell Tucker)

Sr.  Bryce Tucker

Sr. Evan Wilson

Northeast Indiana Baseball Association

Organization, persistence help Buckingham, South Adams Starfires enjoy baseball success

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Brad Buckingham sweats the details.

It is not unusual for the 11th-year head baseball coach at South Adams High School in Berne, Ind., to spend an hour crafting his practice plan.

Buckingham, a 1998 South Adams graduate, played for and later coached one season under former Starfires head coach and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dean Stahly.

Looking back, Buckingham sees how Stahly, who led South Adams from 1971-2008, had a knack for organization.

“It may sound crazy, but I want to make sure each of those players are on the move so they’re not bored and get the instruction they need so they can grow as a player,” says Buckingham. “With limited resources and limited coaches, you’ve got to be creative in that regard.”

South Adams had 33 players for varsity and junior varsity schedules this spring.

At Bluffton College (now Bluffton University) in Ohio, Buckingham played four years for Greg Brooks and gained an appreciation for persistence.

“In baseball, a lot of bad things happen and a lot of good things happen and you still keep going,” says Buckingham, who also was head coach at Frankton High School for five seasons in Madison County, Ind. The Eagles were 2A state runners-up in 2003. “You have to stay the course and keep going.”

Buckingham has taken that knowledge and applied it. This spring, it’s helped South Adams win a second straight IHSAA sectional title (the ninth in program history and second in a row) and earn a spot in the Class 2A Whiting Regional. The IHSBCA No. 2-ranked Starfires play Hammond Noll at 10 a.m. CST, followed by Eastside vs. Boone Grove. The regional final is slated for 6 p.m. CST.

At 27-2, the 2018 South Adams squad has already tied the 1982 state finalist team (27-6-1) for the school’s most single-season baseball victories ever. The school also produced a state runner-up in 1972.

The Starfires are led on the mound and at the plate by junior Grant Besser. The left-handed pitcher/shortstop has a 9-0 record with six saves to go along with a .511 batting average, six home runs, two triples and 16 doubles.

The South Adams mound staff also features sophomore left-hander Collin Shaffer (6-1), freshman right-hander Adam Besser (6-0), senior right-handers Austin Davidson (3-0, 3 saves) and Mark Cleary (3-1, 1 save).

When not pitching, Shaffer plays first base and Cleary is the team’s starting catcher.

Besides Besser, Cleary (.412) and senior second baseman Joe Stuber (.396) are the top offensive threats.

No current players have yet made college baseball commitments. South Adams graduates Collin Affolder (Bethel College) and Chandler Ingle (Goshen College) just finished their collegiate careers. Blake Fox (Bluffton University) wound up his in 2017.

Buckingham’s coaching staff includes Craig McKean (former head coach at Southern Wells for 10 years before coming back to his alma mater), Jim Buckingham (Brad’s father), Branden Alberson, Chad Mitchell and Blade Rheinhart.

South Adams belongs to the Allen County Athletic Conference (along with Adams Central, Bluffton, Heritage, Jay County, Southern Wells and Woodlan).

South Adams plays its home games on-campus at Harry F. Anderson Field. The facility named for the school’s first athletic director and a former baseball coach just got new pro-style brick dugouts last year.

A fundraising campaign brought in around $90,000 for the project.

“They’re pretty neat,” says Buckingham. “We took a lot of measurements at Parkview Field (in Fort Wayne).”

The Starfires try to do projects each year to improve Anderson Field.

“That’s foundational in our prorgam,” says Buckingham. “We want to make it a hangout place for our players — something they want to come to. That’s something we have control over. We don’t have control over how much talent we have.”

The South Adams Youth League, which has a 12-person board that Buckingham and Starfires head softball coach Jessie O’Dell both sit on, is a feeder system for the high school.

Brad Buckingham is an eighth grade math teacher at the high school while wife Ashley Buckingham is a physical education instructor and head volleyball coach at the high school. The couple have four children (one boy and three girls) — Duke (8), Emmaline (6), Elizabeth (4) and Everly (who turns 2 next week).

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THEBUCKINGHAMS

The Buckingham family celebrates a 2018 IHSAA sectional baseball championship for South Adams. Brad and Ashley are in the back. In the front (from left): Duke, Everly, Emmaline and Elizabeth. Brad Buckingham is in his 11th season as Starfires head coach.