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.
Notre Dame — the last college baseball team from Indiana left standing in 2022 — found out today (May 30) that the Irish will be in the Statesboro Regional for the 64-team NCAA Division I tournament. The No. 2-seeded Irish (35-14) play No. 3 Texas Tech (37-20) at 2 p.m. Friday, June 3. Site host and top-seeded Georgia Southern (40-18) plays No. UNC Greensboro (34-28) at 7 p.m. Friday. Notre Dame made it to the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. Regionals continue through June 6 with super regionals June 10-13 and the College World Series June 17-27. Ball State made it to the “if necessary” Mid-American Conference tournament championship game against Central Michigan and lost 11-7 to wind up the season at 40-19 overall and 32-7 as MAC regular-season champions. Central Michigan earned an automatic NCAA tournament bid. Evansville (32-24, 14-6), Indiana State (26-22-1, 10-10-1) and Valparaiso (16-32, 5-15) bowed out in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Seasons came to a close for Purdue (29-21, 9-12) and Indiana (27-32, 10-14) at the Big Ten tournament. Purdue Fort Wayne (18-36, 13-15) finished up in the Horizon League tournament. In the past few weeks, conferences have handed out postseason awards at the NCAA D-I, D-II and D-III, NAIA and junior college levels and there is a list of those below.
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)
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
Franklin — with a 17-5 overall record — has gotten off to the best start of 2022 among the state’s NCAA Division III schools. The Lance Marshall-coached Grizzlies enjoyed a 4-1 week (March 28-April 3). One of the highlights was senior Logan Demkovich’s four home runs in a doubleheader sweep of Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Bluffton. Munster High School graduate Demkovich is now hitting .410 with 12 home runs and 36 runs batted in. Earlham (13-5) won its first two HCAC games. Quakers head coach Steve Sakosits reached the 200-win plateau earlier this season. D-III Trine enjoyed a 3-1 week, including a three-game Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association sweep of Olivet. The first two games were the Thunder’s first home contests of the season.
With a win Sunday against Aquinas, Indiana Tech gave Warriors coach Kip McWilliams his 500th career victory. NCAA Division I Ball State saw its 10-game win streak end with a loss Sunday at Toledo. The Rich Maloney-coached Cardinals (17-9) fashioned a 6-1 week and moved to 12-2 in the Mid-American Conference. Griffith graduate Amir Wright (.344) leads the BSU attack for the lead-off spot. Hamilton Heights graduate Tyler Schweitzer (4-2), Lawrence North alum Ty Johnson (4-1) and Bloomington North grad Sam Klein (six saves) are among the leading pitchers. A 4-0 week for Notre Dame included a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference sweep at Florida State. The Irish won 2-0 in 12 innings, 5-4 (with one run in the eighth inning and two in the ninth) and 9-7 (with two eighth-inning runs). ND head coach Link Jarrett played at FSU. A 4-0 week for Evansville (13-14) included a three-game non-conference sweep of Michigan State. Wes Carroll’s Purple Aces are 7-4 on their home turf. Butler (14-14) went 4-1 on the week. Dave Schrage’s Bulldogs have won five of their last six heading into a Tuesday game at Notre Dame. Schrage reached 850 career wins earlier this spring. NCAA Division II Indianapolis won three of four Great Lakes Valley Conference games at Truman as part of a 3-3 week. Al Ready’s Greyhounds are 5-5 in away contests. Inclement weather meant no games for Dave Griffin’s Purdue Northwest squad. The Pride is 10-7. Following a 5-1 week NAIA Taylor (24-10) is tied atop the Crossroads League standings with Mount Vernon Nazarene at 14-4. Kyle Gould’s Trojans were to play two at Saint Francis today (April 4). Also in the Crossroads League, Rich Benjamin’s Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (17-14) went 5-1 and Seth Zartman’s Bethel Pilots (13-21) went 4-2.
Week of March 28-April 3 NCAA D-I Monday, March 28 Ball State 2, Western Michigan 0 Ball State 12, Western Michigan 5
Tuesday, March 29 Butler 7, Bellarmine 4 Evansville 10, Austin Peay 5 Notre Dame 11, Northern Illinois 2 Illinois-Chicago 10, Purdue 9 Purdue Fort Wayne 11, Valparaiso 3
Friday, April 1 Ball State 8, Toledo 1 Butler 1, Eastern Illinois 0 Evansville 7, Michigan State 2 Indiana 5, Northwestern 4 Indiana State 4, Illinois State 2 Notre Dame 2, Florida State 0 (12 inn.) Illinois 8, Purdue 1 Wright State 5, Purdue Fort Wayne 3 Illinois-Chicago 9, Valparaiso 7 Valparaiso 8, Illinois-Chicago 3
Saturday, April 2 Ball State 7, Toledo 3 Ball State 10, Toledo 2 Eastern Illinois 3, Butler 2 Evansville 7, Michigan State 5 Northwestern 7, Indiana 6 Illinois State 12, Indiana State 2 Notre Dame 5, Florida State 4 Illinois 11, Purdue 10 Wright State 17, Purdue Fort Wayne 11
Sunday, April 3 Toledo 5, Ball State 1 Butler 2, Eastern Illinois 0 Butler 2, Eastern Illinois 1 Evansville 5, Michigan State 4 Northwestern 13, Indiana 6 Indiana State 5, Illinois State 2 Notre Dame 9, Florida State 7 Illinois 11, Purdue 8 Wright State 12, Purdue Fort Wayne 3 Valparaiso 5, Illinois-Chicago 2
NCAA D-II Tuesday, March 29 Kentucky Wesleyan 8, Indianapolis 2 Kentucky Wesleyan 4, Indianapolis 1 Maryville 15, Southern Indiana 8
Friday, April 1 Truman 3, Indianapolis 2 Quincy 7, Southern Indiana 2
Saturday, April 2 Truman 3, Indianapolis 2 Indianapolis 4, Truman 2 Southern Indiana 5, Quincy 1 Quincy 5, Southern Indiana 3
Sunday, April 3 Indianapolis 9, Truman 3 Quincy 6, Southern Indiana 4
NCAA D-III Monday, March 28 Franklin 9, St. Olaf 8
Tuesday, March 29 Carson-Newman 13, DePauw 3 Wittenberg 10, Earlham 5 St. Olaf 4, Franklin 3 Hanover 15, Mount St. Joseph 14 (13 inn.) Hanover 9, Mount St. Joseph 5 Rose-Hulman 7, Wabash 1 Ohio Northern 12, Trine 11
Wednesday, March 30 Anderson 15, Greenville 5 DePauw 10, Earlham 3 Franklin 7, Williams 6 Heidelberg 8, Manchester 2
Saturday, April 2 DePauw 12, Wooster 4 Wooster 13, DePauw 6 Earlham 7, Mount St. Joseph 4 Earlham 12, Mount St. Joseph 8 Franklin 16, Bluffton 4 Franklin 13, Bluffton 3 Manchester 6, Hanover 2 Manchester 6, Hanover 2 Trine 3, Olivet 0 Trine 13, Olivet 3 Allegheny 8, Wabash 3 Allegheny 11, Wabash 0
Sunday, April 3 Anderson 4, Rose-Hulman 3 Anderson 6, Rose-Hulman 5 Trine 4, Olivet 2
NAIA Tuesday, March 29 Bethel 6, Marian 4 Marian 8, Bethel 0 St. Francis (Ill.) 7, Calumet of St. Joseph 1 IU Southeast 16, Campbellsville 7 Indiana Wesleyan 9, Grace 7 Grace 5, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Spring Arbor 16, Huntington 14 Huntington 15, Spring Arbor 2 Concordia 6, Indiana Tech 5 Indiana Tech 5, Concordia 3 Taylor 13, Saint Francis 1 Taylor 11, Saint Francis 0 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 5, Goshen 3 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 3, Goshen 1
Wednesday, March 30 Lawrence Tech 5, IU Kokomo 4 Lawrence Tech 10, IU Kokomo 4 St. Francis (Ill.) 12, IU South Bend 4 Indiana Wesleyan 18, Thomas More 4
Friday, April 1 Grace 9, Bethel 4 Bethel 13, Grace 3 Taylor 12, Goshen 1 Goshen 3, Taylor 2 IU Kokomo 15, Midway 5 Midway 5, IU Kokomo 4 Olivet Nazarene 10, IU South Bend 0 Olivet Nazarene 11, IU South Bend 3 IU Southeast 8, Oakland City 7 IU Southeast 16, Oakland City 4 Indiana Wesleyan 12, Saint Francis 1 Indiana Wesleyan 11, Saint Francis 5
Saturday, April 2 Bethel 4, Grace 2 Bethel 3, Grace 0 Taylor 13, Goshen 1 Taylor 10, Goshen 3 Huntington 10, Marian 6 Huntington 14, Marian 12 (8 inn.) IU Kokomo 7, Midway 6 (10 inn.) Olivet Nazarene 9, IU South Bend 5 Oakland City 10, IU Southeast 9 (11 inn.) Cornerstone 5, Indiana Tech 4 Cornerstone 9, Indiana Tech 3 Indiana Wesleyan 11, Saint Francis 1 Indiana Wesleyan 13, Saint Francis 6
The Mighty Oaks of Oakland City University swing some mighty potent bats in improving to 11-4 on the 2022 baseball season. OCU went 6-1 for the Week of Feb. 21-27 and collected 49 hits — 16 for extra bases — in a four-game sweep of Grace Christian. Chandler Dunn (.533, 12 runs batted in, 16 runs scored), Noah Baugher (.419, 11 R), Payton Hall (Benton Central High School graduate) (.400, 17 R), Treven Madden (2 home runs, 12 RBIs), Sam Pinckert (Heritage Hills) (2 HR, 16 RBIs, 12 R), Bailey Falkenstien (Jeffersonville) (2 HR), Gehrig Tenhumberg (Evansville Reitz) (2-0, 2.70 earned run average, 23 strikeouts, 3 walks, 20 innings) and Milan VanDerBreggen (2-1, 2.38, 15 K’s, 1 base on balls, 11 1/3 IP) are among leaders for Andy Lasher-coached Mighty Oaks. Oakland City went 17-27 in 2021. In other NAIA play, Taylor — coached by Kyle Gould — moved to 9-6 with a 3-1 week. On the season, offensive leaders include T.J. Bass (Greenwood Community) (.356 average, 5 HR, 26 RBIs), Kaleb Kolpien (Homestead) (.474, 12 RBIs) and Camden Knepp (Northridge) (12 RBIs). On the mound, Matt Duktowski (NorthWood) is 2-0 with 16 K’s and three walks over 15 1/3 innings. Todd Bacon-coached Marian went 2-2 for the week and is 8-6. For the season, A.J. Bordenet (Lafayette Central Catholic) (.458, 11 RBIs), Jackson Hogg (.390), Bryce Davenport (.350, 3 HR, 10 RBIs), Kato Hironori (2 HR) and Brodie Rinehold (Franklin Community) (2 HR) are among top batsmen. Pitcher Damien Wallace (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) has made four starts and is 3-0 with 3.05 ERA, 24 K’s and eight walks in 20 2/3 innings. Some other NAIA performers: Indiana University Southeast — Trevor Campbell (.364) and Brody Tanksley (Bedford North Lawrence) (4 HR, 10 RBIs); Indiana Tech — Jacob Daftari (Hamilton Southeastern) (.471) and Manuel Ascanio (.407); Indiana University-Kokomo — Dylan Steele (Bloomington North) (.357) and Ben Harris (Northwestern) (2-1, 2.08, 13 K’s, 10 BB, 13 IP); Grace — Alex Rich (Crown Point) (.395, 11 RBIs), Chris Griffin (.375, 10 RBIs), Sam Newkirk (3 HR, 11 RBIs) and Austin Carr (Franklin Central) (10 RBIs); Bethel — Andrew Sarno (.474), Jake Schlasky (Crown Point) (10 RBIs), Jeremy Wiersema (9 RBIs, 7-of-8 on stolen bases) and Frank Plesac (Crown Point) (2-1, 2.55, 21 K’s, 5 BB, 17 2/3 IP); and Goshen — Morgan Baker (2 HR in Game 1 vs. Brescia). NCAA Division I Purdue is off to an 8-0 start. Led by Curtis Washington Jr. (7-of-7) and Evan Albrecht (6-of-6), the Boliermakers are 35-of-35 in stolen base attempts. Albrecht (.462), Washington (.375), Cam Thompson (13 RBIs) and Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon) (2-0, 1.07, 18 K’s, 4 BB, 9 1/3 IP) are among the hot Boilermakers, which are coached by Greg Goff. Some other top NCAA D-I performers: Notre Dame — Ryan Cole (.500, 6 RBI, 5-5 SB), Brooks Coetze (2 HR), Carter Putz (8 RBI), Jack Brannigan (6 RBI), Aidan Tyrell (2-0, 0.00, 11 K’s, 3 BB, 11 IP) and John Michael Bertrand (2-0. 0.69, 19 K’s, 1 BB, 13 IP; Indiana State — Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo) (.414), Diego Gines (.407), Mike Sears (2 HR), Parker Stinson (Yorktown) (9 RBI), Miguel Rivera (6 RBI), Sean Ross (6 RBI) and Matt Jachec (2-0. 1.35, 13 K’s, 0 BB, 13 1/3 IP); Valparaiso — Kaleb Hannahs (West Vigo) (.474, 2 HR, 7 runs), Alex Thurston (.353), Kyle Schmack (South Central of Union Mills) (.333, 5 RBIs) and Colin Fields 1-0, 1.64, 15 K’s, 5 BB, 11 IP); Butler — Travis Holt (.478, 7 R, 5-6 SB), James Gargano (7 RBIs), Cole McDaniel (1-0, 2.25) and Derek Drees (0-0, 2 games, 10 K’s, 3 BB, 5 IP); Ball State — Amir Wright (Griffith) (.333); Indiana — Bobby Whalen (.391, 4 RBI, 5-5 SB), Matthew Ellis (2 HR) and Braydon Tucker (Northview) (0-1, 1.93, 2 appearances, 5 K, 5 BB, 4 2/3 IP); Evansville — Mark Shallenberger (.304) and Nick Smith (Boonville) (0-1, 1.61, 9 1/3 IP); and Purdue Fort Wayne — Alex Evenson (.320) and Jack Lang (Hamilton Southeastern) (.310, 6 RBIs). Tracy Archuleta-coached Southern Indiana is out of the gate at 6-0. The Screaming Eagles have been led by Lucas McNew (Borden) (.455, 2 HR, 13 RBIs through 5 games), Ethan Hunter (Terre Haute South Vigo) (11 RBIs) and Brice Stuteville (South Spencer) (0-0, 1.42, 3 games, 8 K’s, 0 BB, 6 1/3 IP). Other top NCAA D-II performers: Indianapolis — Alex Vela (Cardinal Ritter) (.478, 6 RBIs, 11 R, 5-7 SB), Caleb Vaughan (Lawrence North) (.409, 10 R), Drew Donaldson (8 RBI) and Xavier Rivas (Portage) (1-0, 1.93, 2 games, 23 K’s, 6 BB, 14 IP). In NCAA Division III, the Adam Rosen Era began at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with the Fightin’ Engineers winning both of the first-year head coach’s first two games. Adam Taylor (Perry Meridian) (5 RBI’s), Josh Mesenbrink (4 RBI’s), Brett Tuttle (1 HR, 5 R) and Ian Kline (1-0, 1.50, 4 2/3 IP) are among the RHIT leaders. Other top NCAA D-III performers: Earlham — Cameron McCabe (.500), Zach Swearingen (.500), Andrew Bradley (.500), Maxwell Fries (8 RBIs) and Keodon Kuderer (6 R); Franklin — Logan Demkovich (Munster) (2 HR); DePauw — Evan Barnes .588 through 4 games), Cameron Macon .563, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 8 R) and Cameron Allen (9 R); Wabash — Liam Patton (Warsaw) (.800 3 2B, 3 RBIs), Camden Scheidt (Highland) (.500), Reese Bauer (Northeast Dubois) (.500) and Dylan Scheid (Lawrence North) (0-0, 1.50, 1 game, 8 Ks, 0 BB, 6 IP); Anderson — Jake Stank (Mount Vernon of Fortville) (.444) and Tyler Smitherman (Westfield) (2 HR); and Manchester — Brady Perez (Rochester) (2 HR, 4 RBIs). In junior college, Vincennes U.’s Colton Evans is hitting .465 and Connor VanLannen is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 18 K’s in 15 innings.
Friday, Feb. 25 UNC-Wilmington 2, Ball State 0 Butler 6, Jackson State 5 Arkansas 5, Indiana 2 Indiana State 14, Merrimack 2 Notre Dame 20, Marist 2 Purdue 9, Princeton 3 Purdue 8, Princeton 3 California Baptist 4, Purdue Fort Wayne Valparaiso 9, Alabama A&M 2 Valparaiso 3, Alabama A&M 2
Saturday, Feb. 26 Middle Tennessee 1, Ball State 0 Butler 10, Prairie View 1 Butler 9, Jackson State 1 Evansville 11, Dayton 2 Indiana 12, Louisiana-Lafayette 4 Indiana State 16, Minnesota 3 Notre Dame 16, Monmouth 2 Notre Dame 9, Monmouth 0 Purdue 4, Princeton 3 Purdue 5, Princeton 4 California Baptist 23, Purdue Fort Wayne 5 California Baptist 5, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Sunday, Feb. 27 Coastal Carolina 7, Ball State 2 Dayton 4, Evansville 2 Dayton 5, Evansville 4 Stanford 13, Indiana 0 Indiana State 14, Minnesota 8 Purdue Fort Wayne vs. California Baptist
NCAA D-II Saturday, Feb. 26 Northwood 11, Indianapolis 6 Northwood 5, Indianapolis 4 Southern Indiana 12, Lake Erie 4
Sunday, Feb. 27 Northwood 9, Indianapolis 4 Southern Indiana 8, Lake Erie 3
NCAA D-III Wednesday, Feb. 23 Centre 9, Hanover 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Otterbein 8, Anderson 3 Baldwin Wallace 9, DePauw 8 Franklin 20, Albion 1 North Central 15, Manchester 5 Hope 16, Manchester 5 Wabash 3, Heidelberg 2 Maryville 4, Hanover 1 Earlham 20, Olivet 4 Earlham 9, Olivet 4 Asbury 5, Trine 4 Asbury 5, Trine 1
Sunday, Feb. 27 Baldwin Wallace 9, Anderson 4 DePauw 10, Transylvania 4 Earlham 10, Olivet 9 Franklin 11, Albion 6 Franklin 11, Albion 5 Wabash 15, Otterbein 5 Rose-Hulman 14, North Vermont-Lyndon 1 Rose-Hulman 12, North Vermon-Lyndon 11 Trine 3, Asbury 1
NAIA Monday, Feb. 21 Bethel 5, Oakland City 3 Oakland City 5, Bethel 4 (8 inn.) IU-Kokomo 5, Calumet of Saint Joseph 2 IU-Kokomo 5, Calumet of Saint Joseph 1 Indiana Tech 4, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Indiana Wesleyan 6, Indiana Tech 3 Marian 11, Georgetown 9
Wednesday, Feb. 23 Oakland City 9, Asbury 2
Thursday, Feb. 24 Bethel 11, Toccoa Falls 7
Friday, Feb. 25 Toccoa Falls 7, Bethel 1 Faulkner 3, Indiana Wesleyan 2 Indiana Wesleyan 4, Faulkner 3 Marian 9, Edward Waters 5 Edward Waters 8, Marian 7 Edward Waters 2, Marian 1 Taylor 8, Olivet Nazarene 6 Olivet Nazarene 2, Taylor 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Bethel 4, Toccoa Falls 0 Bethel 4, Toccoa Falls 3 Faulkner 8, Indiana Wesleyan 4 Faulkner 4, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Oakland City 13, Grace Christian 1 Oakland City 13, Grace Christian 4 Saint Francis 7, IU South Bend 5 Saint Francis 7, IU South Bend 6 Taylor 11, Olivet Nazarene 1 Taylor 9, Olivet Nazarene 5
Sunday, Feb. 27 Brescia 5, Goshen 4 Brescia 8, Goshen 5 Oakland City 11, Grace Christian 1 Oakland City 26, Grace Christian 0 Indiana Tech 6, IU Kokomo 2 Indiana Tech 7, IU Kokomo 5
Junior College Monday, Feb. 21 Vincennes 10, Marian’s Ancilla 2 Vincennes 3, South Suburban 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Clark State 4, Marian’s Ancilla 3 Clark State 9, Marian’s Ancilla 4
Sunday, Feb. 27 Marian’s Ancilla 10, Clark State 9 Clark State 7, Marian’s Ancilla 3 Morton 10, Vincennes 5 Joliet 10, Vincennes 3
The state’s nine NCAA Division I baseball teams opened the 2022 this past weekend. Purdue swept a four-game series against South Dakota State — 5-4, 11-1, 14-3 and 10-7 Friday through Sunday, Feb. 18-20 — in Sugar Land, Texas. Mike Bolton Jr., Paul Toetz and Cam Thompson all went 4-of-11 (.364) at the plate for the Boilermakers. Toetz belted a pair of home runs. Thompson drove in nine runs. Ty Gill (Valparaiso High School graduate) homered in his first collegiate at-bat in Game 2. Winning pitchers were right-hander Landon Weins (Frankton), left-hander Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon), lefty Troy Wansing and righty Kyle Wade (Kokomo). Ball State (2-2) bested Bucknell 8-7 and Army 10-6 and lost 11-1 to Iowa and 9-0 to Air Force in Charleston, S.C. Amir Wright (Griffith) went 5-of-15 (.333) and Ryan Peltier 3-of-10 (.300) for the weekend while Hunter Dobbins (Mount Vernon of Fortville) clubbed two home runs in his first collegiate contest (vs. Bucknell) for the Cardinals. Earning mound wins were lefty Jake Lewis (New Albany) against Bucknell and righty Andre Orselli against Army. Righty Sam Klein (Bloomington North) picked up the save vs. Bucknell. Indiana State (2-2) won 3-2 against Brigham Young and 9-7 against Marshall and lost 9-3 and 9-8 to Ohio State in Port Charlotte, Fla. Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo) went 6-of-14 (.429), Mike Sears 4-of-10 (.400) with two homers and four RBIs and Josue Urdaneta 7-of-18 (.389) for the Sycamores. Winning hurlers were righty Matt Jachec against BYU and righty Brennyn Cutts against Marshall. Righty Connor Fenlong saved both victories. Notre Dame (2-1) topped Manhattan 17-2 and Stetson 5-3 and lost 5-4 to Delaware in Deland, Fla. David LaManna went 4-of-6 (.667), Brooks Coetze 5-of-17 (.417) with two homers, Carter Putz 4-of-11 (.364) and Zack Prajzner 4-of-11 (.364) for the Irish. Winning pitchers were lefty Aidan Tyrell against Manhattan and lefty John Michael Bertrand against Stetson. Righty Ryan McLinskey got the save against the Hatters. Valparaiso (1-2) lost 13-0 and 4-3 then won 10-8 in a three-game series at Memphis. Kaleb Hannahs (West Vigo) went 6-of-13 (.462) with two homers and Kyle Schmack (South Central of Union Mills) 4-of-11 (.364) for the Beacons. Lefty Jake Miller was the winning pitcher and righty Bobby Nowak (Hanover Central) notched the save in the series finale. Butler (0-3) lost 6-4, 18-1 and 25-12 at Murray State. Travis Holt went 4-of-10 and Ryan O’Halloran 3-of-8 for the Bulldogs. Lefty Cory Bosecker (Evansville Central) struck out six in five innings on the mound. Evansville (0-3) lost 24-6, 6-4 and 7-0 at No. 10 North Carolina State. Brent Widder went 4-of-12 (.333) and Ty Rumsey (Evansville North) 3-of-10 (.300) for the Purple Aces. Lefty Michael Parks fanned four in 2 2/3 innings. Indiana (0-3) lost 9-0, 19-4 and 5-4 (10 innings) at Clemson. Bobby Whalen went 6-of-14 (.429) and Brock Tibbitts 3-of-7 (.429) while Tyler Doanes, Matthew Ellis and Phillip Glasser homered for the Hoosiers. Righty Jack Perkins (Kokomo) whiffed eight in 3 2/3 innings and righty Reese Sharp (University) seven in three. Purdue Fort Wayne (0-4) lost 13-2, 12-2, 6-5 and 8-7 at Georgia State. Jack Lang (Hamilton Southeastern) went 5-of-14 (.357) with one homer and six RBIs, Alex Evenson 4-of-12 (.333), Cade Nelis (Noblesville) 3-of-9 (.333) and Garret Lake plated five runs for the Mastodons. In NCAA Division II, the University of Indianapolis (3-0) downed Notre Dame (Ohio) 5-0, 15-14 and 13-3 at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. Drew Donaldson drove in four runs in Game 3 and three in Game 2 (when the Greyhounds scored in every frame but the fourth and fifth). Alex Vela (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) scored four runs in Game 2. Brandon DeWitt scored three runs in Game 2 and plated three in Game 3. Winning pitchers were lefty Xavier Rivas (Portage) in Game 1, righty Wyatt Phillips (Indian Creek) in Game 2 and righty Logan Peterson in Game 3. Southern Indiana (3-0) won 19-6, 11-4 and 10-8 at Young Harris (Ga.). Lucas McNew (Borden) knocked in six runs in Game 1 and scored four in Game 2. Adam Wildeman (Evansville Mater Dei) plated three runs and Ethan Hunter (Terre Haute South Vigo) scored four in Game 2. Daniel Lopez scored three times in Game 3 for the Screaming Eagles. Winning hurlers were righty Tyler Hutson, lefty Blake Ciuffetelli (Castle) and righty Carter Stamm (Jasper). Purdue Northwest is slated to open the season Friday, Feb. 25 at McKendree (Ill.). In NCAA Division III, DePauw (2-1) lost 6-3 to North Central (Ill.) then routed Wilimington (Ohio) 16-0 and Blackburn (Ill.) 25-7 in Carbondale, Ill. Cameron Allen and Brian May drove in three runs each and Allen, Kyle Boyer and Cameron Macon (home run) scored three apiece against Wilmington for the Tigers. Against Blackburn, Macon plated five, May and Paul Jennewein three each while Allen, May, Macon and Evan Barnes all crossed the plate three times. Lefty Michael Vallone and righty Will Lucas were winning pitchers. While Anderson is 1-2, Hanover (Feb. 22 at Centre), Manchester (Feb. 25 vs. North Central at Grand Park), Wabash (Feb. 25 vs. Heidelberg at Grand Park), Earlham (Feb. 26 vs. Olivet), Franklin (Feb. 26 vs. Albion at Indianapolis Bishop Chatard), Trine (Feb. 26 at Asbury) and Rose-Hulman (Feb. 27 vs. Northern Vermont-Lyndon in Auburndale, Fla.) are nearing their season openers. In the NAIA, No. 7 Indiana University Southeast (5-6) swept three games at Blue Mountain (Miss.) — 7-4, 14-6 and 9-4 — running the Grenadiers’ win streak to five. In Game 1, Brody Tanksley plated three runs and head coach Ben Reel became the career wins leader at IUS with 478, surpassing Rick Parr. In Game 2, Marco Romero drove in two runs and scored four. In Game 3, Trevor Campbell knocked in three runs. Taylor (6-5) downed Siena Heights (Mich.) 12-1, 4-0 and 4-3 and lost 9-3 in Hoover, Ala. Kade Vander Molen (4 RBIs in Game 1), Bloomington South grad Mason David (homer in Game 2 to support righty and Mishawaka graduate Luke Shively) and Greenwood alum T.J. Bass (3 RBIs to back righty and NorthWood grad Matt Dutkowski in Game 3) were among key contributors for the Trojans. Goshen (3-3) split four games at Toccoa Falls (Ga.), winning 11-7 and 6-3 in Game 1 and 3 and losing 3-0 and 14-3 in Game 2 and 4. Camm Nickell (Northridge) is 7-of-18 (.389) with four RBIs on the season for the Maple Leafs. Saint Francis (6-4) won 10-8 and 4-2 before losing 8-7 and 7-5 at Pikeville (Ky.). David Miller homered and drove in three runs in Game 1. Sam Pesa (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) plated three runs in Game 2. Indiana University South Bend beat Aquinas (Mich.) 11-7 and lost 15-14 in 10 innings at Grand Park. Evan Allen (McCutcheon) drove in three runs while Owen Benson and Brenden Bell scored three runs each for the Titans in Game 1. Benson had two RBIs and three runs in Game 2. Indiana Tech (2-3) beat Midway (Ky.) 5-3 and lost 6-5 to host Georgetown (Ky.). Jacob Daftari is 7-of-14 (.500 and Manuel Ascanio 8-of-21 (.381) on the season for the Warriors. Oakland City (5-3) split a doubleheader with Bethel, losing 7-2 and winning 7-6. Sam Pinckert (Heritage Hills) drove in three runs in the Mighty Oaks’ win. In the triumph for Bethel (2-8), Alex Stout (Benton Central) socked a three-run homer and wound up with four RBIs. Marian (6-4) beat Carolina University 11-5 then lost 9-2 to Carolina U., in Winston-Salem, N.C., and 8-4 at No. 5 Tennessee Wesleyan. Matteo Porcellato collected three hits and scored three runs in the Knights’ win against Carolina. Righty Damien Wallace (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) was the winning pitcher. Grace (5-7) lost 10-0, 9-5, 2-0 and 12-4 to Saint Xavier (Ill.) in White Pine, Tenn. Alex Rich (Crown Point) is 17-of-43 (.395) for the Lancers on the season. Among junior colleges, Nick Kapostasy lofted a walk-off sacrifice fly as Vincennes University (2-3) edged South Suburban (Ill.) 8-7 after beating Marian University’s Ancilla College 15-5. South Suburban (Ill.) beat MUAC (0-5) by a 17-3 count. All games were played at Vincennes.
“I’m a very hard-working individual,” says Crail, 22. “I’m very confident. My confidence allows me to go on the field and not to think about things that happened in the past.
“I move on to the next play.”
The lefty-swinging outfielder started in all 21 of Saint Leo’s games in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder hit a team-best .320 (24-of-75) with four home runs, three triples, three doubles, six stolen bases, 19 runs batted in and 17 runs scored.
Crail likes that O’Dette allows him the freedom to do his own way while offering advice to help him improve his game.
“He really gives all the players the flexibility to do whatever they want in technique and approach,” says Crail. “It’s what I’ve been doing my whole life and adding guidance along the way.”
Along with playing baseball, Crail is on target to earn a degree in Sports Business next spring.
Griffith (Ind.) High School graduate Amir Wright was at Saint Joseph’s when the school closed and he transferred to Saint Leo. After landing in Florida, Crail became fast friends with Wright.
“We connected right off the bat being Indiana guys,” says Crail of Wright. “He’s very good teammate to play for.
“He’s showed me the ropes.”
Matt Kennedy, who coached with O’Dette at Saint Joseph’s, was the hitting coach at Saint Leo before coming back to Indiana to join the Butler University staff.
Kennedy was the head coach of the Snapping Turtles in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., and Crail was on the team, hitting .297 (19-of-64) with two triples, four doubles, 12 RBIs and 13 runs.
Before the pandemic, Crail was supposed to play in the Valley League for the Covington (Va.) Lumberjacks.
When the Valley League canceled its season, Crail played in the circuit based about 15 minutes from home.
At Danville, Crail hit .368 (42-of-114) with seven homers, three triples, seven doubles, six stolen bases, 39 RBIs and 22 runs in 29 games.
Between the shutdown and the 2020 summer season, Crail joined friends — many former Indiana teammates — in working out and having live at-bat sessions at RoundTripper Sports Academy in Westfield.
Crail has trained at RoundTripper since 10 and he began playing travel ball for the Indiana Mustangs.
“I have a good relationship with (owner) Chris Estep and all the guys at RoundTripper,” says Crail.
Born in Carmel and raised in Sheridan, Crail played baseball in the local recreation system before beginning travel ball at 9U with the Indiana Prospects. He went on to represent the Indiana Mustangs (10U to 12U and 17U), Indiana Outlaws (13U) and Indiana Stix (14U to 16U). Head coaches were Shane Cox with the Prospects, Nathan Habegger and Ken Niles with the Mustangs, Dwayne Hutchinson with the Outlaws and Ray Hilbert with the Stix.
Crail played four seasons at Sheridan High — three for Matt Britt and one for Larry Lipker.
“(Britt) was a really fun guy to be around everyday,” says Crail. “He was a players’ coach. He was one of our friends.
“(Lipker) was the same way. He was one of our buddies. He taught me a lot of life lessons. He gave me some insight as to what baseball would like like at the next level. They were both very knowledgeable about the game.”
Sam is the oldest of Westfield firefighter Ray Crail and house cleaner/health supplement salesperson Christie Crail’s three children.
Katy Crail (18) is a Sheridan senior who plays basketball and softball. Her softball travel team is the Indiana Shockwaves. Jack Crail (14) is a Sheridan freshman. His travel baseball team is the Indiana Eagles.
“What you see is what you get,” says Wright of O’Dette. “He’s to-the-point. He’ll tell you how it is. He’s truthful and he’ll push you.
“That’s all you can ask for in a coach. That makes people better in the end.”
Wright’s personality is laid-back. But as he has aged, O’Dette has asked him to become more vocal in his leadership.
“I lead by example — on the field or off the field,” says Wright. “I’m setting the tone leading off the game.”
Wright has been used as a lead-off hitter since his junior year at Griffith playing for head coach Brian Jennings.
Before that year, he grew four or five inches and lowered his 60-yard dash time from 7.4 seconds to 6.6.
“I had the speed to bunt,” says Wright. “Even before I had speed, I didn’t swing and miss a lot and I got on base a lot.”
Last fall at Saint Leo’s Pro Day, Wright was clocked in 6.5 for the 60.
Wright played in 55 games (53 starts) as a Saint Joseph’s freshmen, hitting .306 with 63 hits, one home run, three triples, seven doubles, 30 runs batted in, 44 runs and six stolen bases.
Wright has started in all 109 games at Saint Leo, hitting .340 (146-of-430) with six homers, one triple, 27 doubles, 68 RBIs, 111 runs and 25 stolen bases.
The COVID-19-shortened 2020 season saw him hit .410 (25-of-61) with one homer, one triple, seven doubles, eight RBIs, 23 runs and three steals in 16 games.
“It was a big transition,” says Wright of his move from Indiana to Florida. “I ended up loving it. People are super nice. The school is amazing. Facilities are second to none.”
In-person classes at Saint Leo are scheduled to begin Aug. 25. Wright says he plans to go a few weeks before that to settle into his apartment.
At Griffith, Wright was an honorable mention all-state selection as well as a first-team all-area and second-team all-Northwest Crossroads Conference pick. He helped the Panthers win four sectional titles.
“(Coach Jennings) definitely wanted us to represent Griffith to the fullest of our ability,” says Wright. “A lot of talented players played with me.”
Born in Harvey, Ill., Amir moved to Griffith at 2. He began playing T-ball at 4 and was at what is now called Griffith Youth Baseball until 12. Meanwhile, he also played for the traveling Griffith Growlers from 10 to 13.
Many high school teammates played together since the were young. That includes Kody Hoese, who is the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2020 60-player roster player.
“He left for LA last week,” says Wright of Hoese. “I was with him a couple days before that. Our families are really close.”
Wright spent his 14U and 15U summers (2012 and 2013) with the Dave Griffin-coached Indiana Playmakers and 16U and 17U summers (2014 and 2015) with the Indiana Seminoles. That team was coached by George Jaksich (father of Wright’s SJC teammate, Luke Jaksich).
When the Southland Vikings needed an outfielder in 2016, Wright filled the bill.
“I got lucky,” says Wright. “I was added about a month before the season started.
“It helped me get ready for college baseball.”
Amir (22) is the oldest Willie and Luchie Wright’s three sons ahead of Anson (19) and Aydin (16). Their father is a used car salesman. Their mother is an occupational therapist.
Anson aka “A.J.” played baseball at Griffith High and just finished his freshmen year at Northwood University (Mich.). Aydin was at Griffith as a freshman then transferred to Thornwood High School in South Holland, Ill., for his sophomore year in 2019-20. This summer, he plays for the Chicago White Sox ACE travel organization.
“We did a very good job last year of taking the extra base,” says Bridges, who played four seasons at Griffith (Ind.) High School and five at Purdue University. “We’d see the ball in the dirt and were gone. It’s something I expect out of each one of my kids — to be a good, aggressive base runners.
“We always try to put pressure on the defense and make them make a play. High school kids are prone to make mistakes — even the best of them. A little bit of pressure can go a long way.
“You’re not always going to have those boppers. You can teach these kids to run bases and keep going. I can keep playing that style.”
To get his team ready for the postseason, Bridges has beefed up the non-conference schedule. It includes contests against IHSAA members Crown Point, Hammond Morton, Highland, Hobart, Kankakee Valley, Lowell, Munster, Portage and Valparaiso and Illiana Christian, an Illinois High School Association school in Dyer, Ind.
A game in the annual High School Baseball Challenge hosted by the Gary SouthShore RailCats at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary is scheduled against Lowell on Friday, April 12.
Hanover Central (enrollment around 715) is part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Andrean, Kankakee Valley, Knox, Twin Lakes and Wheeler. The Wildcats have won one sectional crown — 2011. That team went on to be 2A state runners-up.
Bridges played for head coach Brian Jennings at Griffith and graduated in 2007.
A corner infielder and designated hitter for Purdue, Bridges appeared in 126 games (85 as a starter) and hit .288 with six home runs and 61 runs batted in. A back injury in his freshmen season led to a medical redshirt.
“I enjoyed every second of all five years of it,” says Bridges of his Purdue days.
He credits Schreiber for his attention to detail whether it was a bunt play, study tables or the amount of commitment it took to achieve excellence.
“He likes things done a certain way,” says Bridges. “If kids understand the level of commitment needed at the next level, it will help them for the four years of high school.”
Purdue was Big Ten Conference champions in Bridges’ final season (2012). Two of his Boliermaker teammates — catcher Kevin Plawecki and pitcher Nick Wittgren — are now with the Cleveland Indians.
Bridges graduated from Purdue and has a special education endorsement and masters degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. He taught in the Griffith system and was an assistant on Jennings’ baseball staff for four seasons before going to Hanover Central, where he teaches physical education at the middle school in addition to going baseball.
While he may not have been that way when he was playing for him, Bridges says he saw Jennings come to the see the value of giving his players a physical and mental break when it’s needed.
“We get the whole week off before tryouts,” says Bridges of his Wildcats program. “Once it starts, there’s no break.
“That’s pretty important.”
During this IHSAA limited contact period where coaches can lead their teams in baseball activities for two hours two times a week, Bridges has players coming in at 5:30 a.m.
“We have quite a few basketball kids,” says Bridges. “Coach (Bryon) Clouse is nice enough to let my pitchers throw.”
“I the way they have it set up now,” says Bridges. “Coaches are aren’t running these kids four days a week in January and February.
“But I wish they would let pitchers throw a little more. Arm care is important and some of these kids have nowhere to throw — not only pitchers, but position players.”
Hanover Central pitchers began bullpens this week. Bridges will slowly progress their pitch counts moving up to the first official day of practice (March 11) and beyond.
“I’ll use more arms earlier in the (season) before I can get arms in shape,” says Bridges, who does not recall any of his hurlers reaching the limit of the pitch count rule adopted in 2017 (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days). I’m very precautionary when it comes to that. Some of these kids have futures (as college pitchers).”
Bridges’ coaching staff features Nic Sampognaro, Cole Mathys, Anthony Gomez and Mike Halls. Sampognaro is a 2011 Hanover Central graduate who played at Saint Joseph’s College. Volunteer Mathys is also an HC graduate. Gomez played at Munster and moved on to Vincennes University and Ball State University. Halls is in charge of the Wildcats’ junior varsity.
Noting that the community is growing and that there are a number of baseball players in the eighth grade, Bridges says there is the possibility of having a C-team in the future.
Hanover Central is located in Cedar Lake, Ind. Cedar Lake also sends some students to Crown Point. Some St. John students wind up at Hanover Central.
Hanover Central Middle School fields a team for Grades 6-8 in the fall.
Catcher Jesse Wilkening, a 2015 Hanover Central graduate, made his professional debut in the Phillies system in 2018.
Hanover Central plays it home games on-campus. Since Bridges has been with the Wildcats, they have added a batting cage behind the home dugout and got a portable “Big Bubba” portable batting cage and pitching machine.
“We always looking to improve the field,” says Bridges. “But I want to help the kids first with their skills.”
Ryan and Nicole Bridges have a daughter. Harper turns 2 in March.
The Hanover Central Wildcats (Hanover Central Graphic)
Head coach Ryan Bridges and his Hanover Central Wildcats baseball team.
The baseball team from Hanover Central High School in Cedar Lake, Ind., gathers at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary. The Wildcats, coached by Ryan Bridges, are to play at the home of the Gary SouthShore RailCats again April 12, 2019.
The Bridges family (from left): Ryan, Nicole and Harper. Ryan Bridges is head baseball coach at Hanover Central High School in Cedar Lake, Ind. He teaches physical education at Hanover Central Middle School.
While there are former SJC players now at all levels of college baseball, there are four contributing this spring with NCAA Division I programs not far from Gil Hodges Field.
Junior right-handed pitcher Quinn Snarksis wound up as starter at the University of Illinois.
Sophomores Noah Powell and Lukas Jaksich are both at Ball State University — Powell (who went to Mount Vernon High School in Fortville, Ind.) as starting shortstop and lead-off hitter and left-hander Jaksich (who went to Andrean High School in Merrillville) as a starting pitcher.
“We miss those guys,” says O’Dette of his former players. “They were put into a spot. I stay in contact with a lot of them.”
O’Dette is now head baseball coach at Saint Leo University in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area. There are about 2,600 students on campus with many more connected in various ways around the country.
Playing in the powerhouse NCAA Division II Sunshine State Conference (along with Tampa, Nova Southeastern, Florida Southern, Palm Beach Atlantic, Eckerd, Lynn, Barry, Embry-Riddle and Rollins), the Lions were off to a 36-10 start and still fighting for a regional tournament berth in 2018.
“It’s considered the best Division II conference in the country,” says O’Dette, whose team recently took two-of-three in an SSC series against Florida Southern. (Saint Leo is) literally one of the best places in the country. The school looks like a resort.”
Just since O’Dette got there, there has been $35,000 in upgrade to the baseball facilities.
School has been out for two weeks and the team has been practicing multiple times a day in 85-degree weather.
Matt Kennedy, who served with O’Dette at Saint Joe in two different stints, is his top assistant at Saint Leo.
Former SJC player Morgan DePew is a volunteer assistant coach for the Lions.
Sophomore Amir Wright, a Griffith High School product and former Puma, is Saint Leo’s center fielder and lead-off hitter.
Once part of the SJC mound staff, sophomore right-hander Joey Antonopoulos is one of SLU’s top relievers.
O’Dette hit the ground running when he arrived on campus in late June of 2017, signing 13 new players in the first six weeks or so. Six of Saint Leo’s signings for 2019 are from the Midwest, including Center Grove senior Mikey Wyman.
Among the many standouts for the 2018 Lions is junior Peyton Isaacson. The former Coastal Carolina University player is both a power-hitting catcher and closer for Saint Leo. Swinging from the left side, he has 11 home runs and has also used his right arm to notch 14 saves.
Senior second baseman Zach Scott is another head-turner for the Lions.