Sam Pinckert was productive in his first baseball season at Oakland (Ind.) City University in 2022. Playing mostly left field with a few of his 46 games at right field and second base, Pinckert hit .269 (42-of-156) with six home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 38 runs batted in and 43 runs scored plus eight stolen bases with the 31-23 Mighty Oaks. He amassed 14 assists (mostly from the outfield). After three seasons at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio (2019-21), the 2018 graduate of Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, Ind., transferred to Taylor University in Upland, Ind., for the fall of 2021 and wound up at NAIA member Oakland City for spring semester. He plans to return in the fall while changing his primary position. OCU head coach Andy Lasher wants to put him back in the infield in 2023 so Pinckert has been playing there this summer with the Ohio Valley League’s Muhlenburg (Ky.) County Stallions — recently at third base for a Mark Silva-managed team. He went to the outfield in the spring of 2022 since the Mighty Oaks had three fifth-year seniors in the infield. Sam, who turns 22 on June 20, is the only child of Dennis and Mona Pinckert of Santa Claus, Ind. Dennis Pinckert works for a cabinet manufacturer. Mona Pinckert is heading into an accounting job with a trucking company. It’s about 40 miles from Santa Claus Oakland City, making it easier for them to attend Sam’s games. Besides his parents, Sam Pinckert considers two men named Andy — Heritage Hills coach Andy Fischer and Oakland City coach Andy Lasher — as mentors. “Coach Fischer is probably the most personable head coach I’ve ever had,” says Pinckert. “He had personality and a relationship with the players. As a teacher, he would have them in class and see them throughout the day. “(Lasher) keeps me level-headed big time. He slows me down and works me through everything.” His college coach also keeps tabs on Pinckert the person, calling him once or twice a week to check up on him. “I can talk with him about anything,” says Pinckert of Lasher. Speed and strength are two qualities that have served Sam well on the diamond. “I’m just a compact athlete,” says the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Pinckert. “I just use my strength in certain ways. I have power though I’m a smaller guy.” Another plus for Pinckert is the mental side. “I just know the game very well,” says Pinckert, who is pursuing a Sport Management degree with a minor in Coaching. Righty-swinging Pinckert describes his approach to hitting. “I’m looking for a ball on the outer half and I’m trying to take it out to in,” says Pinckert. “I want to take the ball to right or right-center.” Pinckert was born in Evansville and grew up in Santa Claus. “Travel ball is really what got me going in baseball and got me a step ahead,” says Pinckert, who has donned the jerseys of the Spikes, Ironmen, Kentuckiana Elite, Avon Hurricanes and Outlaws. Kentuckiana Elite featured many future college players, including Castle High School graduate Brodey Heaton at Belmont University and Paducah Tilghman High School alum Jackson Fristoe at Mississippi State University. Pinckert’s last travel ball stop was with the A.J. Curtis-coached Outlaws. He was with the Avon Hurricanes the summer after high school graduation and Rockport American Legion Post 254 in the summer of 2019. He broke his hand during the regional final against Floyds Knobs Post 44 and and still went on a designated hitter wearing a cast on his right hand. In high school, Pinckert was on the cross country and swim teams and played four years of varsity baseball — three for Greg Gogel and one for Fischer. “He was a very competitive guy,” says Pinckert of Gogel. “We always kind of piggybacked off of that. “He knew what he was talking about.” Pincer was mostly a pitcher for the Patriots as a sophomore and junior and was a utility player as a senior, earning the Cy Young Award for pitching and also playing third base and second base. Through National Scouting Report (NSR), Pinckert went to a camp and was offered a roster spot by then-Muskies assistant and recruiting coordinator Mike Mulvey at NCAA Division III Muskingum. He started every game at shortstop for head coach Gregg Thompson as a freshman in 2019, hitting .282 (33-of-117). A torn labrum and the COVID-19 pandemic limited him to five games in 2020. Still recovering from injury, he saw action in just 12 contests in 2021. Pinckert took batting practice and did not play for a team in the summer of 2020. In 2021, he was with the OVL’s Vic Evans-managed Owensboro (Ky.) RiverDawgs.
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
Braden Scott enjoyed the best outing of his young professional baseball pitching career in his most-recent start for the Evansville (Ind.) Otters. On July 24 at Gateway, the left-hander went 7 2/3 shutout innings, fanning seven, walking two and giving up three hits in 29 batters faced and was selected as independent Frontier League Pitcher of the Week. Through six starts and 34 innings, Scott is 3-2 with a 2.91 earned run average. “It’s been a really good experience,” says Scott, who finished his collegiate career in the spring at Indiana University. Scott signed with the Otters on June 21. In his first appearance June 24 at Joliet, he tossed seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks. He faced 26 batters and gave up two hits. Scott, 23, moved to 2-0 as he won again on July 1 in the first game of a home doubleheader against against Florence. He fanned five and walked one while yielding six hits in the game’s first six innings. He faced 23 hitters. On July 6, Scott (2-1) took the loss in a game at historic Bosse Field against Joliet. He pitched six innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in 24 batters faced. Scott went just four innings and took the loss in the second game of a July 11 doubleheader against visiting Schaumburg. He struck out four, walked one and gave up six runs and seven hits while facing 21 batters. In a no-decision July 17 against visiting Southern Illinois, Scott hurled 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts, five walks and gave up three hits and one run in facing 18 batters. Scott’s first pro team is guided by Andy McCauley, who recorded his 1,000th career managerial victory July 2 at Gateway. “He’s been around the game a long time and he knows what he’s doing,” says Scott of McCauley. “I like the way he treats us — like professionals. “You come in and get your stuff done.” Evansville pitching coach Max Peterson has also aided the 6-foot-3, 215-pound southpaw with approach and execution. “He’s helped me mentally on the mound and with how I have to carry myself,” says Scott. “I’ve thrown a cutter for two years, but I never threw it consistently. “Now it’s a big go-to pitch. I’m able to use it for my game now.” When thrown correctly, the cutter has more horizontal than vertical break and goes into a right-handed batter and away from a lefty. Throwing from the left side has always been an advantage for Scott. “I’ve never thrown a ball that’s been exactly straight,” says Scott. “I’ve been able to miss a lot of barrels and not give up a lot of hard hits.” Scott has five pitches — four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, change-up and cutter. His four-seam sits at 88 to 90 mph. The slider is more a hybrid between a slider and curve. “In my last start I was almost solely throwing fastballs and sliders,” says Scott. “I threw maybe four cutters.” Scott employs a “circle” change. As part of the Otters’ five-man starting rotation, Scott competes every fifth or sixth day. His next start is scheduled Friday, July 30 against Southern Illinois at Bosse Field. On the day after a start, Scott does some throwing and gets in an aggressive cardio session to get the blood flow going. He is also charting that night’s pitchers. He throws a bullpen two days before his next start. A day before a start, the lefty gets in a workout with movement and stretching and some light long toss — maybe 150 feet. He then sits in the bullpen and watches how pitchers attack hitters and looks for batter tendencies. A 2016 graduate of Shakamak Junior-Senior High School in Jasonville, Ind., Scott played two seasons at Olney (Ill.) Central College (2017-18) and three at Indiana (2019-21). Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chip Sweet and Todd Gambill were his head coaches at Shakamak. Scott was on varsity for three years. “He was awesome,” says Scott of Sweet. “I grew up with his daughter (Mariah). We won (an IHSAA Class 1A) state championship in his final year of coaching (2014). “He taught me how to carry myself on and off the baseball field.” Gambill took the Lakers back to the state title game in 2015 (finishing as runner-up) — this time at the 2A level. “He did an awesome job,” says Scott of Gambill. Scott was a pinch hitter in the 2014 1A title game and started at first base in the 2015 2A final. Scott played for Blue Knights head coach Dennis Conley and assistants Andy Lasher and Bryce Labhart at Olney Central. Conley doubled as head coach and pitching coach. “Conley made a pretty big impact on my baseball career,” says Scott. “He still helps me. “He’s the reason I’ve got this position at Evansville. He’s been around the game long enough that he knows just about everybody out there.” Jeff Mercer is the Hoosiers head coach and Justin Parker was the pitching coach at IU until taking that role at the University of South Carolina in recent weeks. “(Mercer) is a phenomenal coach,” says Scott. “His main goal is player development. (Parker) is very good job of player development as well. “I wish (Mercer) all the best and hope the program keeps trending in the right direction.” Scott made 39 appearances (all in relief) for the Hoosiers, going 4-0 with one save and 3.25 earned run average. He produced 81 strikeouts and 21 walks in 55 1/3 innings. In 2021, he got into 15 games and was 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA. He whiffed 28 and walked eight in 17 2/3 innings. He also earned his Sports Marketing & Management degree. A starter at Olney Central, Scott was used mostly in relief during his last years of summer ball. Scott played for the M.I.N.K. Collegiate Baseball League’s Ozark Generals (Springfield, Mo.) and the Prospect League’s Tyler Wampler-coached Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex in the summer of 2017. He was with the Northwoods League’s Willmar (Minn.) Stingers then the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association National Team that placed second at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., in 2018. Scott played for the Coastal Plain League’s Morehead City (N.C.) Marlins in 2019 and CPL’s Macon (Ga.) Bacon in 2020. Among his Bacon teammates were fellow IU pitchers Connor Manous, Ty Bothwell, Matt Litwicki and Brayden Tucker. Before landing with the Otters, Scott pitched for the 2021 Rex, coached by A.J. Reed. Braden is the son of Jimmie Scott and Andee Mullins. Younger siblings include Bailey Scott (21) and Kaleb Gadberry (18). Both parents were athletes at Sullivan (Ind.) High School. Bailey Scott was involved in volleyball, cheerleading and track at Shakamak and is now a nursing student at Ivy Tech in Terre Haute. Caleb Gadberry played golf at Shakamak, where he graduated in 2021.
Philip Archer plays baseball with the words of his father — Leslie Archer — ringing in his ears.
Granted an extra year of college eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Archer has had hits ringing off his bat in 2021 as a powerful puncher in the Southern Illinois University lineup.
“It’s certainly a blessing to extend your career one more year,” says Archer, a 2016 graduate of Floyd Central High School in Floyds Knobs, Ind., in his fifth college diamond season. “I need to play until I can’t play no more because one day I’m going to be done and enter the real world.
“I will not be a kid anymore.”
As Archer and the Salukis (33-15) enter a Missouri Valley Conference series at Indiana State May 14-16, the lefty-swinging first baseman is hitting .324 (60-of-185) with nine home runs, 16 doubles, 49 runs batted in, 40 runs scored and .965 OPS (.408 on-base percentage plus .557 slugging average).
The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder has produced 13 multi-hit games, including four against Mercer Feb. 26, Southeast Missouri March 24 and Austin Peay April 6.
In three seasons at SIU-Carbondale covering 114 games (112 starts), Archer is hitting .302 (127-of-421) with 16 homers, 26 doubles, 94 RBIs, 84 runs and an .869 OPS (.382 on-base percentage plus .487 slugging average).
He was at Olney (Ill.) Central College in 2017 and 2018 and hit .341 (120-of-351) with 15 homers, 29 doubles, 102 RBIs and 82 runs and an .950 OPS (.397 on-base percentage plus .553 slugging percentage).
What’s Archer’s secret sauce?
“Discipline, hard work and having good coaches and people around me,” says Archer. “With our lineup this whole year, we’ve got a lot of guys swinging it well.”
Archer often bats in the No. 5 or No. 6 hole in SIU head coach Lance Rhodes’ batting order.
Besides input from Rhodes, Archer also works closely with staffers Brett Peel (hitting coach), Ben Brewer (volunteer) and Kirby McGuire (director of player development).
“Power hitter — that’s my main role on the team,” says Archer. “I’m there to knock in some RBI’s and make some things happen.”
Saluki hitters receive a detailed scouting report before every game.
It tells them the pitches and tendencies of opposing pitchers.
“If lefty is busting me in, it’s different than a righty living on the outer half,” says Archer.
Archer, who turns 23 on May 28, was born in Indianapolis but grew up in Greenville, Ind.
At Floyd Central, Archer played for Highlanders head coach Casey LaDuke.
Casey is a great guy and a great coach,” says Archer. “He’s done a great job with the program and the facilities.
“Learning from him at a young age was huge for me with his elite-level practices.”
At Olney Central, Archer played for veteran Blue Knights head coach Dennis Conley.
With Conley’s success and demeanor, Archer likens him to Hall of Famer Augie Garrido.
“You can’t beat knowledge and experience of Dennis Conley,” says Archer. “He’s got it all.
“He’s calm when he needs to calm, but he’s got a fire.”
During his time at Olney, Archer was a Great Rivers Athletic Conference and National Junior College Athletic Association District 24 Player of the Year. The Blue Knights went 41-16 in 2017 and 42-16 in 2018.
T-Ray Fletcher, who was Oakland City head coach for 26 seasons, is still the school’s athletic director.
Since taking the job a few weeks ago, Lasher been concentrating on building up his roster.
“I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting though there are no games to watch,” says Lasher, referring to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic which has live baseball shut down at the moment. “There’s been a lot of calls and text messages.”
Lasher, who is tapping into his network of contacts, says he would like to have 35 players in the fall and 40 to 45 in the future so the Mighty Oaks can add a junior varsity program.
That takes care of half the schedule. Lasher has the opportunity to fill in the rest of the games, choosing ones that are feasible and keeps players from missing too many classes.
It’s Lasher’s intent to schedule some contests in the fall.
Lasher’s assistants are Jacob Bedwell and Austen Bullington. Washington (Ind.) High School graduate Bedwell was on the OCU team last year. Castle grad Bullington played at Wabash Valley College and the University of Tennessee-Martin.
Lasher was hired by Southern Indianalast summer and spent much of his time assisting Screaming Eagles head coach Tracy Achuleta with hitters and position players.
“I also kept track of academic progress and a lot of little things that don’t happen on the baseball field,” says Lasher. “That’s a much bigger percentage of the job than people realize.
“At the college level, it’s a lot more than the bats and balls. It’s a full-time job for a reason.
“(Archuleta) is one of my favorite people. He’s alot of fun to be around and a really good baseball mind. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
He was an assistant to Dennis Conley at Olney Central from the 2014 season until the fall of 2018.
“It was a really good experience I wouldn’t trade for the world,” says Lasher, who helped the Blue Knights win 173 games in five seasons.
An outfielder, Lasher played two seasons at Olney (2010 and 2011) for Conley and two at Evansville (2012 and 2013) for Wes Carroll.
Going to Castle, Lasher had heard all about alums Wes and brother Jamey Carroll (who played in the big leagues).
“(Wes Carroll) was a real good player’s coach,” says Lasher. “We had some good teams.”
The Purple Aces won 56 games in Lasher’s two seasons at UE. He played with five players — left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland (Colorado Rockies), lefty-swinging outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski (New York Mets), righty-batting Eric Stamets (Rockies), righty pitcher Kyle Lloyd (San Diego Padres) and lefty hurler Phillip Diehl (Rockies) — who eventually made it to the majors.
For five summers, Lasher was with the Bombers — 2014 as an assistant coach and 2015-18 as manager.
Lefty-hitting outfielder Johnson is now on the Cleveland Indians’ 40-man roster.
Brown is a catcher in the Atlanta Braves organization.
Lasher calls shortstop Gonzales, who was the 2019 NCAA Division I batting champion, the best player he’s ever coached and expects him to be taken about the top picks in the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
The atmosphere created by Dubois County ownership and fans at League Stadium made Lasher’s time with the Bombers very enjoyable.
“It’s a great place to watch a game,” says Lasher. “It’s a shame they’re not getting to do it this summer (due to COVID-19 causing cancelation of the Ohio Valley League season).”
Lasher graduated in 2009 from Castle, where he played for Curt Welch.
“He was very intense,” says Lasher of Welch, who has also been an assistant wrestling coach for the Knights. “We were probably in better shape physically as any team in the country.”
There was plenty of running and ab workouts.
“It was worth it,” says Welch. “No doubt about it. It got guys ready for the college stuff. You have to be mentally tough and physically in shape in college or you just aren’t going to make it.”
Besides head baseball coach, Lasher is also in charge of maintaining Oakland City athletic fields and is gameday coordinator for any on-campus sporting events. The Mighty Oaks sponsor teams in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis for men and women and softball and volleyball for women.
Lasher and girlfriend, former Orleans (Ind.) High School, Olney Central and Brescia University basketball player Shelbi Samsil, recently moved to the north side of Indianapolis to be closer to Oakland City.
Andy Lasher is the new head baseball coach at Oakland City (Ind.) University. He is a graduate of Castle High School in Newburgh, Ind., and played at Olney (Ill.) Central College and the University of Evansville. He has coached at Olney, Eastern Illinois University, the University of Southern Indiana and with the summer collegiate Dubois County Bombers. (Oakland City University Photo)
During his high school days, Jasper went 113-18 with three sectional crowns, two regional titles and two semistate championships. He was on the IHSBCA South All-Star squad in 2013. He was honorable mention all-state in 2012 (pitcher) and 2013 (second baseman).
Nick describes his prep days as “the worst/best four years of my life in terms of baseball.”
The baseball bar is set very high for the Jasper Wildcats.
“I was supposed to win four state championships in four years,” says Nick. “That was my mentality.
“I didn’t get special treatment.”
His junior year, he spent three periods during the school day with his father plus all the time on the baseball field. There were tense moments, but a lot of very good memories.
“I’m glad everything happened the way it did,” says Nick.
Terry and Caroline Gobert had five children. Sarah died of leukemia as a toddler. Maria just graduated from Indiana University in three years. Laura will graduate from Jasper this year and head to the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. Julia is in the Jasper Class of 2021.
Nick is the lone Gobert offspring currently pursuing coaching. Along the way, he got a taste for working with older players and recruiting and adjusted his vision to the college game and pursue it while he’s still young.
“I’ve been social distancing since I moved to Iowa,” says Gobert.
The coach who turns 26 on May 27 serves on a staff led by Matthew Torrez and coaches third base, helps with recruiting and instruction of infielders, outfielders and hitters and a little bit with pitchers.
After graduating from Jasper in 2013, Gobert played for Tony Vittorio at the University of Dayton in 2014 and 2015.
A torn labrum in 2016 ended his season and he was given a medical redshirt. He transferred to the Southern Indiana, where he played two seasons for Archuleta (2017 and 2018), earning honorable mention NCAA Division II All-American and first-team all-region and first-team all-conference selection in 2018 after batting .357., and served as graduate assistant in 2019. He is working toward as master’s degree in Sport Management.
Gobert chose Dayton, which went to an NCAA D-I regional in 2012, and Vittorio for the coach’s blue-collar approach.
“He was very tough-minded and very organized,” says Gobert. “He embraced being a mid-major college. He had a lot of passion for the game.
He was a fiery individual.”
When it came time to travel, Gobert knew the winning tradition at USI led by Archuleta.
“I knew a lot of guys who played for him and spoke highly of him,” says Gobert of the man who brought NCAA Division I national crowns to Southern Indiana in 2010 and 2014. “He had high expectations. Our end goal was being in Cary, N.C. and winning a national title.
“He was concerned for our well-being with tough love. He was easy to play for and he helped me grow and develop and also pursue my passion for coaching.”
In Torrez, Gobert sees a combination of Vittorio and Archuleta.
“He coaches with a lot of energy and likes to put the time in,” says Gobert. “In junior college, you get a lot of hands-on time (more than at NCAA or NAIA schools).
“I’ve learned a ton about the game from him, especially about pitching. I pick his brain quite a bit when it comes to his philosophies.”
Gobert says he and Torrez bring new school and old school together.
“I’ve got old-school roots,” says Gobert. “I’m old school in how we conduct our business.”
The new school comes into play with the use of biomechanics, kinesiology and technology.
“We bounce ideas off each other,” says Gobert.
Indian Hills played around 20 games in the fall of 2019. The COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic caused the 2020 spring season to be shut down after 15 contests. The Falcons never got to play a home game. A March 13 date at Des Moines Area Community College, where Indiana native Nic Mishler is head coach, ended up being the finale.
Since the shutdown, Indian Hills has been conducting classes online (the last day is Monday, May 11) and coaches have been helping a 2020 roster that includes out-of-state players from California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin as well international talent from Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela.
Gobert says Indian Hills is also hoping to build the brand by attracting more local players.
“We have a contact we go through,” says Gobert. “It’s much easier to communicate these days.
“We get hundreds of emails a week. People looking for a place to play.”
There are about three dozen players in the program right now. There could be as many as 50 in the fall.
Gobert says five are expected to come back for a third year (a measure allowed by the NJCAA because of COVID-19).
Some players are feeling out offers from four-year schools and deciding if they want to come or not.
It’s not just the 2020 class that has been granted an extra year, but so has 2021, 2022 and 2013.
“What a lot of people don’t understand how good this is going to be for junior college baseball,” says Gobert. “This is going to be an ongoing thing for three — maybe — four years.
“Depth will get even better and it will be more competitive than it is now.”
Gobert’s day-to-day routine has only changed in that he can’t visit or see players off-campus or have them visit the Indian Hills campus.
But he can still make calls, watch videos, do office work and maintain the baseball field.
And some day, he will again be able to build those relationships in-person.
Nick Gobert (left) and father Terry helped Jasper (Ind.) High School win 113 games in Nick’s four seasons playing for the Wildcats (2010-13). Nick is now an assistant coach at Indiana Hills Community College in Iowa. Terry, an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, has more than 800 wins, five state titles and three runner-up finishes as Jasper head coach. (Dubois County Herald Photo)
Nick Gobert, a graduate of Jasper (Ind.) High School and the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, played two baseball seasons at USI and served as a graduate assistant. He is now an assistant at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)
Nick Gobert, a graduate of Jasper (Ind.) High School and the University of Southern Indiana, is an assistant baseball coach at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa. (Indian Hills Community College Photo)
His first season leading the Screaming Eagles was 2007. Since then, USI has won nearly 500 games with a pair of NCAA Division II national championships (2010 and 2014).
Jeremy Kuester has been a part of much of it. The 2020 season — cut to 14 games by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic — was his 11th spring on the Southern Indiana coaching staff.
Kuester’s main responsibility?
“I make sure Coach Archuleta has everything in line,” says Kuester, who took the job in August 2009 after a playing career as an outfielder, first baseman and left-handed pitcher. “We both do everything. I work with pitchers 70 to 80 percent of the time. But he will go with the pitchers and I’ll go with the hitters.
“It’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes so we go back and forth — whatever we feel is most beneficial for the guys.”
Kuester has been asked many times what makes Archuleta a winner.
“What’s his secret sauce for success?,” says Kuester. “He connects with people really well. He can take a group of guys then pull the best out of each and every one of those guys.
“He’s a very intense, very driven individual with a lot of knowledge.”
Not that Archuleta won’t laugh on the diamond. He does like to do that on occasion.
“He knows when it’s time to joke around and time to be serious,” says Kuester.
“We make sure they’re aware of what they need to accomplish every single day,” says Kuester.
As recruiting coordinator, Kuester looks to bring as much talent to the program as possible.
He says the difference between D-II and D-I often comes down to depth. D-I tends to have more of it. Plus, D-I can give 11.7 scholarships per year and D-II can grant 9. Not fully-funded, USI tends to bestow between 6 and 7.
From a player’s’ perspective, he might also crack the lineup sooner at a D-II school.
“That’s biggest recruiting sell when going after junior college guys,” says Kuester. “Competition (for playing time) is less because the depth isn’t quite there.”
Kuester is not wishy-washy in his player evaluations.
“I’m not the kind of recruiter that leaves question marks,” says Kuester. “I’m blunt. I’m straight to the point. I tell them exactly what I think.”
The pandemic has made planning for the future less cut-and-dried.
When it looked like the season would be at least be put on hold, Southern Indiana (6-8) was coming off a pair of games in Pensacola, Fla. Coaches would try to sort through contingencies and scenarios, which seemed to change daily.
“Nobody was prepared for this,” says Kuester. “The hardest part for us is communicating things with our guys. They see things online before its official. Administrators don’t have the answers either.
“Finally, we (as coaches) decided to sit back and wait. It’s out of our control right now.”
Kuester says the majority of returning players were hoping to play summer baseball. With some leagues canceling (about 10 USI leagues were going to play in the Ohio Valley League), they have been looking for opportunities. Leagues are expected to form at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., and in Louisville.
“We want them to find some place where they can play the game a little bit,” says Kuester. “A lot of our guys have went and got jobs for the summer.”
Southern Indiana coaches have suggested for nearly 40 players to keep active and make the best of their situation.
“But we don’t know what they’ve done for the past two months,” says Kuester. “That’s the scariest thing. We want to make sure these guys are going to be healthy. It’s more risky for pitchers than position players.”
The last day of classes for USI was Wednesday, May 6. The term ended with weeks of online instruction.
“It’s not the easiest thing in the world,” says Kuester. “And I was only teaching one class this eight weeks.”
Besides coaching, Kuester is on the faculty and has taught introduction to kinesiology or an activity class (hiking, badminton etc.). He earned a masters degree in Public Administration from Southern Indiana in 2012.
Jeremy and Ashley Kuester were wed in September 2009. She is a nurse practitioner with in Evansville. The couple has three children — first-grader Bryce (7), kindergartener Alli (5) and Colton (3). At their Rockport house, built in 2017, internet access is spotty, making eLearning with Bryce a challenge.
Jeremy slowly downloads YouTube videos for his son to watch and helps him with his homework. When completed, they take a picture with the school-supplied iPad and upload it.
Jeremy’s father — Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Brian Kuester — is the Rebels head coach.
“I never thought about him as my dad,” says Jeremy of the time spent playing for Brian. “He never coached me growing up. Whatever the coach says is what you do. When we were on the field I called him Coach.
“It was coach-player relationship at home even during those four years.”
Baseball discussions did happen away from the diamond.
“He’s say you need to improve on this — not in a negative way, just trying to get better.”
Jeremy recalls his last high school game while teammates were sitting around and lamenting the end of the season.
“Dad gave me a big hug and said I’m proud of you,” says Jeremy. “I’ll never forget that.”
Brian Kuester and his father, Ivan, had also been assistant coaches at USI. That’s when Larry Shown was head coach.
Brian and Debbie Kuester’s four children are Jeremy, Shawn, Nathan and Katie. Shawn played baseball at the University of Evansville and Nathan at USI. Katie played softball at Olney Central College.
While 2020 was Lillipop’s 19th as KWC head coach, he was a young in the profession when Kuester played for him.
“You could tell was still trying to figure out how he was going to be as a coach,” says Kuester. “He’s done at real good job of maturing as a coach over the years.
“He’s a really good, genuine person.”
Kuester first met Lillpop when another South Spencer graduate played for the Panthers. Kuester opted to transfer there to continue being a two-way player.
He earned a Sports Studies degree from Kentucky Wesleyan.
The Kuester family of Rockport, Ind., includes father Jeremy, mother Ashley and (clockwise from left) Bryce, Alli and Colton. Jeremy Kuester is an assistant baseball coach and faculty member at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
University of Southern Indiana baseball assistant coach Jeremy Kuester (center) makes a mound visit. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)
Jeremy Kuester (center) has been on the University of Southern Indiana baseball coaching staff of Tracy Archuleta (left) since August 2009. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)
Jeremy Kuester has been an assistant baseball coach at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville since the 2010 season. He is also on the USI faculty and has a master’s degree from the school. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)