By STEVE KRAH
They’re making baseball memories at a tiny school in southern Indiana.
Led by father and son co-coaches Brad and Alex Wiseman, the South Central (Elizabeth) Rebels have won the IHSAA Class 1A Shawe Memorial Sectional and are getting ready for the two-hour trek to the Loogootee Regional (South Central plays No. 9-ranked Tecumseh at 11 a.m., followed by Trinity Lutheran vs. No. 6 Barr-Reeve with the championship at 7:30 p.m.).
South Central spotted Borden four runs in the first two innings and trailed 6-2 after four frames in the sectional championship before winning 10-8 and earning a ride on the Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department’s truck when they got back from Madison to Harrison County.
“It’s a good memory for the boys — something they’ll never forget,” says Alex Wiseman, who played for the Rebels and graduated from South Central in 2012 before pitching for Hanover (Ind.) College. “South Central baseball is a tradition around here. Everybody knows about it.”
The team mugged for the championship photo wearing the green “Hank Strong” T-shirts that they donned in a benefit game for Hank Sutherland, a young boy in the community dealing with Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome.
Kim Wiseman enjoys being at the park about as much as husband Brad and son Alex.
“She’s the epitome of a baseball mom,” says Brad Wiseman. “Alex is 25 and baseball has been a part of our lives for 22 years.
“(Kim) is just as excited to see a Cincinnati Reds game or a T-ball game.”
Alex and wife Leslie have a son — Maverick (1).
Will the boy be a ballplayer?
While sitting for her grandson, Kim got a fat lip when a baseball was thrown harder than she anticipated.
The younger Wiseman has watched the South Central team develop a “grind-it-out mentality.”
The turning point in the season came May 7 at South Central’s Donald L. Dones Field. That’s when the Rebels rallied from a five-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning to edge Austin 10-9. The Eagles scored all nine runs in the first two innings.
“That opened the eyes of the boys,” says Alex Wiseman of the comeback against a team that will compete in Saturday’s 2A Southridge Regional. “It shows they can accomplish a lot.”
South Central (enrollment around 215) part of the South Harrison Community School Corporation, which also includes Corydon Central High School (3A).
The Rebels belong to the Southern Athletic Conference (with Borden, Crothersville, Henryville, Lanesville and New Washington).
The top three finishers in the 2019 SAC pennant race were Henryville (5-0), Lanesville (4-1) and South Central (3-2).
The Rebels are part of a sectional grouping with Borden, Christian Academy of Indiana, New Washington and Shawe Memorial.
Brad Wiseman, who was a South Central junior varsity coach from 2014-17 before being joined by Alex to lead the Rebels beginning with the 2018 season, saw the team take an 11-16 regular-season into the postseason before beating Christian Academy and Borden for the program’s seventh sectional title (all since 2005).
“We were very aggressive (about playing all scheduled contests),” says Brad Wiseman. “We knew we needed as much game experience as we could get to get us ready for this part of the season.”
“We really see the difference, especially in the sophomores,” says Alex Wiseman of the strong competition. “The game is coming a lot easier to them.”
Says Brad Wiseman, “We get overlooked because of our record. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
Various factors, including injuries, left South Central’s sophomore-heavy roster with 16 players and many junior varsity games were canceled.
The Rebels’ top pitchers are junior Zach Needler, sophomore Frank Goodman and seniors Wyatt Crosier, Bryce Lewis and Will Weber. All but Weber are right-handers.
Crosier, junior Austin Tyree and sophomores Wes Wilson and Stephen Sawicki are offensive leaders.
The Wisemans are assisted by Jeff Riley and Jeff Skaggs.
Dones Field has seen upgrades in the past decade and more are on the way. New dugouts and backstop fencing was added around 2010. Since then, the Rebels have gained an indoor hitting facility, turf was placed around home plate and new bullpens and more fencing is coming in the near future.
South Harrison Athletic Corporation (SHAC) is a feeder system, training players from age 4 through eighth grade in the Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken system.
The Wisemans maintain a relationship with junior high coaches to make sure those players are prepared for high school baseball. The younger boys are invited to serve as managers for the older ones and experience the culture.
Brad Wiseman is a 1986 graduate of Castle High School, where he played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Al Rabe.
“He was very insistent on the fine details,” says Brad Wiseman of Rabe. “You knew where you needed to be on the field at all times.”
Alex Wiseman’s coach at South Central was Nick Tremain (now head coach at Lawrenceburg).
“He was very much about the mental approach to the game,” says Alex Wiseman. “We played with a swagger. We expected to win. If you take that attitude, not a lot of teams are going to beat you.
“These are values we’ve tried to instill in the boys. Believe you can do it and you will get there if you put in the work.”
Work away from baseball happens in nearby Kentucky for both father and son. Brad Wiseman is a manager at Equian, a pre-bill medical recovery company. Alex Wiseman is a revenue analyst with Louisville Physicians Group.
Father and son co-coaches Brad (right) and Alex Wiseman celebrate an IHSAA sectional baseball championship for South Central (Elizabeth) Junior/Senior High School.
With co-coach Brad Wiseman toward the front, the South Central Rebels got to ride an Elizabeth (Ind.) Volunteer Fire Department truck after winning the 2019 IHSAA Shawe Memorial Sectional baseball title.
The South Central (Elizabeth) Junior/Senior High School Rebels won the 2019 IHSAA Shawe Memorial Sectional baseball title. The team is wearing its “Hank Strong” T-shirts in support of Hank Sutherland, a boy in their community dealing with Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome.