BY STEVE KRAH
The 2019 regular season for the Fort Wayne (Ind.) South Side High School baseball team was one of many defeats while they went through and discovery and dealing with ailments.
When the Archers took aim at the Huntington North Sectional title, they hit the target.
South Side earned one win in Summit Athletic Conference play and finished last in that loop.
“We were struggling with injuries,” says first-year head coach Ryan Dellinger. “(Ace left-hander Xavier) Croxton had arm soreness most of the season and we shut him down then built him up the last couple weeks.
“Once we got healthy, we were in pretty good shape. We had to fill a lot of different positions and it took us forever to figure that out.”
But the Archers beat Huntington North 6-4 and Homestead 4-0 at Huntington University to win the program’s second straight sectional title and earned a spot in the IHSAA Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Regional at Loeb Stadium.
South Side takes on Hamilton Southeastern in the first game at 11 a.m. The HSE Royals are coached by Dellinger’s best friend, Jeremy Sassanella. The two played met and played together in the Fort Wayne men’s senior leagues.
The second regional semifinal pits Fort Wayne Carroll against Logansport. The final is slated for 8 p.m.
Fort Wayne South Side (enrollment around 1,400) is a member of the Summit Athletic Conference (with Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran, Fort Wayne North Side, Fort Wayne Northrop, Fort Wayne Snider, Fort Wayne Wayne and Homestead).
The Archers are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with North Side, Wayne, Homestead and Huntington North. South Side has won three sectional titles — 2012, 2018 and 2019.
Dellinger joined Sheldon Van Pelt’s South Side coaching staff for the 2018 season and the Archers won the Huntington North Sectional and lost to Carroll in the regional semifinals.
This season, Van Pelt is an assistant to Dellinger and 32 players were kept after tryouts to fill varsity and junior varsity squads. The South Side staff also features Will Coursen-Carr, who was 2012’s Indiana Mr. Baseball and the Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year while playing for the Archers and went on to pitch at Indiana University.
Dellinger credits Coursen-Carr for his role in helping South Side pitchers.
“He gets them to throw strikes,” says Dellinger. “He can relate well to the kids since he’s so young.”
Besides senior Croxton (a University of Saint Francis commit), the Archers are armed with senior right-hander Elias Perez (the winning pitcher vs. Homestead), junior right-hander Blaine McCrae and freshman left-hander Logan Weber.
The catalyst for South Side’s offense is senior shortstop and lead-off hitter Cole Hapner (an Ivy Tech Northeast commit).
The Archers play their home games at Bill Derbyshire Field, located at the old Elmhurst High School. Van Pelt got the idle facility back in playing condition during his time as head coach.
Dellinger is employed by the City of Fort Wayne taking care of athletic facilities, but much of the work at Derbyshire Field is handled by a Fort Wayne Community Schools worker assigned to the task.
A 1990 Concordia graduate, Dellinger played two years of baseball and then basketball for the Cadets.
Dellinger came to South Side from the world of travel baseball and he still coaches it in the summer. He was with the Strike Zone Spiders and AWP (Athletes With Purpose) and now the independent Summit City Spiders 15U team.
Ryan and Josie Dellinger have a daughter (Calah) and three sons (Addison, Zenden and Simon). Father and son got to compete against each other when South Side took on Snider, where Simon Dellinger is on the baseball team. A talented football player, he scheduled to play tight end next fall at West Point.
Fort Wayne (Ind.) South Side High School baseball coaches Ryan Dellinger, Sheldon Van Pelt and Will Coursen-Carr celebrate with the 2019 IHSAA Huntington North Sectional trophy.
The Fort Wayne (Ind.) South Side High School Archers won their second straight Huntington North Sectional baseball tournament and qualified for the Lafayette Jeff Regional.