Reese Sharp has thrown a baseball 97 mph. The right-handed hurler regularly tops 92. It was with added muscle that he increased his velocity and raised his profile in the game. “Strength has always been one of main qualities,” says Sharp, who plays for Indiana University and is with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer. “Being strong and explosive has helped me develop as a pitcher.” Born and raised in Hamilton County, Ind., Sharp began school in the Hamilton Heights system before moving to Noblesville early in his elementary years. He played baseball for three seasons at Noblesville High School and finished up his prep career at University High in nearby Carmel, Ind., where he helped the Chris Estep-coached Trailblazers to the 2019 IHSAA Class 1A state championship with 17 strikeouts in the title game against Washington Township. A rec ball player when his family lived in Cicero, Sharp began taking lessons from Estep at RoundTripper Sports Academy in Westfield at 9 and played for the travel organization led by Estep — the Indiana Mustangs — from 9U through the end of high school. It was at Noblesville that Sharp was introduced to serious strength and conditioning training by former Butler University pitcher Brian Clarke. Sharp credits Clarke not only for teaching him about weightlifting but the mental side, too. The Millers head S&C coordinator taught his athletes about E + R = O (Event plus Response equals Outcome). “Outcome doesn’t determine how you perform,” says Sharp. “It’s something I have taken with me throughout my career. It’s really helped. “The process is what’s most important. You can’t control the outcome.” Sharp has learned to pitch with a short memory and keep his composure even in the tightest jams. He doesn’t let it bother him when opponents and fans are chirping and he’s given up a big hit or multiple runs. “There’s nothing you can do about it now,” says Sharp. “You’ve got to go and execute the next pitch.” Sharp, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, redshirted as an IU freshman in 2020. In his two seasons with the Jeff Mercer-coached Hoosiers, he is 3-8 with a 5.86 earned run average in 34 appearances (33 as a reliever). In 66 innings, he has 90 strikeouts and 34 walks. All four of his saves came in 2022. Throwing from a high three-quarter arm angle, Sharp uses a four-seam fastball, “spike” curveball, slider and “circle” change-up. “My four-seamer — on a good day — is sitting about 92 to 94 and touching 95,” says Sharp. “I got it up to 97. “My curveball is 12-to-6. My slider has horizontal movement and is completely different than my curveball. It breaks away from righties and and into lefties. My change-up has a little big of tail, drop and depth to it. “Developing four-pitch mix, the goal in my mind is to be a starter. But whatever the team needs me to do to win I’m going to do that.” While in Bloomington, Sharp has worked with two pitching coaches — Justin Parker and Dustin Glant. “(Parker) is a really good mental coach,” says Sharp of the coach now at the University of South Carolina. “He’s very good at getting you prepared to compete and teaches pitchers how to be explosive off the mound. He’s one of the reasons I got a velocity jump in college (coming throwing 89 to 92 mph and touching 93 in the first couple bullpens). “(Current Indiana pitching coach Glant) is kind of like a pitching guru. He knows his stuff and is a really smart guy. He was with the Yankees and learned a lot of analytical stuff. He has brought that to IU. He helped me develop my slider. It’s become on of my main swing-and-miss pitches.” The CCBL season is in his second week. Sharp has pitched four innings. “There’s a really cool atmosphere here,” says Sharp. “We have one ‘off’ day a week. We use those to relax. Baseball can take a toll on your body.” While there has been no youth camps yet, Sharp says he enjoys sharing his baseball knowledge with youngsters and sees coaching in his future. Sharp did not play baseball in the summer of 2019. He went to IU, took summer classes and became familiar with the campus and the weight room there. He played with and competed against friends in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield in 2020. Last summer, Sharp was with the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Winnipesaukee Muskrats. A Sports Marketing and Management major, Sharp has two more semesters to complete his degree. Adam and Sophia Sharp have two children — Meme (25) and Reese (21). Adam Sharp is a long-time firefighter in Carmel. Sophia Sharp is a nurse. Meme Sharp-Machado is a Noblesville graduate who was a diver at the University of Pittsburgh.
Like many Indiana boys, Eric Riggs’ athletic focus growing up in Brownsburg, Ind., was basketball.
His father, David Riggs, was on the 1962 Evansville Bosse state championship team and earned a letter on the hardwood at the University of Evansville in 1966-67. The Purple Aces were NCAA Division II national champions in 1963-64 and 1964-65.
Playing Knights head coach Kirk Speraw, Riggs started in 22 of 30 games and averaged 11.4 points and 3.1 assists per game as a freshman in 1995-96. UMass and Marcus Camby knocked UCF out of the 1996 NCAA tournament.
Then Riggs turned his attention back to the diamond.
The switch-hitting infielder had played baseball at Brownsburg for head coach Wayne Johnson and assistants Craig Moore and Mick Thornton. Big league pitcher Jeff Fassero came in to help the Bulldogs during the off-season.
“(Johnson) was a players’ coach,” says Riggs. “We were pretty stacked in our senior class. We had a lot of guys play at the next level (including Brian Stayte, Mark Voll and Joel Martin).”
Junior Quinn Moore, youngest son of Craig, was the mound ace in 1995 and went on to play at the University of South Alabama.
During a basketball recruiting trip to the school near Orlando in the spring of 1995, Riggs met with UCF baseball coach Jay Bergman near the end of the program’s 29-game win streak.
“He was very positive,” says Riggs of Bergman. “Coach Moore had been in Coach Bergman’s ear to let me walk on.
“(Craig Moore) was very instrumental in my baseball career. I just kind of played it. Basketball was my first sport.”
“I had never played year-round baseball. I wanted to find out what that was like. I ended up getting a partial baseball scholarship.”
Before he knew it, Riggs was batting ninth and starting at second base at the NCAA D-I level.
From 1996-98, Riggs amassed a career average of .362 with 49 doubles and a .573 slugging percentage. As an all-Atlantic Sun Conference first-team shortstop in 1998, he hit .394 with 26 doubles, 154 total bases and 64 runs scored.
In the winter of 2000-01, Riggs played a few months in Queensland, Australia, before returning to the U.S. and the Dodgers. He was with that organization for eight years (1998-2004, 2006), getting as far as Triple-A in 2003, 2004 and 2006.
In three seasons, his roommate was David Ross (who went on to be a 14-year big league catcher and is now manager of the Chicago Cubs).
“He’s a natural leader,” says Riggs of Ross. “Being a catcher that was his state of mind. He managed the pitching staff well.
“He was just a solid baseball player. Once he got his chance (in the majors), he showed them what he could do as a catcher and hit a little bit.”
Riggs also played Double-A ball for the Houston Astros in 2005 and was briefly with the independent Schaumburg (Ill.) Flyers at the beginning of 2007 before finishing up his pro career that year in Double-A with the Miami Marlins.
In 10 seasons at all levels, Riggs played in 1,050 games (with 500 appearances at shortstop, 235 at second base and 216 at third base) and hit .264 with 78 homers, 217 doubles, 459 RBIs and slugging percentage of .406.
Steve Farley, then the Butler University head coach, brought Riggs on as a part-time volunteer coach in the spring of 2008.
“Steve gave me a chance to see what coaching at that level was like,” says Riggs. “He was a very, very smart baseball man. He was great to learn from and watch work.
“I had a blast.”
Riggs also had the opportunity to pick the baseball brain of Butler assistant Matt Tyner, who had played the University of Miami (Fla.) for Ron Fraser and in the Baltimore Orioles system. After Butler, Tyner was head coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., a University of Richmond (Va.) assistant and head coach at Towson (Md.) State University.
With a change in his full-time job in 2009, Riggs changed his focus to coaching his sons. Eric and wife Trisha have four sons. Bryce (16) is a sophomore at Noblesville (Ind.) High School. Twins Blake (13) and Brooks (13) are seventh graders at Noblesville West Middle School. Beckett (8) is a third grader at Noble Crossing Elementary School.
The three oldest Riggs boys have had their father as a coach with the Indiana Bulls. Eric was an assistant with Bulls teams Bryce played on from age 8 to eighth grade and he is now head coach of the 13U White team as well as a board of directors member. The 12-player roster (pitcher-only players become a thing in the high school years) includes Blake and Brooks.
The team played in two fall tournaments and plans to ramp up preparation for the 2021 season of 11 tournaments with 50 or more games in January. His assistants include Brandon Inge, J.J. Beard and Kyle Smith. Former MLB third baseman/catcher Inge (Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics and Pittsburgh Pirates) go back to their Cape Cod Baseball League days in college with 1997 Bourne Braves.
Kevin O’Sullivan (who went on to coach the 2017 national championship team at the University of Florida) was the Bourne head coach. The ace of the pitching staff was left-hander Mark Mulder, who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1998 MLB Draft and went on to win 103 games in nine Major League Baseball seasons with the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.
When he can, Eric also helps coach the Noblesville Millers travel team that includes Beckett.
“I’m using what I’ve learned from players and coaches I’ve been around,” says Riggs. “I want to pass that to kids to make them better people and baseball players.”
Riggs, 44, is also a sales pro for BSN Sports with college and high school clients. He says uniform trends at the high school level tend to revolve around what catches a coach’s eye on the college scene. If they like the Vanderbilt look, they may wish to replicate in their school colors.
Having already invested in three years at Army, the 2016 Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School graduate opted not to sign and resumed his regimented activities at the United States Military Academy while also sharing the field with some of the nation’s top players.
Hurtubise made a visit to West Point in mid-July of 2015. By month’s end, he had committed to Army, fulfilling his dreams of playing NCAA Division I baseball and pursuing a first-rate education and improving himself in the areas of hard work, patience and discipline.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time up here,” says Hurtubise, who is a operations research (applied mathematics) major and a center fielder for the Jim Foster-coached Black Knights. “It’s the relationships you form off the field with guys on the baseball team. You form strong bonds through military training.
“I want to make sure I am as prepared as possible for the future. It’s a degree people don’t look past.”
On the diamond, Hurtubise has gone from hitting .238 with two doubles, nine runs batted in, 32 runs scored, 22 walks and 18 stolen bases while starting 41 times as a freshman in 2017 breaking Army’s single-season steals and walks records with 42 and 50, respectively, in 2018. His 42 swipes led NCAA Division I.
That sophomore season, Hurtubise also set a single-game mark with six stolen bases against Bucknell and was named all-Patriot League first team with two Patriot Player of the Week honors and a place on and all-academic team. He hit .278 with four doubles 22 RBIs, 56 runs in 61 starts (a school record for games played in a season).
In 2019, the lefty-swinging junior batted .375 with four triples, six two-baggers, 26 RBIs, 71 runs, 69 walks and 45 stolen bases (ranked third in NCAA D-I). His on-base percentage was .541.
In 21 games, Hurtubise hit .313 (20-of-64) with one triple, three doubles, two RBIs, 12 walks and six stolen bases. His on-base percentage was .429.
“I got more exposure and more consistent at-bats,” says Hurtubise of Orleans. “I faced some of the country’s best pitchers day in and day out.”
Hurtubise worked out each day on the Cape, but also found some time to go to the beach and hang out with his family, who he had not seen since January.
Jacob, 21, is the youngest son of Francois and Lisa Hurtubise. His older brother, Alec, is 24.
Many other players with ties to Indiana competed on the Cape this summer.
Right-handed pitcher Kyle Nicolas (who completed his sophomore season for Ball State University in 2019) helped the Cotuit Kettleers to the title, saving two games in the playoffs. During the regular season, the Massillon, Ohio, resident went 1-2 with four saves, a 6.28 ERA, 31 strikeouts and 21 walks in 24 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Bo Hofstra and left-hander Matt Moore also pitched for Cotuit. Hofstra wrapped his sophomore year and Moore his redshirt sophomore season at Purdue University in 2019.
Lefty swinger and Penn High School graduate Kavadas hit .252 with nine homers, six doubles and 30 RBIs during the regular season.
Boyle went 1-2 with, two saves a 1.92 ERA, 28 K’s and 12 walks in 14 regular-season frames. The 6-foot-7 hurler from Goshen, Ky., also saved one game in the playoffs.
Third baseman Riley Tirotta was also with Harwich. Coming off his sophomore season at the University of Dayton, the South Bend St. Joseph graduate hit .222 from the right side with 0 homers, two doubles and one RBI during the regular season.
Righty swinger Poland hit .271 with 0 homers, four doubles and seven RBIs and also went 3-1 with a 3.37 ERA, 18 K’s and four walks in 10 2/3 regular-season innings for the Bourne Braves. He was 1-0 during the playoffs.
Lefty batter Britton hit .286 with five homers, six doubles and 19 RBIs during the regular season for the Orleans Firebirds.
After finishing at West Point and completing officer training school, Hurtubise must serve two years as active military. It’s possible that if he goes into professional baseball that he can do it through the world-class athlete program and be a promotional tool while he is paid ballplayer.
Moore says Chad Garisek, a Zionsville junior in 2016, is hoping to play at Indiana University-Kokomo. Senior Nolan Elsbury went on to be a student at Purdue. Senior Stephen Damm is a student at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis and a member of Moore’s Zionsville coaching staff.
Hurtubise is now back at West Point going through organization week. The first day of class is Monday, Aug. 19. He will also be preparing for his final baseball season with the Black Knights.
Army left-handed hitter and center fielder Jacob Hurtubise was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2019, but opted to go back to the United States Military Academy for his final year. He is a graduate of Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School. (Army West Point Athletics Photo)
Through three seasons (2017-19), Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School graduate has 101 stolen bases for the Army Black Knights. He paced NCAA Division I with 42 in 2018 and was third with 45 in 2019. (Army West Point Athletics Photo)
Jacob Hurtubise hit .375 with four triples, six two-baggers, 26 RBIs, 71 runs, 69 walks and 45 stolen bases (ranked third in NCAA D-I) for Army in 2019. The on-base percentage for the graduate of Zionsville (Ind.) Community High school was .541. (Army West Point Athletics Photo)
With his speed and batting eye, Jacob Hurtubise has been a threat at the top of the order for the Black Knights of Army baseball since 2017. (Army West Point Athletics Photo)
Jacob Hurtubise, a 2016 Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School graduate, played his third season of NCAA Division I baseball at Army in 2019 and was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He opted to stay in school and played in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer. (Army West Point Athletics Photo)
Gaining confidence and maturity have gone a long way in helping Austin Conway along his baseball journey, which has taken him into professional baseball as a right-handed pitcher in the Chicago White Sox organization.
Conway played for head coach Terry Summers at Delta High School near Muncie, Ind., where he graduated in 2013.
“He taught you how to carry yourself on the field and have a lot of composure,” says Conway of Summers. “I was very immature as a freshman. I had a lot of growing up to do. Having him around really helped.”
“I was very raw coming out of high school,” says Conway. “I lacked at knowing the game. (Hannahs) was hard on me. But he wanted to get the most out of me.
“He helped me with the mental side. He made me grow up and become a much better baseball player.
Conway learned that college baseball moves at a faster clip than high school.
“(Hannahs) would take me to the side and slow me down,” says Conway. “He gave me tough love when I needed that, too.”
Conway figured out how to understand and control situations. He would figure out what was working for him that day and what was not.
He found out that sometimes the situation calls for finesse.
“You can’t blow it by everybody,” says Conway, 23.
Tiegs came on board for Conway’s sophomore season.
“He helped me on the confidence side,” says Conway of Tiegs. “The first bullpen he saw, I threw was really good. He was very relatable, easy to trust and get close to.
“He was really big on the health and mechanics side of pitching.”
Tiegs, who pitched at Sauk Valley Community College and the College of Charleston, implemented a weighted ball program/velocity program that helped develop mechanics and velocity.
Conway took to it and saw results.
“I started pounding the zone more,” says Conway, who played four seasons for ISU (2014-17) with the 2016 season shortened to six appearances and 15 2/3 innings because of a shoulder injury. He received a medical redshirt for the year.
The righty came back in 2017 and was named second team all-Missouri Valley Conference after going 2-1 with 12 saves, a 2.97 earned run average, 35 strikeouts and 11 walks over 33 1/3 innings and 28 appearances (all in relief). When he was done at ISU, he ranked No. 2 on the career saves list with 20.
When Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft offers did not meet Conway’s standards, he though he was done with baseball.
Juggling law school and baseball, Conway posted a 3-1 record with two saves, a 2.21 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 17 walks in 24 innings and 20 appearances (all out of the bullpen) in 2018.
“It was incredible,” says Conway of his U of L experience. “It’s one of the best programs with one of the best head coaches in the country.
“(McDonnell) expects so much from his players and coaches. He’s very demanding.
“But he’ll respect you, if you respect him.”
Louisville pitching coach Roger Williams did not try to change much about the well-established Conway.
“He was more hands off with me as a fifth-year guy,” says Conway. “It was cool to see how he operated with the young guys.
“(With all pitchers,) he made sure the confidence was there.”
Conway was getting his four-seam fastball up to 95 mph with the Cardinals and regularly sat at 91 to 95. In pro ball, he was at 90 to 93. Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, he also employs a “circle” change-up and “spiked” curveball (which looks more like a slurve).
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder was a combined 8-6 with two saves and a 3.00 ERA. In 46 games (all in relief) and 71 1/3 innings, he struck out 64 and walked 28.
Comparing NCAA Division I to rookie-level pro baseball, Conway saw parallels in talent. Though the minors is sprinkled with raw Latin players with loads of potential.
A double major in criminal justice and political science/legal studies at ISU, Conway completed his first year of law school at the U of L. He says his law studies will be on hold while he is pursuing his baseball career.
Born in Muncie, Conway played his early baseball around Albany, Ind., and Middletown, Ind. He was on the Shenandoah all-star team.
Austin’s father (Steve Conway) lives in Albany. His mother and stepfather (Brooke and James Runyon) are in Rockford, Ill. He has two stepbrothers (Jeff Dobbs and Josh Dunsmore) a half-brother (Dustin Runyon) and half-sister (Caitlin Runyon).
Using some of the exercises he learned from Tiegs at Indiana State, Austin plans to split time between Illinois and Indiana while working out and getting his arm ready to go to spring training in Arizona in early March.
Austin Conway pitched at Indiana State University from 2014-17. (Indiana State University Photo)
Austin Conway pitched at the University of Louisville in 2018. (University of Louisville Photo)
Juggling law school and baseball, Delta High School graduate Austin Conway posted a 3-1 record with two saves, a 2.21 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 17 walks in 24 innings and 20 appearances (all out of the bullpen) in 2018. (University of Louisville Photo)
Austin Conway, a graduate of Delta High School near Muncie, Ind., and Indiana State University in Terre Haute, played one season at the University of Louisville and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2018. (Great Falls Voyagers Photo)
Rogers was advised by Chris McIntyre to focus on the mental side of the game and things he can control and not to worry about those he can’t.
“It’s stuck with me,” says Rogers, who counts McIntyre as a good friend. “It’s like wanting to move up the ladder in the Yankees organization. I had been playing well in Tampa for so long.”
But Rogers knows that is the Yankees’ call.
After going 4-3 in eight starts with a 2.22 earned run average, 51 strikeouts and eight walks in 52 2/3 innings with the High Class-A Tampa Yankees (recently renamed the Tarpons), the southpaw starter did get the call in late May of 2017 to advance to the Double-A Trenton Thunder.
Before a bone spur ended his season on June 28, Rogers went 4-2 in seven starts with a 4.62 ERA, 29 K’s and eight walks in 39 innings.
“It’s been a long off-season for me,” says Rogers, who has been working out at the Katy Hearn Gym in New Albany and resumed throwing about three weeks ago in preparation for a Jan. 12 arrival at spring camp in Tampa. “I’m definitely going early. I’m comfortable with the Yankees staff. I hope to get an invite to big league camp this year.”
As a youngster, Rogers played in the New Albany Little League. Prior to his days at New Albany High School, his team came within one win of going to the Little league World Series in Williamsport, Pa., losing in the finals of the 2007 Great Lakes Regional.
For the next three summers, he played for the Indiana Prospects elite travel ball organization.
As a New Albany High Bulldog, he went 24-2 with a 1.07 ERA and 259 strikeouts.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” says Rogers, who wound up having Tommy John reconstructive surgery. He graduated from New Albany June 2 and enrolled in summer school at Louisville the next day. He worked out twice a day and rehabbed his arm.
“It was a real grind,” says Rogers. “But it paid off. I came back sooner than we expected.”
The 6-foot-3 lefty was able to pitch for the Cardinals about a month into the 2014 season. He made 14 mound appearances (nine starts) and went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 12 walks in 52 innings.
“That’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” says Rogers, who was a combined 4-1 in nine starts with a 3.60 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 18 walks in 45 1/3 innings in 2014 and 2015. “The best players in college baseball are all in that league.”
Rogers earned second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors and his second all-Louisville Regional selection in 2015, going 8-1 in 16 starts with a 3.36 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 25 walks in 93 2/3 innings.
Rogers credits McDonnell for his leadership and getting him ready for the challenge of pro baseball.
“It’s impressive the way he lives his life,” says Rogers of McDonnell. “He takes advantage of every single minute to make people better.
“When you go to the University of Louisville, you know what you’re getting into. It’s not an easy journey. You’ve got to earn that playing time.
“You also learn how to eat right, work out right and sleep right. These are things that have gone a long way into helping me with my career to this point.”
Rogers retired many a high school hitter with his breaking ball. In college, Williams convinced him that was not the way to go at higher levels.
“He’s the No. 1 reason I chose the University of Louisville,” says Rogers of Williams. “Hitters were at such a disadvantage when I threw a curve in high school. I thought that would carry over to college or professional baseball. (Williams taught me) a well-located fastball is the best pitch in baseball. Coach Williams really taught me how to pitch.”
Rogers split the 2015 season with the short-season Staten Island Yankees and Low Class-A Charlestown (S.C.) RiverDogs then 2016 with Charleston and Tampa. In those first two pro seasons, he went 14-6 in 29 appearances (24 starts) with a 2.71 ERA, 131 strikeouts and 25 walks in 139 2/3 innings.
Josh (23) is he oldest child in a family of five. Bobby and Eldora also have Haley (21) and Chase (12). The family was able to watch Josh pitch in-person plenty when he was at Louisville and they have gotten to see him a few times in each of his pro seasons.
Rogers is 38 credits shy of a sport administration degree at Louisville.
“I promised my parents and Coach Mac that I will get my degree,” says Rogers. “I’ll keep chipping away at it.”
Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Rogers looks to command his pitch selection of fastball (thrown as a four- or two-seamer or cutter), slider and change-up. When he was moved up to Double-A, he was convinced to throw the fastball even more frequently — maybe 65 percent of the time.
Rogers spent many an hour in the bullpen with Tampa pitching coach Tim Norton learning to develop the change-up and making mechanical delivery tweaks. The two also battled it out on the golf course.
“It’s a pretty cool relationship,” says Rogers. “You don’t call them ‘Coach’ in pro ball, just their name.”
While the Yankees certainly take an interest in the development of a player, he knows the responsibility ultimately lies with that player.
“It’s your career,” says Rogers. “If you’re not ready and slacking, it’s up to you.
“The Yankees do a lot of job of giving people equal opportunity. It just may take longer to someone that is a higher draft pick that they’ve given more money to.
If you control what you can control and focus on helping your team win every time out, the chips will fall where they’re supposed to.”
Josh Rogers, a 2013 New Albany High School graduate who pitched two seasons at the University of Louisville and was drafted in 2015 by the New York Yankees, delivers a pitch in 2017 for the Double-A Trenton Thunder. (Trenton Thunder Photo)