By STEVE KRAH
Evansville Christian School in Newburgh, Ind., is preparing for its first season of IHSAA tournament eligibility in 2022-23.
The Eagles’ program was started by Joe Paulin at the Cub (middle school) level in 2017.
There were three players on the day he was hired, including son Thomas Paulin. He was one of seven “Trailblazers” in the Class of 2022. The Eagles went 10-8 last spring.
Brandon Juarez (Class of 2022) became the program’s first college commitment, going to NCAA Division I University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
College baseball prospects include three from the Class of 2024 — shortstop/pitcher Josiah Dunham, left-handed pitcher Jaydon Gates and catcher Maddox Brenner.
Josiah Dunham, one of Indiana’s top prep basketball players (he averaged 26 points per game in 2021-22), is the brother of New York Yankees minor leaguer and former Indiana University player Elijah Dunham.
Evansville Christian athletic director Paul Dunham is the father of both Josiah and Elijah and has coached with Paulin at what is now Golfmoor Baseball Association (Dunham coached one team to within a game of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.) and Evansville Reitz High School.
Paulin’s Evansville Christian coaching staff includes Paul Dunham, Matt Brunton and Chris Pillow.
In the summer, Evansville Christian coaches guide Newburgh American Legion Post 44 teams with Paulin as manager. Both senior and junior squads have been state finalists the past two years.
Before ECS, Paulin was an assistant to Todd DeWeese at Reitz for five years.
A 1991 Reitz graduate, Paulin played three seasons for Steve Johnston. As a senior, he was a state champion in Speech and Debate before a short stint at Lincoln Trail College (Robinson, Ill.), playing for Tony Vittorio.
“He was an excellent coach,” says Paulin of Indianapolis native Vittorio. “He would take advantage of every minute of practice.”
During IHSAA Limited Contact Period practices twice a week this fall, Paulin overseen bullpen sessions.
“We’re trying to develop our younger guys and the pitching staff,” says Paulin, a Greater Evansville Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.
What’s Paulin’s “why”?
“The reason I began coaching was to be with my kids and their friends,” says Paulin, who recently celebrated 24 years of marriage to Cariann (the mom other baseball moms go to for answers) and has three sons (Cory, Joe Jr. and Thomas) and three daughters (Destiney, Candace and Jacklyn). Cory (28) is the oldest and Evansville Christian first grader Jacklyn (7) and youngest. “I have been blessed enough to be able to coach my daughter Candace and my sons Joe Jr. and Thomas for about 12 years (in baseball or basketball).
“As far as I’m concerned this has been the best years of my life and I have really enjoyed spending this time with them. It has been priceless.
“I’m a relationship guy. I try to get involved with (athlete’s) lives. High school players need that.”
Evansville Christian played its first high school season in 2018 and now has about 50 players for varsity, junior varsity and Cub squads.
Experiencing steady growth in recent years, ESC has an enrollment around 210 for high school, which will make them a Class 1A team for IHSAA tournament play.
It is a Pre-K-12 school. Its had elementary and middle school students for about 25 years and its first graduating class was 2020.
The Eagles won Southern Roads Conference titles in baseball in 2018 and 2019 and are now an athletic independent. The schedule includes mostly Indiana teams though they have played team from Illinois and Kentucky.
The Cub feeder program (Grades 7-8 with some sixth graders) plays a spring schedule but also some fall games. The team lost just twice this fall.
Evansville Christian plays its home games at Scott Township Baseball & Softball, located about 15 miles from the campus.
“Players make a commitment,” says Paulin.