BY STEVE KRAH
Madison (Ind.) Consolidated High School baseball has adopted a motto for 2023: Fast, Focused and Free.
That’s how first-year head coach and alum Kyle Harsin wants his Cubs to play.
“I’m fortunate to have a team with nine seniors,” says Harsin, whose hiring became official in October 2022. “One of the knocks on my older group is they played uptight. They played to not make a mistake instead of just going out there and playing baseball.
“We want them to understand playing baseball is a privilege God’s given them. It’s a game. Go out there and have fun. Play free. Enjoy yourself.”
The motto was coined by assistant Ryan Mahoney (Madison Consolidated Class of 1999).
Harsin’s other varsity assistants are Joe Jenner (Class of 1999), Doc Boyd and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Gary O’Neal with Derek Wynn (Class of 2009) and Matt Black (who played high school and college ball in Oklahoma) leading the junior varsity squad.
Mike Modisett is the caretaker of Gary O’Neal Field, which was home to the 2019 IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series.
In recent years, the field has upgraded the press box and stands and leveled and re-sodded the playing surface.
“It’s a beautiful setting,” says Harsin. “It always has been — even before the improvements. The one thing I remember most from high school it’s a tough place to win as an opponent because we had such community turnout.
“When things were really going well in the ‘80s and ’90s it wouldn’t be uncommon for hundreds to come to the games and watch.
“It definitely gives the home team an extra gear.”
He is convince the home crowd added zip to his fastball.
Harsin went 13-0 as a pitcher in 1998 and was the starting pitcher for the South in Game 1 of the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series at Bosse Field in Evansville.
He began his collegiate career pitching a few innings for head coach Lelo Prado at the University of Louisville.
After a year, Harsin transferred as a medical redshirt to Hanover (Ind.) College and was a pitcher and right fielder for American Baseball Coaches Association and IHSBCA Hall of Famer Dr. Dick Naylor for four seasons.
“He was intense,” says Harsin of Naylor. “He was very demanding of us in regards to the important things like being on-time and performing under pressure.
“He got us ready for the real world where your boss is going to be demanding about your performance.”
Harsin, who won three baseball letters under O’Neal and graduated from the school in 1998, has been on the Madison coaching staff since the 2020 season taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He has also coached in the Madison Baseball Club travel organization since son Bodie Harsin (Class of 2025) was 8U and re-started the Madison American Legion Post 9 program. As a player, Harsin was with Post 9 for three summers.
O’Neal, who is a varsity assistant in 2023, made an impact on Harsin with his attention to fundamentals.
“He went over the fine details over and over again in practice,” says Harsin. “As a kid you don’t understand why you keep going over pick-off moves at first or how many rounds of soft toss we hit. Those are the minor details I learned from Coach O. You never know when it’s going to be the bottom of the seventh and something happens and we’ve already gone over this a hundred times.”
Did O’Neal teach Harsin how to whistle?
“You can hear that from about a mile away,” says Harsin. “He still has it. We’ve all tried. It’s funny. Now that I’m 43 years old, I’ve had people come up to me and claim that Coach was giving us signs through whistling. Certain whistle cadences meant bunt or steal.
“That was definitely not the case.”
Madison Consolidated (enrollment around 860) is an athletic independent, having left the Hoosier Hills Conference in 2020.
The Cubs are part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Charlestown, Corydon Central, North Harrison, Salem, Scottsburg and Silver Creek. Madison has won 22 sectional titles — the last in 2009. The Cubs won the 1999 3A state title. That team featured 1999 Indiana Mr. Baseball and future big league pitcher Bryan Bullington.
The 2023 season opener is scheduled for March 28 at North Harrison.
Madison has junior high baseball with seventh and eighth grade teams playing in the spring on Mike Modisett Field.
The Madison Baseball Club — aka the Madison Mudcats — fields teams from 8U to 13U/14U. Steve Sheets is the president of that organization.
“He and other people have put a lot of time into it,” says Harsin. “The players that come to the junior high and high school are noticeably different in terms of player development.”
Zach Forner (Madison Consolidated Class of 2021) is on the baseball team at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky.
Catcher Zander Vonch (Class of 2023) is committed to Indiana University Purdue University-Columbus. A few others are undecided about playing in college.
Harsin is national sales manager at Environmental Laboratories, Inc. (Madison) — a third-party laboratory for drinking water and waste water testing for EPA and Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Kyle and Amanda Harsin have three children — Taylor, Bodie and Annie.
Amanda Harsin is chancellor at Ivy Tech Madison. Taylor Harsin (Madison Consolidated Class of 2022) was a an all-conference volleyball player and tennis player at Madison is in now an English major in the Pre-Law program at the University of Alabama. Besides baseball, Bodie Harsin also plays tennis. Fifth grader Annie Harsin is into horseback riding, volleyball, tennis and theater.