Corey Van Skyock, who was officially named head baseball coach at Centerville (Ind.) Senior High School Sept. 28, was an assistant to John Cate at Richmond back in the early 1990’s. Cate went into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1997 and the RHS Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018. His baseball teams won 285 games, 12 sectionals and eight regionals and made a pair of Final Four appearances during two different stints from 1986-2008. “Most of my coaching styles and beliefs come from Coach Cate,” says Van Skyock, who held his first team call-out meeting Sept. 30. “Work hard. Period. Prepare. “The more that you can prepare and work hard the simpler games become.” Cate also taught his players about field maintenance and Van Skyock plans to pass those lessons along at Centerville. Van Skyock went from Richmond to a three-year stint as New Castle head coach. Two of his Trojans — Wes Ireton (Miami of Ohio) and Ben Smith (Indiana State) — went on to pitch at the NCAA Division I level. Van Skyock, who earned a Secondary Education/English at Indiana University in Bloomington, spent 19 years as a teacher and/or administrator. Later on, he coached at the youth and travel levels. Corey and wife Christy Van Skyock — a financial services/insurance sales veteran — have three sons — Oran, Gaven and Arian. Oran Van Skyock (Class of the 2019) and Gaven Van Skyock (Class of 2021) played baseball at Centerville. Arian Van Skyock (Class of 2026) is planning to take the diamond for the Bulldogs. Centerville — led for 10 seasons by Tracey Crull — is coming off a 2022 season in which the Bulldogs were 21-6 and IHSAA Class 2A state runners-up. Illiana Christian beat Centerville in the championship game. Eight of the players playing for the Bulldogs that day were seniors — Logan Drook, Kasen Duncan, Devin Frazier, Jamari Pamplin, Javontae Pamplin, Bryce Robertson, Keegan Schlotterbeck and Zach Thompson. Juniors included Collin Clark, Jacob Crowe and Alex Wandersee plus sophomores Kollyn Peed and Colton Rinehart. Centerville (enrollment around 550) is a member of the Tri-Eastern Conference (with Cambridge City Lincoln, Hagerstown, Knightstown, Northeastern, Tri, Union City, Union County and Winchester). The Bulldogs were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2022 with Hagerstown, Northeastern, Shenandoah and Union County. Including 2021 and 2022, Centerville has won nine sectional titles. Van Skyock says Wandersee is committed to Vincennes (Ind.) University and Clark and Crowe are college baseball hopefuls. He plans to meet with parents and players to ask the question “what does your future entail and how can I help you get there?” There will be work, but enjoyment is also the goal. “You may not play baseball in college, but you’ve got to be able to look back and say ‘gosh, that was fun!,” says Van Skyock. As a newly-minted head coach, Van Skyock has to have his assistant coaches approved before announcing his staff. He has also reached out to the leadership at Centerville Youth League, which serves as a feeder system to his program. He helped coach a team with his youngest son this past season. Van Skyock is a 1987 graduate of Union City (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School, where he played baseball for four years. Kevin Lehman was the Indians head coach. By throwing strikeouts and eliminating errors, Lehman saw the key to diamond success. “The game’s a lot of simpler than people want to make it,” says Van Skyock. “Eliminate advantages that you give to the opponent and it makes the game a lot simpler.”
Tim Redford was a player at New Albany (Ind.) High School when he proclaimed that one day he’d be the Bulldogs head baseball coach. He just didn’t know that he’d be 24 when that proclamation came true. Redford, a 2016 New Albany graduate, was offered in the job that came open with the retirement of Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chris McIntyre in July and was school-board approved in early August. The former catcher is also a first-year teacher with three hours each of Health and Physical Education each school day at NAHS. Redford is heading into the fourth week of IHSAA Limited Contact practice. Twenty players who are not tied up with fall or winter sports have been on Mt. Tabor Field for two hours on Mondays and Thursdays. “It’s nice,” says Redford of the limited contact. “I haven’t seen these kids play. I can figure out what we’ve got.” Redford says heavy weightlifting and conditioning will likely start after fall break. The past two years, Redford has been an assistant baseball coach at NAIA member Rheinhardt University (Waleska, Ga.). “I love the college level,” says Redford. “But there’s nothing like home.” Redford, who turns 25 in January, played for McIntyre. He was New Albany head coach for 26 seasons. “He helped us off the field as much as on it with becoming good husbands, fathers and citizens,” says Redford for Coach Mac. “A lot of these kids aren’t going to play college baseball and it’s important. “He did an incredible job.” Redford was a catcher at New Albany and then at Kaskaskia College (a junior college in Centralia, Ill.) and NAIA member William Woods University (Fulton, Mo.). He says this experience helped prepare him for coaching. “Catching is the hardest position in baseball in my opinion,” says Redford. “You’re involved in every play be the quarterback on the field.” Former Purdue University All-American Mitch Koester was Redford’s head coach at Kaskaskia. “He’s great coach and a very, very good recruiter,” says Redford, whose college decision out of New Albany came down to the KC and John A. Logan in Carterville, Ill. “He’s a players’ coach. He knows his stuff.” In two seasons at William Woods, Redford played for two head coaches — Brock Nehls (who went on to be pitching coach at Emporia State, Kan., University) and Chris Fletcher (who has helped start baseball at Moberly, Mo., Area Community College). Redford earned an associate degree at Kaskaskia, an undergraduate Exercise Science degree with a concentration in Sports Management from William Woods and a Masters in Sports Administration and Leadership from Rheinhardt. New Albany (enrollment around 1,840) is a member of the Hoosier Hills Conference (with Bedford North Lawrence, Columbus East, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Jennings County and Seymour). The Bulldogs were champions of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Jennings County and Seymour. New Albany won its 23rd sectional title at Jennings County. Redford is in the process of assembling his full coaching staff. “We want to make sure we get the right guys in there,” says Redford. Improvements at Mt. Tabor since Redford played include turf in fair and foul territory in the infield. “They’ve rarely have to cancel home games last two years,” says Redford. The facility also features in-ground dugouts, bleachers that wrap around dugout to dugout and a large press box with a locker room underneath. New Albany Little League gives a foundation of the high school program “Little League baseball around here has always been big,” says Redmond. “It’s got all the bells and whistles and a good reputation. “It’s super nice to have a community that supports baseball as much as this one. That’s for sure.” Shortstop Tucker Biven (Class of 2022) was an IHSBCA North/South All-Series participant and has moved on to the University of Louisville. Pitcher/shortstop Landon Tiesing (Class of 2023) has committed to Kent State University. Tim Redford III met Colleen Bayer at William Woods and recently purchased a house together. Tim III is the son of Tim Redford II and Marsha Redford and younger brother of Kyle Krinninger.
Blake Beemer was hired as head baseball coach at NCAA Division I Butler University in Indianapolis in June 2022. Beemer, a former first baseman at Ball State University (2010-13) and volunteer assistant at Penn State University (2014-15) and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator at both Eastern Illinois University (2016-18) and Ball State (2019-22), brings a style to his players he describes as energetic. “They’ll get energy from me,” says Beemer, 31. “They’ll get dirt honesty. And I think that’s going to help build relationships. “Guys are going to know where they stand. They’re going to know I care about them. They’re going to know who I am as a human being. Really building those relationships in that foundation will allow us to build toughness and accountability. We’ll build it with with energy will build relationships.” As an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at Ball State over the past four seasons, Beemer helped the Cardinals to a 123-65 record with a Mid-American Conference regular-season championship and an appearance in the MAC Tournament championship game in 2022. “I learned under one of the best in the business under (Ball State head coach) Rich Maloney,” says Beemer, who earned two degrees from BSU — a bachelor’s degree in 2012 and an Masters of Business Administration in 2014. “I’ve had a chance to see success at a high level through him. “I think I know the state pretty well. I know what it takes to win him in major baseball. And I’ve got the energy to make sure this thing gets going. “It’s a cool opportunity. I can tell you I’m very humbled to have this chance. And it’s a neat opportunity. This place can be a rock show. I mean, Butler has everything from the academic side to the location to facilities we can we can really win. Not to mention it’s a great conference (the Big East which also includes baseball-playing members Connecticut, Creighton, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall. Villanova and Xavier). It’s a it’s a really cool opportunity.” The Bulldogs went 20-35-1 overall and 4-16-1 in the Big East in 2022. It was the last season for the retiring Dave Schrage. What does it take to win at the mid-major level? “First off you’ve got to you got to do the recruiting right.” says Beemer. “I mean you win with players and you win with people. So in recruiting we’re after land guys that that are tough. I think in college baseball, you win with toughness. “I think it takes execution. And at Ball State what we did there was we tried to get really good on the mound. And I think here we’ve got to get really good on the mound (at Butler). If you have some horses that can carry you along ways and baseball. “And so I think you’ll see an increased emphasis to help us get better on the bump and to get tougher and to execute at a high level. Baseball is the same everywhere, right? Good pitching, defense and timely hitting. If you do those three things, you’ll be alright.” With building toughness in mind, Beemer has his Bulldogs waking up at 5 a.m. for workouts. They’re doing sprint work and some other training to which they have not been exposed. “I think that there is a energy level that you have to be able to get through whether it’s strength training, speed training, conditioning or for our practice,” says Beemer. “I mean we’re having long practices that the energy has been great, but you build toughness that way. “We’re going to have games that are three and a half hours. We have to have great intent, great focus and great energy in the ninth inning the same as we do when we start the game. That day-in and day-out consistency, that’s where you build toughness.” With a national reputation at Butler, thanks in large part to the recent success of the Bulldogs basketball program, Beemer sees a expanded recruiting footprint for the private school. That means getting some players from the New York City or Washington D.C. areas. “It’s a great degree,” says Beemer. “We just came out in U.S. News and World Report as the No. 1 Midwest regional university in the country. It’s an unbelievable education and I think that speaks volumes across the country.” Beemer’s staff includes assistant coach, pitching coach Ross Learnard, assistant coach Bladen Bales and volunteer coach Dan Wilcher. Learnard pitched at Parkland College and Purdue University (he was a two-time All-American) and coached at Illinois State University and Purdue. His duties with the Boilermakers focused on pitching analytics and team operations. “(Coach Learnard) is really, really detailed and connects with our guys at a high level,” says Beemer. “He’s a great pitching mind I keep telling everybody. I think he’ll be in the SEC. He’ll be an elite pitching coach at one of the high-end jobs within the next seven years. just think I think he’s a stud. “He develops arms as well. He knows how to take care of the guys. He sees things that are really advanced level.” Bales was with Beemer at Ball State in 2022. Before that he coached at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb., and managed the Nebraska City American Legion junior team to a state runner-up finish in 2017. He has also coached the Lakeshore Chinooks of the summer collegiate Northwoods League. Bales played at McCook (Neb.) Community College and Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. “He’s a tireless worker,” says Beemer of Bales. “He has a great eye for talent and recruiting. “I’ve known Dan (Wilcher) for years. We both grew up in Dayton, Ohio. And Dan helps lead our infield play, a lot of our throwing progressions and throwing programs and helps with field maintenance (at Bulldog Park). He’s our Swiss Army knife. He does it all for us.” The first two weeks of fall practice at Butler was for individuals. Team practice began on Labor Day and will go until mid-October with intrasquad games twice a week. After that, there will be a transition back to individuals. “Everybody’s new so it’s a clean slate for everybody is what I’ve been telling our guys,” says Beemer. We get to play outside opponents (Frontier Community College on noon Oct. 1 at home and Ball State Oct. 8 in Muncie). But every day is evaluation, whether it’s an intrasquad, in the weight room or just a BP session, our guys are always being evaluated the same way. “They’re evaluating me. They’re seeing what my coaching style is. They’re seeing how I instruct things. I think that in today’s world, just understand you’re always under a microscope. You’re always being evaluated. Our guys know that. And so every day we’re trying to have competition. We want to get better every day and and move this thing forward day by day.” Since his hire, Beemer has been getting his face in front of the community. Alums are coming back for the induction of the 1998 team (that won a then-school record 33 games) into the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 24 and the Oct. 1 exhibition and Oct. 2 golf outing. The coach has been on the phone talking to alums and boosters and spoke on the air during an Indianapolis Indians broadcast. “We’ve got a great opportunity for this place to really take off,” says Beemer. “I’m proud of it really proud of being a Butler Bulldog and I’m very fortunate for it.”
Chris Card plans to emphasize details as the new head baseball coach at Monrovia (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School. “We’re going to do all the little things right,” says Card, who was hired in July to guide the Bulldogs. “It’s the nuances of the game — how to field a baseball the proper way, how to lead-off — all the little things that are equivalent to the big things. “There are a lot of people that don’t teach that anymore.” Monrovia (enrollment around 525) is a member of the Indiana Crossroads Conference (with Beech Grove, Cascade, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Indianapolis Lutheran, Indianapolis Scecina, Speedway and Triton Central). The Bulldogs were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2022 with Cascade, Covenant Christian, Park Tudor, Speedway and University. Monrovia, which won five games in 2022, is seeking its first sectional title. Card comes to Monrovia with assistant coaching experiences at three high schools. The 1995 graduate of Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis started on the 2005 staff of Phil Webster and spent eight seasons assisting with the varsity Hawks. Decatur Central won an IHSAA Class 4A state championship in 2008. Card, who played second base for the man who landed in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, describes Webster as “very hard-working.” “It’s all the work done on the field and the countless hours he put in with the kids to get better,” says Card. “You learn dedication when you’re with him.” Born in Indianapolis, Card lived in Decatur Township until moving to the Monrovia district in May. While in school, he played baseball at Carson Park and one summer of American Legion baseball managed by Webster. Following his stint at Decatur Central, Card was away from high school coaching for few years then helped head Aaron Kroll at Ben Davis for one varsity season. After a few more seasons off, Card was with Kroll for one season as junior varsity coach at Roncalli. Card has also coached the Decatur Hawks travel team. An IHSAA Limited Contact Period goes from Aug. 29-Oct. 15. Card began going through the basics and getting to know participating players Tuesday. The plan is for two hours of baseball activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the LCP with weight room sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays. “We want to introduce ourselves, what we are about and get on the same page,” says Card, who counts Terry McGlothlin, Anthony Eldridge and Casey Martin as varsity assistants and Cole Keeley and one as-yet-named person as junior varsity coaches. While there are not college commitments among current players, Card says he says .472 hitter in 2022 Julian Zhou (Class of 2023) and right-handed pitcher Brayton Belcher (Class of 2024) have a shot. Belcher is a pitcher. Zhou is on track to be the school’s valedictorian and foresees a career in medicine. Feeding Monrovia baseball are a school-sponsored seventh and eighth grade teams. Card says he hopes to develop a relationship with Monrovia Organized Baseball & Softball. Away from coaching, Card runs the family lawn care business. Chris and wife Mandy Card have three daughters — Franklin (Ind.) College senior Haley (21), dental assistant Breanna (19) and first grader Kendalee (6).
Kerrington Cross produced strong numbers the first chance he got to play collegiate baseball. After not seeing action for the University of Cincinnati in 2021, Cross played in 52 games (50 starts) and hit .291 (57-of-196) with nine home runs, five triples, nine doubles, 30 runs batted in, 44 runs scored and 17 stolen bases in 2022. The 2020 Brownsburg (Ind.) High School graduate led the American Athletic Conference in three-baggers and his team in bases pilfered. In the last game of the 2022 season, Bearcats head coach Scott Googins started Cross at third base and in the lead-off spot in the batting order. The 6-foot, 200-pound athlete began the campaign at second base and hit from many different slots throughout the spring. The coach holds his players accountable. “(Googins) likes really gritty players and talks about us being a brotherhood,” says Cross. “He pushes us. He likes people to grow from their failures.” Cross, 20, enjoyed a productive season with the 2021 Great Summer League Collegiate League’s Cincinnati Steam where the righty swinger wielded a wood bat and hit .419 (52-of-124), four homers, 23 RBIs, 31 runs and 14 steals. But stats or any of the five tools of baseball are not what drives Cross. “I’d rather not think about that,” says Cross. “What does this team need? That’s what I’m focused on. “I apply myself to the team more than thinking about my skill set.” Helping him hone his skills and more is Cincinnati assistant Kyle Sprague, who guides baserunners, hitters and infielders. “He’s at the field three hours longer than the players setting up all the drills,” says Cross of Sprague. “He puts his heart and soul into the game. “I have a weird class schedule so we’ve done a lot of 1-on-1.” As a student in UC’s five-year Chemical Engineering program, Cross revolves class work with cooperatives. He is getting practical experience on a co-op this summer. He played in seven games for the 2022 Steam, but the schedule of working from 7:30 to 4 p.m. and then “show and go” every game was not helping him. “I decided to develop on my own,” says Cross. Looking at his best athletic qualities, Cross cites brainpower. “On the field, it’s my I.Q.,” says Cross. “It ties into my major. I’m considered a nerd, I guess. In high school, I was really good with numbers, really good at science and had a good memory.” To put even more in his tool box, Cross plans to add a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to his resume. Born in Honolulu, Cross moved to Brownsburg about the time he was starting school. He played at Brownsburg Little League and then went to travel ball with the Indiana Bulls from 13U to 17U. Denied a senior high school season in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cross went with the Westfield, Ind.-based College Summer League at Grand Park’s A-Team before going to Cincinnati. In three years of varsity seasons for the Brownsburg Bulldogs, Cross played one year for head coach Eric Mattingly and two for Dan Roman. “Both are great guys,” says Cross. “Mattingly gave me an opportunity. He opened my eyes that I could take it to a new level. “Roman pushed me to be better. He knew I had the potential. We bonded about more than just baseball and stay in-touch. He’s a really good friend of mine.” Kerrington has an older brother (Kasey) and sister (Clarice). Their parents are Harold and Miki Cross. He is from Illinois and she from Japan. They met in Hawaii. Harold Cross runs a Hometown Mini Donuts cart and Miki Cross is a translator (English to Japanese and vice versa).
Tyler Burcham has gotten to know a few things about Batesville, Ind., in his four years of teaching there and five seasons as a baseball coach. “We have a town that really rallies around its baseball,” says Burcham, who was a Batesville High School assistant from 2018-22 and recently took over the program from alum Justin Tucker, who guided the BHS program 2016-22. “I learned a lot from (Coach Tucker) and — hopefully — I can continue to push this program in the right direction.” The Bulldogs won 20 games and lost to Franklin County in the semifinals of the IHSAA Class 3A Rushville Consolidated Sectional in 2022. Batesville (enrollment around 715) is a member of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Connersville, East Central, Franklin County, Greensburg, Lawrenceburg, Rushville Consolidated and South Dearborn). Besides Franklin County and Rushville Consolidated, the Bulldogs were part of a 3A sectional grouping in 2022 with Connersville, Greensburg, Lawrenceburg and South Dearborn. Batesville has won 13 sectional titles — the last two in 2018 and 2021. Burcham, who teaches Health and Physical Education to eighth graders at Batesville Middle School, has already met with some returning players from the Class of 2023 (middle infielder Charlie Schebler is an Ohio State University commit) and morning weightlifting sessions have happened the past two weeks. The goal is to build team chemistry and commitment. “We’re having a lot of guys coming through this program who want to play collegiately,” says Burcham. “Our next step is to push our potential and see how much harder can we hit the baseball and how much harder we can throw it. “There’s culture build-up. We want to see how much further can we take this thing.” Two alums — Zach Britton (Class of 2017) and Bryan Hoeing (Class of 2015) — are in professional baseball and come to work with the next wave during their off-seasons. “They’ve elevated those expectations,” says Burcham. Zach Wade (Class of 2022) has gone on to baseball at Adrian (Mich.) College. Other recent graduates who signed at the next level include Class of 2021’s Sam Voegele (Indiana University Southeast) and Riley Zink (Oakland City University) and Class of 2019’s Trey Heidlage (Marian University) and Lane Oesterling (Indiana University Southeast). Doug Burcham, Tyler’s father, has joined the coaching staff. Other assistants are being sought. The elder Burcham coached at Waldron in 2022 and recently accepted as job as math teacher at Greensburg. Doug Burcham was teaching and coach in Versailles, Ind., when Tyler went to school at South Ripley until second grade and then moved to Greensburg. Tyler did not play varsity as a freshman, when his father was Pirates head coach. Scott Holdsworth was at the head of the program during his three varsity years. “I remember his ability to create relationships,” says Burcham of Holdsworth. “He motivated players as if they were adults and treated them as such. I always appreciated that about Scott.” Burcham is a 2013 graduate of Greensburg High School, where he was part of successful programs in soccer, football, basketball and baseball. He was the first man off the bench for the 2013 3A state boys basketball champions. Recruited by outgoing coach Matt Kennedy, left-handed pitcher Burcham played two baseball seasons at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., for Cobras head coach David Garcia, then two more for Mark Brew at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. Brew has been Flames head coach since the 2007 season and has enjoyed success at the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels. Burcham recalls Brew’s attention to detail. “We’d practice standing from the National Anthem and he’d grade us on it,” says Burcham. “Everything we did we tried to make sure we were really good at it. “He always wanted us to be good men. He’s a big family guy and wants the best for everybody.” After Lee, Tyler was a full-time substitute at Batesville and spent a few months helping his father at Waldron when the opportunity arose to join the Tucker’s Batesville baseball staff. The Bulldogs plays home games off-campus at Liberty Park, which celebrated its 100th year of baseball in 2021. Batesville shares a skinned-infield diamond with the Oldenburg Academy baseball program and Batesville adult slow pitch softball. Varsity games and practices are coordinated with Oldenburg. Junior varsity and C-team practices take place at an on-campus field which is adjacent to the football stadium and is considered too small for varsity play.
Batesville Bats — founded by Brandon Blessing and Paul Drake — are a travel organization that worked closely with Tucker and will continue to help Burcham. The 2023 season will be the eighth season for the Bats. There will be teams for 9U to 15U. Tyler’s mother — Cindy Burcham — is a former nurse and current case manager for Indiana University Health. Both brothers are older. Kyle Burcham works for Amazon and lives in Santa Claus, Ind. Shawn Burcham works with a sports program app and resides in Indianapolis. Tyler and Carissa Burcham were married in July 2021. “She’s been a rock star during this whole thing,” says Tyler of his wife. “She wants to help in any way she can. “I think she knows how much it means to me.”
Frank Plesac welcomes pressure. The right-handed pitcher from Crown Point, Ind., enjoys facing hitters and the promise that comes with his famous baseball last name. “There are definitely a lot of expectations,” says Frank of being the brother of a current big league hurler (Zach Plesac) and the nephew of one who spent 18 seasons in Major League Baseball (Dan Plesac). “I’d rather have the expectations high with pressure on myself. It helps me perform better. I just try to live up to the name.” Righty Zach Plesac is a starter for the Cleveland Guardians and made his MLB debut in 2019. He is 10 minutes older than twin Ron. Lefty Dan Plesac won 65 games and saved 158 from 1986-2003 and is in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and is a regular on MLB Network. Frank Plesac is coming off his second season at Bethel University in Mishawaka, Ind., where he is 8-12 with a 4.28 earned run average, 129 strikeouts and 31 walks in 138 2/3 innings. In 2022, those marks were 6-5 with a 3.24 ERA, 83 strikeouts and 13 walks in 86 innings which led to an all-Crossroads League first team selection. All but two of his outings fro Bethel have been in a starting role. “I love to start,” says Plesac, 20. “I feel like it’s my game and I’m in-control.” Seth Zartman is the Pilots head coach. Kiel Boynton guides the pitchers. “He introduced the family aspect of the team, which I never really understood before that,” says Plesac of Zartman, who has been head coach at Bethel since the 2004 season. “I’m glad he gave me the opportunity to really experience that. “(Coach Boynton and I) talk a lot about pitching. We pick each other’s brains. We try to learn from each other.” The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Plesac is pitching this summer for the wood bat Northern League’s Justin Huisman-managed Lake County CornDogs, which play at Legacy Fields in Plesac’s hometown of Crown Point. His coach at Crown Point High School was IHSBCA Hall of Famer Steve Strayer. “He’s a character and a great coach,” says Plesac of Strayer. “He always pushed us to be our best. “He impacted the way I viewed baseball and the way I play baseball now.” The youngest of union carpenter Ron and Registered Nurse Jeannie Plesac’s children, Frank played on the Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth fields in Crown Point then went into travel ball with Morris Baseball and the South Shore Bears. In the summer of 2021, he got reps with a local men’s team called the Raw Dogs. Through his first seven mound appearances (six starts) with the CornDogs, the 2022 Northern League East All-Star is 1-0 with a 2.11 ERA. In 34 innings, he has 49 K’s and just three base on balls. Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Plesac uses a Four-seam fastball (which topped out at 93 mph in the spring), curveball, slider and change-up. What is his best swing-and-miss pitch? “Definitely the curveball,” says Plesac. “It’s pretty sharp with a deep break. Sometimes I’ll try to get on top of it to get more of a 12-to-6 break. Sometimes I’ll leave the wrist a little open to get more of a slurve action. “It’s a different pitch every time.” Plesac, who has two years of eligibility remaining heading into 2022-23, is a Criminal Justice major. He sees it as a natural fit with one of his favorite non-baseball pursuits. “I’m a big outdoors person,” says Plesac. “I love to hunt. I love to fish. Being a (Department of Natural Resources) conversation officer is everything I want and more. “They say do what you love. That’s what I love doing.” Plesac can see the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield in his future. But first the diamond. “I’m going to try to ride baseball as far as I can,” says Plesac. “Why not?”
Cal Curiel came through in the clutch at the 2022 Northern League All-Star Game. Batting with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning, righty-swinging Curiel singled to right field to drive in the tying run. The East went on to beat the West 5-4 in 10 innings July 12 at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind. Curiel, who started at third base and hit third in the East lineup in the All-Star Game, is on the first-place Lake County CornDogs (24-8), which plays home games at Legacy Fields in Crown Point, Ind. “I love Coach (Steve) Strayer,” says 2021 Crown Point High School graduate Curiel of his Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame head coach. “He’s a great guy and a great coach, too. He knows what he’s doing. “We always have good teams at Crown Point and he’s fun to play for.” Curiel hit .324 with 13 runs batted in and 23 runs scored in 2021. Spending his whole life in the seat of Lake County, Curiel played Little League there and for the Morris Chiefs (now the 5 Star Great Lakes Chiefs) from 14U to 18U. That’s when he got to play for Dave Sutkowski. “Bush is awesome,” says Curiel of Sutkowski. “He is one of my favorite coaches ever. He’s always about the players. You could always talk to him in the dugout during the game. He’s going to try to win the ballgame. He’s just awesome.” The Chiefs managed to play about 60 games during the summer of 2020. “(Sutkowski) was finding teams to play around here when we couldn’t get into big tournaments because of COVID,” says Curiel. “It was a great time.” Curiel was one of only two players to appear in all 50 games for NAIA Crossroads League member Grace College (Winona Lake, Ind.) in the spring of 2022. Utility infielder Curiel made 37 starts for the Lancers and hit .333 (54-of-162) with 51 singles, 18 RBIs, 31 runs and 12 stolen bases in 16 attempts. His on-base percentage was .388. “We could have been a little better,” says Curiel of Grace’s 17-33 record. “We look like we’re going up (in 2023). I like the team we have coming in.” The Lancers head coach is Ryan Roth. “Roth is also a super-positive guy,” says Curiel. “He’s super-approachable and you can always talk to him. You can tell he cares about his players.” Through 26 Northern League games with the CornDogs, Curiel was hitting .299 (26-of-87) with five doubles, 19 RBIs, 20 runs and 11 stolen bases. “I’m looking to hit a ball hard early in the count,” says Curiel of his offensive approach. “I’m going to look for my pitch. If I don’t I’m probably going to take or foul the pitch off. “I’m not a huge power guy so I try to take the ball where’s it’s pitched.” Curiel did not play last summer. He took the time to get his body prepared. “I was a pretty skinny kid coming out of high school,” says Curiel. “So I ate a lot and worked out. I tried to put on 10 or 15 pounds so I could compete in college. “I was 18 going into the college season competing with fifth- and six-year players. I had to get physically ready to play.” The 6-foot-2 athlete went from 170 pounds to about 195. Exercise Science is Curiel’s college major. It’s his goal to be a physical therapist. He explains why he chose that path. “I got like super into working out,” says Curiel. “I just like trying to live healthy. I wanted to take a lot of courses on that.” He can use that knowledge to help himself and others. Cal is the son of Mike and Christine Curiel. Sister Ella Curiel is heading into her senior year of high school.
The 55th IHSAA State Finals for baseball is returning to a Friday-Saturday format with two games each day at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis. On Friday, June 17, the Class 2A game pits No. 7-ranked Centerville (21-5) against unranked Illiana Christian (21-7) at 5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 CT. Both teams are making their first State Finals appearance. Centerville has outscored opponents 38-20 in five postseason games. Illiana Christian has a run differential of 62-6 in six games. The 3A game features No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit (26-4) against No. 1 Andrean (30-4) at 8 ET/7 CT. The Braves have earned one state runner-up finish in 3A (2012), the 59ers seven state titles (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) and one runner-up (2003). Tournament run differential — Brebeuf 47-5 in six games, Andrean 49-6 in five games. On Saturday, June 18, the 1A title contest is slated for 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT and includes vote-getter Tecumseh (19-12) and No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic (26-6). The Braves won it all in 1A in 2003 while the Knights have carted off the state trophy on seven occasions (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). Tournament run differential — Tecumseh 58-15 in six games, Lafayette Central Catholic 62-7 in five games. The 4A championship is slated for 8 ET/7 CT and pits a pair of unranked clubs — Indianapolis Cathedral (18-10-2) against Penn (25-6). The Irish have reigned three times (2001 in 3A, 2007 and 2017 in 4A) with five runner-up finishes (2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2018). The Kingsmen have four state crowns to their credit (1994 in the pre-class era, 1998, 2001 and 2015 in 4A) with one runner-up (2017). Tournament run differential — Cathedral 59-27 in five games, Penn 33-12 in six games. Andrean’s Dave Pishkur, Lafayette Central Catholic’s Tim Bordenet, Penn’s Greg Dikos are all members of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. A capsule look at the finalists:
Class 4A Indianapolis Cathedral Top hitters: Jr. Kyuss Gargett (.395 average, 3 home runs, 18 runs batted in, 18 stolen bases), So. Carson Johnson (.389, 20 RBI, 12 SB), So. J.T. Stiner (.364, 2 HR, 30 RBI), Sr. Ben Gomez (.342, 2 HR), So. Patrick Mazur (.341, 21 RBI), 13 SB, Jr. David Ayers (.247, 18 RBI, 16 SB), Sr. Connor Hall (15 SB). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Ben Gomez (5-1, 36 strikeouts, 15 walks, 3.55 earned run average, 51 1/3 IP), Sr. RHP Dylan Haslett (3-3, 3.58, 56 K’s, 25 walks, 43 IP). Cathedral won the Pike Sectional (Pike 11-1, Lawrence North 10-8), New Palestine Regional (Anderson 14-4, New Palestine 11-7) and Mooresville Semistate (Columbus East 13-7). The Fighting Irish have won a season-best seven in a row. Saturday’s game against Penn recalls the 2017 4A championship game (a 4-3 Cathedral victory). Bishop Chatard bested the Irish in the 2022 city championship game May 10 at Victory Field. Cathedral head coach Ed Freje (Sixth season, 113-32-5) says: “We’ve struggled early and throughout to kind of find our identity on the mound and some pieces that worked offensively for us. We had some bad losses. We had some good wins. It was kind of an up-and-down year … Ben Gomez threw a great game, a complete game (in a 3-2 Senior Night win May 16 against Mooresville). I don’t know if that was a turning point, but I think it definitely gave the guys confidence to beat a good opponent. It was some momentum to build on going into the postseason … We make it a priority (to play a competitive schedule). We definitely want to play and see good teams to see where we’re at early and throughout the season — most importantly to see good pitching and challenge ourselves … We can learn from our wins and learn from our losses and grow through the season … Hopefully — along the way — we’re winning some games. Losing is something we try not to settle in too much in the program … We try to go out and compete everyday to win so you know the losses we took throughout weren’t easy, especially some of the lopsided ones (including 11-1 to Homestead, 17-1 to Center Grove and 18-8 to Franklin Community) … We’ve had games where we’ve had to battle and win in some ugly ways … One of the staples of the program when I was an assistant to Coach (Rich) Andriole was pitching and defense and holding opponents to low-scoring games and that — quite frankly — hasn’t been how we’ve won this year. We’ve been kind of fortunate to find some offense and find our bats here lately … Each team kind of takes its own identity and this isn’t the team from 2017 and it’s not the team from 2018 (which lost 4-3 to Fishers for the 4A title). This team is its own team. I’m proud of the way we’ve stuck together … It’s a special opportunity (to play at Victory Field). We try to tell our players it’s nothing to take for granted … It provides a little bit of reassurance the fact that we’ve been there.”
Penn Top hitters: Zach Hoskins (.412, 1 HR, 14 RBI), Jr. Cam Dombrowski (.409, 21 RBI), Sr. Ben Gregory (.373, 30 RBI), Jr. Adam Lehmann (.366, 20 RBI), Jr. Cooper Hums (.333, 2 HR, 16 RBI), Sr. Zac David (.313, 27 RBI), Jr. Evan Tuesley (.219, 2 HR, 11 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Ben Gregory (3-1, 2.07, 37 K’s, 8 walks, 27 IP), Jr. RHP Brayden Schoetzow (10-0, 1.37, 62 K’s, 14 walks, 51 IP), Jr. RHP Adam Lehmann (3-1, 1.64, 49 K’s, 16 walks, 34 IP), So. RHP Joe Trennery (4-2, 3.30, 49 K’s, 18 walks, 36 IP). Penn won the Penn Sectional (Elkhart 7-0, Warsaw 3-1, Northridge 7-5), LaPorte Regional (South Bend Adams 11-0, Lake Central 5-4) and LaPorte Semistate (Zionsville 4-2). The Kingsmen are in the state championship game for the sixth time coming off an 11-game win streak. Penn has won 14 of its last 15. Penn head coach Greg Dikos (35th season, 793-281) says: “I think it’s going to be very good baseball … (Cathedral) is pounding the ball pretty good. That’s one of the things we have to stop. They score a lot of runs. They look to have some team speed … Like we did for Zionsville, we’re going working on holding runners and with our catchers getting rid of he ball. You know, making sure we don’t allow them any free bases … We want them to take a look around and enjoy the atmosphere because this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (for our players). I also want to make sure they understand the responsibility on their shoulders. The community is expecting a ‘W.’ … (Competing for championships) is the culture here at Penn … (Assistant coach Jim Kominkiewicz) has been involved for all six (State Finals) appearances. (Tom Stanton) has been involved since 2002. The kids see that we’re experienced (coaches) and I think that might take a little pressure off as well.”
Class 3A Brebeuf Jesuit Top hitters: Sr. Sam Reed (.444, 2 HR, 22 RBI), Sr. Will Schenkelberg (.426, 2 HR, 32 RBI), Sr. Luke Bauer (.413, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 19 SB), So. Will Loftus (.407, 3 HR, 32 RBI), Jr. Jayden Ohmer (.398, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 21 SB), Sr. Anthony Annee (.320, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 33 SB), Jr. Michael Finelli (.329, 22 RBI), Jr. Alex Cookerly (.241, 22 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Andrew Dutkanych (8-0, 106 K’s, 24 walks, 1.02, 48 IP), Sr. LHP Sam Reed (5-0, 1.17, 89 K’s, 15 walks, 54 IP). Brebeuf won the Danville Sectional (Greencastle 10-0, Danville 11-3, Tri-West Hendricks 12-2), Danville Regional (West Vigo 4-0, Beech Grove 8-0) and Jasper Semistate (Silver Creek 2-0). The Braves have won 15 straight. Their last loss was April 30 at Center Grove (9-8). Brebeuf won the Marion County tournament championship May 10 against Lawrence North (13-3) at Victory Field. Brebeuf head coach Jeff Scott (Fourth season at Brebeuf and 12th overall, 131-100-1) says: “We never really talked about the State Finals this year. We had a senior leadership meeting (in the winter and throughout the season). One of the things I talked about was ‘let’s enjoy this ride here and let’s take this thing day-by-day. Let’s go work hard and enjoy each day and see where we get when this thing’s over … This is my last year at Brebeuf. I’ve kept that under my hat. I didn’t want to take away our seniors or our team (Scott, who is in his fourth season leading the Braves, lives in the Center Grove district and makes a long daily commute to Brebeuf and wants to spent more time enjoying his children’s activities) … We knew we compete on that stage and compete with that team (after the loss to Center Grove). I think our mindset changed a little bit … Sam (Reed) gives you a great look on the left side. He really works down and keeps the ball down. Where (Friday’s starter) Andrew (Dutkanych) will rely on the breaking ball a little more, Sam relies on the change-up a little more. That’s probably the noticeable differences between those two pitchers … It’s a huge advantage (having played recently at Victory Field). You know we were there last year. The majority of the team has played on that field the last two years already. When you first play there No. 1 you’re a little awestruck. It’s a beautiful venue and unbelievable backdrop with the city of Indianapolis there. So you have that factor. It’s really big (320 feet down the lines, 418 to left-center, 326 to right-center and 402 to dead center). The foul territories are much bigger and the gaps are much bigger that your normal high school field. Positioning the outfielders is very difficult at Victory Field, especially if you haven’t been there. Communicating is extremely challenging out there for some reason … (Andrean) is going to be well-prepared to go pitch it well and defend it well. I’m certain they’ll have a good game plan to try to attack (Dutkanych) as well — just like Silver Creek did this past weekend.”
Andrean Top hitters: Sr. Jax Kalemba (.460, 5 HR, 38 RBI), Sr. Billy Jones (.435, 1 HR, 9 RBI), Sr. Alonzo Paul (.434, 17 RBI), Sr. Miguel Martinez (.429, 2 HR, 11 RBI), Sr. Peyton Niksch (.425, 2 HR, 33 RBI), Fr. Mason Barth (.406, 1 HR, 43 RBI), Sr. Owen Walkowiak (.395, 18 RBI), Jr. Drayk Bowen (.355, 2 HR, 30 RBI), Jr. Chris Koeppen (.282, 2 HR, 13 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Peyton Niksch (10-0, 0.22, 79 K’s, 15 walks, 62 2/3 IP), Sr. RHP Owen Walkowiak (5-2, 1.76, 59 K’s, 17 walks, 47 2/3 IP). Andrean won the Griffith Sectional (Griffith 10-2, Calumet New Tech 18-0), Griffith Regional (South Bend Saint Joseph 5-3, Glenn 4-0) and Kokomo Semistate (New Castle 12-1). The 59ers have won six in a row. The team reeled off 14 straight wins April 14-May 10. Andrean head coach Dave Pishkur (42nd season, 1,070-292) says: “The Penn game (a 4-3 win on April 29) might be the one that told me that we’re good enough to beat some of the really good teams. But we kept on getting better week after week (as the starting lineup from Day 1 evolved through the season as is typical at Andrean) … We went right by Victory Field (on the way came back from Louisville Ballard in late March). Our kids were saying ‘we’ll be there in two months.’ My son and I, we were kind of laughing like there’s no way we’re coming back there if we don’t get markedly better and we did. They prophesied that they were going to be there … This is a very athletic team. We put a premium on baserunning and putting the ball in-play … We’ve seen good pitching this year. The problem is Dukanych might be a step up from good pitching. He might be that elite generational type of talent … We’re fortunate at Andrean that we have a lot of good equipment (including a $14,000 iPitch machine which can deliver 97 mph fastballs, 76 mph breaking pitches and just about everything in-between) … With a good opposition (like Brebeuf) you expect good pitching. You expect good hitting. But, on the other side, they should expect the same out of us and you kind of hope it’s a well-played game.”
Class 2A Centerville Top hitters: Sr. Jamari Pamplin (.429, 6 HR, 28 RBI), Sr. Javontae Pamplin (.423, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 16 SB) , Sr. Keegan Schlotterbeck (.364, 2 HR, 27 RBI), Sr. Logan Drook (.361, 18 RBI), Jr. Jacob Crowe (.357, 1 HR, 26 RBI), Jr. Collin Clark (.338, 2 HR, 18 RBI), So. Kollyn Peed (.333, 1 HR, 9 RBI), Sr. Bryce Robertson (333, 18 RBI), Sr. Zach Thompson (.274, 1 HR, 14 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Jacob Crowe (10-3, 2.13, 87 K’s, 14 walks, 62 1/3 IP), Sr. RHP Logan Drook (5-0, 1.30, 66 K’s, 28 walks, 43 IP). Centerville won the Centerville Sectional (Shenandoah 4-2, Hagerstown 14-8), Park Tudor Regional (Cascade 6-3, Heritage Christian 8-2) and Mooresville Semistate (Linton-Stockton 6-5). The Bulldogs have won eight in a row — including the school’s first-ever regional and semistate titles — following a three-game losing skid. The team strung together 11 victories April 20-May 9. Centerville head coach Tracey Crull (10th season, 120-94) says: “It’s absolutely madness. It’s crazy (the excitement in the community) … We have a walk-off (RBI single by Jamari Pamplin against Linton-Stockton to punctuate a two-run seventh) and we’re in the state title game. My phone, email, text messages, all kinds of messages have been blowing. It’s not just the Centerville community. It’s the whole county … We had a really tough week in May where we played our rival Hagerstown twice (in Tri-Eastern Conference Wayne County tournament games). We lost both ball games by a run (2-1 and 3-2 sandwiching a 10-0 loss at Lapel). After that week we had some long conversations as a team. We talked about focus. We talked about accountability. We talked about how we react to adversity. We then went on a run … We’ve had a stretch where we’ve hit the ball really well … It could be (Jacob Crowe or Logan Drook starting on the mound Friday). Logan gave up only one unearned run all year. They are completely different pitchers. Logan (who was the semistate starter) is a little bit harder thrower. He doesn’t give up as many hits. Jake gives up a few more hits, but he’s really good at keeping runners and batters off-balance with his motion and his delivery. It depends on whoever is feeling the best and having the best match-up Friday … Our boys like to see really good pitching (which the Bulldogs have faced in tournament play). I think it will be a good ball game (against Illiana Christian).”
Illiana Christian Top hitters: Jr. Kevin Corcoran (.471, 4 HR, 37 RBI), Sr. Ian VanBeek (.446, 22 RBI), Sr. Adam Walters (.410, 12 RBI), Sr. Tyler Barker (.373, 29 RBI), Jr. Cody DeJong (.351, 2 HR, 22 RBI), So. Isaac VanderWoude (.338, 19 RBI), Sr. Levi Hescott (.300, 12 RBI), Sr. Gabe VanRoekel (.282, 17 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. LHP Kevin Corcoran (4-1, 2.194, 75 K’s, 13 walks, 44 2/3 IP), Sr. RHP Ian VanBeek (3-2, 1.474, 56 K’s, 6 walks, 38 IP). Illiana Christian won the Whiting Sectional (Bowman Academy 19-0, Hammond Bishop Noll 3-1, Wheeler 16-4), Whiting Regional (Winamac 11-1, Eastside 7-0) and Kokomo Semistate (Wapahani 6-0). The Vikings have won a season-best seven straight games. There was a stretch from April 25 to May 2 where Illiana Christian went 2-4 with two losses to Griffith and one each against Highland and Hanover Central. The team has triumphed in 13 of its last 14. Illiana Christian head coach Jeff VanderWoude (Third season, 40-13) says: “Last year we had a younger team. I thought we were pretty good. Last year we ran into Rex Stills of Wheeler and lost that game 2-1 in the (Whiting) Sectional final … This year our (Bible) verse is James 1:2-3. It’s basically saying consider it pure joy when you hit trials and tribulations because our faith has been strengthened … This team turned around when they started playing for each other and not themselves. Our team does that extremely well, I am 100-percent convinced that’s exactly whey we’re in this position … We try to play the bigger schools (around northwest Indiana) … Kevin Corcoran competes really well. He’s a very athletic kid.”
Class 1A Tecumseh Top hitters: Jr. Conner Anglin (.472, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 13 SB), Jr. Brody Julian (.383, 14 RBI), Jr. Drew Dupont (.341, 2 HR, 27 RBI), Jr. Dax Bailey (.387, 1 HR, 27 RBI), So. D.J. Dupont (.298, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 15 SB), Jr. Chase Jones (.263, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 11 SB), Fr. Mason Gogel (.256, 18 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Dax Bailey (5-4, 3.35, 39 K’s, 22 walks, 54 1/3 IP), Jr. RHP Conner Anglin (5-2, 1.13, 28 K’s, 10 walks, 31 IP), Jr. RHP Drew Dupont (5-1, 3.00, 47 K’s, 23 walks, 42 IP). Tecumseh won the Cannelton Sectional (Northeast Dubois 9-8, Wood Memorial 11-2, Springs Valley 11-0), Loogootee Regional (New Washington 11-1, Barr-Reeve 4-1) and Jasper Semistate (Shakamak 12-3). The Braves have won a season-high nine straight games. The team, which has no seniors and four freshmen in the starting lineup, started out 1-4 and entered May 6-9. Of the 12 losses, seven are by two runs or fewer. Tecumseh head coach Ted Thompson (Fifth season, 77-44) says: “We started out struggling a little bit. Our four freshmen (Mason Gogel, Wyatt Huddleston, Braydon Long and Thomas Pemberton) were just learning how to play it at the varsity level. I thought by the time we were going to do tournament we were going to be in good shape as far as being able to compete at a high level … About the month of May everything started to click … Everything just really started to work well with our four freshmen and our juniors provided great leadership … We’ve made one — maybe two errors — in the last three weeks. It’s been really good defensively and we’ve just really played well … We try to load up our schedule (with 4A and 3A schools including Evansville North and Gibson Southern) to try to be competitive. We try to do everything we can to provide an atmosphere for our guys to improve … The first two weeks of the season we only pitch our pitches for 35 to 40 pitches. The second two weeks, which ends April, we don’t even get our pitchers above 60 pitches (with freshmen pitching often in relief) … For our young guys to really get some innings is going to be valuable for us not only this year, but next year as well … (The State Finals) is a brand new environment for everyone. They’ve never faced it before. We feel like we do a great job of preparing our guys for big moments. We put a lot of pressure on them in practice. We really drill them on a lot of different situations … We’ll definitely be focused on the Tecumseh Braves. We have a great philosophy and I believe we have a great system. We’ll try to give the kids an idea of what to expect. Lafayette Central Catholic is going to be a formidable opponent. We know they’re going to come at us with a lot of different variations of the game. I can tell you our players will be prepared for those moments. It’s all about execution.”
Lafayette Central Catholic Top hitters: Jr. Evan Dienhart (.462, 18 RBI), Jr. Owen Munn (.366, 1HR, 23 RBI), Jr. Ryan Schummer (.354, 2 HR, 26 RBI), So. Kayden Minnich (.270, 21 RBI), Sr. Justin Brady (.250, 1 HR, 21 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Ben Mazur (8-1, 0.63, 96 K’s, 19 walks, 55 1/3 IP), So. RHP Brinn Robbins (8-1, 0.95, 61 K’s, 15 walks, 59 IP). Central Catholic won the Lafayette Central Sectional (Attica 13-1, Riverton Parke 8-0, Covington 10-0), Lafayette Central Regional (Union City 12-2, Rossville 10-0) and LaPorte Semistate (South Central of Union Mills 9-4 in 8 innings). The Knights have won a season-best 13 straight after a two-game losing streak. The team’s other setbacks came between April 1 and May 4. Knights head coach Tim Bordenet (27th season, 634-203) says: “We were kind of up-and-down until our (Hoosier) Conference championship against Western (a 6-1 victory on May 13 against University of Louisville pitching recruit Mitchell Dean). I think that was really the turning point. We had two games that week and were not playing that well. (Beating Western) proved to our guys that when we play the way we’re capable of we can compete and beat anybody … You’ve got to be able to get in a lot of hitters’ counts and put pressure on the opposing pitcher and opposing defense. Saturday (in the regional against South Central) we only had one hit for seven innings, but we did draw a lot of walks and hit by pitches and so we had a lot of traffic on the bases. I thought our approach at the plate was really good … We know we play a tough schedule and intentionally put ourselves in some adverse situations where we have to come back or hold on to a late lead in a close ballgame. Undoubtedly those situations have helped us here in the (state) tournament … We brought (junior right-hander) Evan Dienhart in (to pitch) with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game … He got a strikeout and fly out to get out of that inning … Our outfielders have to have good angles at balls in the gaps (at spacious Victory Field) and not let balls get past them. Fortunately for us, our outfield (senior Carter Johnson in left, Brinn Robbins in center and sophomore Kayden Minnich in right) is probably the strength of our team and has really good speed … Our kids are pretty savvy. The moments haven’t been too big for them to this point.”
With a four-game sweep at Miami (Ohio) during the week of May 16-22, Ball State earned the right to host the four-team Mid-American Conference baseball tournament May 25-28 in Muncie. The Cardinals are one of eight teams from Indiana going into NCAA Division I conference tournaments this week. Ball State (38-17), the MAC regular-season champions for the first time since 2014, is the top seed, followed by Central Michigan No. 2, Toledo No. 3 and Ohio No. 4. BSU is 7-3 in its last 10 games. The Rich Maloney-coached Cardinals are 18-4 at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex. Twelve teams will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament May 24-29 in Charlotte, N.C. Pool play is May 24-27. No. 4 seed Notre Dame (33-13) is in Pool D with No. 5 seed Virginia and No. 9 seed Florida State. Link Jarrett is the Notre Dame head coach. The Irish are 7-3 in their last 10. The eight-team Big Ten Conference tournament is slated for May 25-29 in Omaha, Neb. Maryland is the No. 1 seed, Rutgers No. 2, Iowa No. 3, Illinois No. 4, Michigan No. 5, Penn State No. 6, Greg Goff-coached Purdue (29-19) No. 7 and Jeff Mercer-coached Indiana (25-30) No. 8. The Boilermakers are 4-6 in their last 10, the Hoosiers 5-5. The eight-team Missouri Valley Conference tournament is scheduled for May 24-28 in Springfield, Mo. Southern Illinois is the No. 1 seed, followed by Wes Carroll-coached Evansville (30-22) No. 2, Dallas Baptist No. 3, Bradley No. 4, Mitch Hannah-coached Indiana State (25-20-1) No. 5, Missouri State No. 6, Illinois State No. 7 and Brian Schmack-coached Valparaiso (16-31) No. 8. The Purple Aces are 6-4 in their last 10, the Sycamores 3-6-1 and Beacons 3-7. The six-team Horizon League tournament May 25-28 in Dayton, Ohio. Wright State is the No. 1 seed. Oakland is No. 2, Illinois-Chicago No. 3, Doug Schreiber-coached Purdue Fort Wayne (18-35) No. 4, Youngstown State No. 5 and Northern Kentucky No. 6. The Mastodons are 5-5 in their last 10. Notre Dame is No. 17 in the D1Baseball.com RPI. Ball State is No. 70, Evansville No. 86, Indiana State No. 99, Indiana No. 115, Purdue No. 124, Valparaiso No. 210, Butler No. 238 and Purdue Fort Wayne No. 258. Automatic bids go to the winners of the MAC, ACC, Big Ten, MVC and Horizon tournaments and more. There are 31 automatic bids and 33 at-large picks that will be made by NCAA Division I Baseball Committee. The tournament bracket for the 64-team event will be revealed at noon Eastern Time May 30 on ESPN2. Butler (20-35-1) did not qualify for the four-team Big East Conference tournament, which is May 26-29 in Mason, Ohio. Bulldogs head coach Dave Schrage concluded his 38-year career with a 6-4 victory Saturday against Seton Hall. He recently announced his retirement. Taylor (41-18) and Indiana University Southeast (40-15) both went 1-2 and bowed out at separate NAIA Opening Round sites — the Kyle Gould-coached Trojans in the Upland Bracket and the Ben Reel-coached Grenadiers in the Santa Barbara Bracket. Earlham (26-13) lost twice at NCAA Division III regional at Lynchburg, Va. The Steve Sakosits-coached Quakers qualified by winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament. Vincennes (25-32) saw its season end with two losses in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Mid-West Athletic Conference tournament in Normal, Ill. Chris Barney is the VU Trailblazers coach.
Santa Barbara Bracket Antelope Valley (Calif.) 3, IU Southeast 2 Championship Westmont (Calif.) 12, Antelope Valley (Calif.) 0
Junior College Wednesday, May 18 Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament Danville Area 6, Vincennes 3 Parkland 2, Lewis & Clark 1 Lincoln Land 10, Illinois Central 0 Illinois Central 5, Lewis & Clark 3
Thursday, May 19 Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament Heartland 7, Danville Area 0 Lincoln Land 5, Parkland 0 Illinois Central 7, Danville Area 6 Parkland 6, Vincennes 5
Friday, May 20 Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament Heartland 8, Lincoln Land 4 Illinois Central 12, Parkland 3 Lincoln Land 11, Illinois Central 1
Saturday, May 21 Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Heartland 4, Lincoln Land 2