BY STEVE KRAH
The Twisters of Oldenburg (Ind.) Academy enjoyed the highest number of participants and victories in a number of years in 2019.
The IHSAA Class 1A member in Franklin County near Batesville had 24 players in the program and followed up two straight five-win seasons by going 16-8-1.
The Twisters fell to Rising Sun in the championship game of the Jac-Cen-Del Sectional. The win total is two shy of single-season school record.
“We’re on the uptick with enrollment and with kids being interested (in baseball),” says Doug Behlmer, who just finished his 19th season as OA head coach (the private school went coed 19 years ago). “Hopefully, it keeps going.”
Drawing from area parter Catholic elementary and middle schools (St. Louis in Batesville, St. Nicholas in Sunman, St. Mary’s in Greensburg, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Aurora, St. Lawrence in Lawrenceburg, St. Michael in Brookville and St. John the Baptist in Harrison) and public schools in Indiana and Ohio, Oldenburg Academy (enrollment around 225) is an independent in baseball.
The Twisters’ schedule includes 1A’s Blue River Valley, Edinburgh, Greenwood Christian Academy, Jac-Cen-Del, North Decatur, Rising Sun, Seton Catholic, Shawe Memorial, South Decatur, Trinity Lutheran and Waldron, 2A’s Centerville, Indianapolis Scecina Memorial, South Ripley, Southwestern (Hanover), Switzerland County and Triton Central 2A, 3A’s Lawrenceburg and Rushville.
Besides Rising Sun and Jac-Cen-Del, Oldenburg Academy is in sectional grouping with Hauser, North Decatur and South Decatur. The Twisters have won four sectional titles (2003, 2004, 2005, 2010).
With more than a dozen incoming freshmen indicating a desire to play baseball in 2020, Behlmer says the program could have an all-time high of more than 30 players and could even have to make cuts for the first time.
When the program began, there was just 13 freshmen and the Twisters played a junior varsity schedule. That moved toward a full varsity schedule in the next few years.
The 2019 team was led on the mound by sophomore right-handers Chris Hautman, Andrew Oesterling and Riley Schebler and in the batter’s box by Oesterling, Hautman, Schebler, sophomores Race Carle and Patrick Thompson and juniors Matt Sedler, Adam Huber and Michael Hoff.
Senior Hunter Sullivan has committed to play baseball for Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.
Behlmer’s coaching staff included former OA players Spencer Gommel, Patrick Kolks and Matt Bohman and pitching coach Jeff Ahaus (a Lawrenceburg eye doctor who had two sons play for the Twisters). Bohman is in charge of the junior varsity team.
Points of emphasis include dependability and hard work.
“If you say you’re going do something, make sure you do it,” says Behlmer. “Family, faith and academics all come in front of baseball.”
A 1988 graduate of Greensburg (Ind.) High School, Behlmer played for head coach Roger Cash.
“Coach Cash was an old school guy,” says Behlmer. “He believed in fundamentals and making the routine play. I’ve carried that over to our guys. Nothing too flashy. Be solid. Throw strikes. That sort of thing.”
Doug and Judy Behlmer have been married 21 years and have no children. He is employed by Hill-Rom in Batesville.