By STEVE KRAH
Cory Blocker moves up from varsity assistant to head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School in Wabash, Ind., in 2022-23.
Borrowing a motto from another coach, Blocker wants the Knights to be “efficient.”
“In practice drills, we’re not standing around but getting plenty of swings and taking game-like reps,” says Blocker, who wants to see efficiency in the field, on the mound and in the batter’s box.
Southwood left 6.6 runners on base per game and committed 88 fielding errors in going 5-17-1 in 2022.
“We want to make the plays behind our pitchers,” says Blocker. “We want to have an (offensive) approach and understand our job each time we go to the plate. We’ll try to put ourselves in the best position to achieve that job.”
If the Knights have a runner on first base, the job will entail moving them at least to second base.
“We want to make (opposing) pitchers work and make every out count,” says Blocker, who wants to see his hitters make contact and increase their batting average on balls in play.
Pitching efficiency includes mechanics, throwing strikes and liming walks.
Among Southwood returnees for 2023 is senior catcher Mo Lloyd, who hit .452 with 12 home runs and 40 runs batted in for 2002 and hitting .480 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs for a 22-7 team in 2021.
Besides Blocker, the coaching staff features returnees Danny Lloyd and Christian Deeter and newcomers in pitching coach Kyle Zerfas and junior varsity coach Tanner Chamberlain.
There were about 25 players in the program — varsity and JV — in 2022.
Blocker is in his eighth year as a Southwood teacher. He instructs sixth grade math and is at the junior/high school building for the first time in 2022-23.
He has been a baseball and football assistant for seven years. This fall, he was the special teams coordinator and running backs coach. The 2022 Southwood football team went 7-3.
Because of when Blocker was named head coach and his football duties, there were no IHSAA Limited Contact Period activities in the fall.
The Knights play home games on-campus on a facility sometimes called “The Launching Pad” for its cozy dimensions. Blocker says its about 280 feet down the foul lines.
Wabash Little League serves Wabash County and feeds players to Southwood, Manchester, Northfield and Wabash high schools.
Southwood (enrollment around 250) is a member of the Three Rivers Conference (with Maconaquah, Manchester, Northfield, North Miami, Peru, Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko).
In recent seasons, TRC teams met each other once during the season. There is no conference tournament.
The Knights part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023 with Caston, North Miami, North White, Northfield and West Central. Southwood has won five sectional titles — the last in 2021.
A 2009 graduate of Huntington (Ind.) North High School, Blocker played four years of football, three of baseball and two of basketball. His head coaches were Rief Gilg (the Vikings went 8-3 in 2008, Blocker’s senior year on the gridiron), Russ Degitz and Eric Foister.
“A lot of our time in baseball was spent with the little details,” says Blocker of Degitz. “He was a big fundamental guy.
“They were all coaches that were hard on you but cared about you at the same time and made sure that was relayed in everything they did.”
Blocker spent two years at Purdue University and four at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, graduating in 2015.
Cory and Brittany Blocker have been married five years. The couple resides in Wabash and has three children — daughter Wrenley (3), son Wesley (1 1/2) and daughter Willow (almost eight months).