Jack Van Remortel was born and raised in the middle of America. Baseball has allowed him to see the USA from from coast-to-coast. And he’s only 23. Carmel, Ind., native Van Remortel is a fifth-year senior first baseman at the University of Michigan. The Wolverines were to open the 2023 home season today (March 8) after games in Arizona, California and Texas. “It’s good to play some high-quality opponents early in the season,” says Van Remortel, whose already gone against Fresno State, Michigan State, UC San Diego, Grand Canyton, Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, UC Irvine, UCLA, Texas Christian, Texas Tech and Louisville. “You learn the things you need to work on as a team. “I always think about how awesome it is where the game of baseball takes you. Being able to see these cool parks and places is really neat.” Van Remortel went to the Wolverines after graduating from Carmel High School in 2018. He appeared in 16 Michigan games as a pinch-hitter and in the infield in 2019 then played for the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Sanford (Maine) Mariners. “That was a great experience,” says Van Remortel. “I got my first taste of summer ball.” The 2020 NCAA season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic and Van Remortel got into two U-M games with one at-bat. At the suggestion of then-Wolverines head coach Erik Bakich, Van Remortel went to Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., to play for Jeremiah Robbins in 2020-21 with the idea of coming back to Michigan. “I went to get some at-bats and some experience,” says Van Remortel, who appeared in 37 games and rapped four home runs and drove in 28 runs in for the IronHawks. Relationships and connections took Van Remortel to Oregon. Michigan catcher Casey Buckley, who also went from Michigan to Umpqua and back to the Wolverines, is a California native and the son of Troy Buckley (now pitching coach at Fresno State). The elder Buckley is a friend of Bakich and Robbins, who led Lewis and Clark State to three titles (2015, 2016 and 2017) and two runner-up finishes at the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. “I went out there for Coach Robbins and to learn under him,” says Van Remortel, who briefly played with the 2021 Bellingham (Wash.) Bells of the West Coast League before experiencing a ankle injury and went back to that team for a month in the summer of 2022. “I’ve been all over the country,” says Van Remortel. Primarily a third baseman in high school, Van Remortel has found a home at first base and explains how he approaches the position. “When I’m on the field I always like to be talking and communicating,” says Van Remortel. “That’s important. And then just being the steady force over there. Having some stability at that spot is key. A lot of plays go through first base. “Baseball is really catching and throwing the ball when you break it down on defense. Being able to make those long throws is an advantage.” A Sport Management major, Van Remortel is scheduled to graduate in the spring. What’s next? “My passion is in baseball,” says Van Remortel. “I’ve always wanted to stay in sports. Recently I’ve leaned toward coaching. “Coaching college players is something I’d be really passionate about. I’ve learned a lot in college. It’s a great age to grow and develop.” Van Remortel got his start in travel ball with Indiana Mustangs and played for the Indiana Nitro then several years with the Indiana Bulls. A four-year varsity player at Carmel, Van Remortel had Dan Roman as head coach his freshman and sophomore seasons and Matt Buczkowski for his junior and senior campaigns for the Greyhounds. “It’s kind of cool to see how different people approach the game. Having two different perspectives from Coach Roman and Coach Buczkowski is really good,” says Van Remortel, who was all-state and all-conference in baseball and all-conference in football at Carmel. He is seeing another perspective this season in Ann Arbor. Tracy Smith, a graduate of South Newton High School in Kentland, Ind., and former head coach at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), Indiana University and Arizona State University, is now head coach at Michigan. Three members of Smith’s staff — associate head coach/recruiting coordinator Ben Greenspan, pitching coach Brock Huntzinger and director of operations Danny Stolper — worked with him at ASU. Former big league catcher, Indiana University and Terre Haute North Vigo High School product Josh Phegley is Director of Player Development for the Wolverines. Tyler Graham is volunteer coach/hitting instructor. Hunter Satterthwaite is director of data analytics. Jack is the oldest of David and Kelly Van Remortel’s two children. Lauren Van Remortel is 21 and a senior volleyball player at Northern Michigan University. David Van Remortel played rugby at University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. Kelly (Niedbalski) Van Remortel played volleyball at Purdue University. Uncle Chris Gambol played offensive line at the University of Iowa and in the National Football League for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and New England Patriots.
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).
Three years after throwing his last collegiate pitch, Indianapolis native Kenny Ogg has a joined a Major League Baseball affiliate. Ogg, a right-hander who graduated from Lawrence Central High School in 2015 and Ohio University in 2020, is with the Arizona Complex League Diamondbacks Black after beginning the 2022 season with the independent Frontier League’s Joliet (Ill.) Slammers. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder who turns 25 on July 4 has made five relief appearances since being signed by D-backs indy ball scout Chris Carminucci. Ogg threw at a February showcase in Arizona — where he now trains and works for facility owner and Oakland Athletics throwing performance coach Casey Upperman — and was told if he put up good numbers at the beginning of the season they would likely sign him. “That’s essentially what happened,” says Ogg, who went 2-1 with a 2.84 earned run average in three starts with Joliet. He pitched for Ohio from 2016-19. In 64 games (14 starts), he was 8-11 with a 4.96 ERA. He struck out 101 and walked 67 in 161 1/3 innings. He spent a few weeks in the summer of the 2019 with the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League’s Birmingham Bloomfield (Mich.) Beavers. Ogg was a graduate assistant at OU while completing his Specialized Studies degree with an emphasis on Health and Service Administration and Communications in 2020. In September of 2020, Ogg moved to the Phoenix area and trained in the off-season. He was still training and teaching lessons when he caught on with the independent Pioneer League’s Boise (Idaho) Hawks at the end of the 2021 season. In 13 games out of the bullpen, he was 1-0 with two saves and a 5.30 ERA. Ogg has a large repertoire of pitches — sinker, cutter, change-up, slider and cutter. “I’ve never thrown a four-seamer, always a two-seamer,” says Ogg. “My sinker and cutter are close to the same speed. “My change-up is similar to my sinker. It has run and some depth to it, too. My slider is a work in progress. I’m trying to decide whether to go more traditional or gyro.” While he describe his arm angle as high three-quarter, that is not his focus. “It’s less about where my arm is and more about where my shoulder plane is,” says Ogg. “The more tilt I have with my shoulder plane the higher my arm slot.” Born in Indianapolis, Kenny grew up in Lawrence Township and was coached up until high school by father Orien Ogg (now a substitute teacher and Irvington Prep Academy assistant). Andy Arnett coached alongside Orien with the Oaklandon Bombers. Kenny played at Oaklandon Youth Organization, the OYO Bombers and then for USAthletic (coached by Mark Westlake), the Giants Fall Scout Team (Kevin Christman) and the Indiana Dirtbags (Jim Reboulet). While at Lawrence Central, Dan Roman was the LC head coach his freshman year with Matt Buczkowski in charge his final three seasons. “He’s a great mentor,” says Ogg of Buczkowski (who is now head coach at Carmel High School). “Whenever I have any baseball news he’s one of my first calls. He taught a lot about baseball in high school and he continues to do that when I go home. “(Former Lawrence Central and current Carmel assistant) Fred Moses was a big part of developing my mechanics in high school and college.” Kenny’s mother is interior designer Kimberly Curry. His sister is Katie Ogg (27).
Iliana Christian won its first Indiana High School Athletic Association sectional baseball title. Jasper hoisted the sectional championship trophy for a state-leading 40th time. Sixty-two other schools also reigned and moved on to regional play on Saturday, June 4. The IHSAA Class 2A Carroll Flora Regional features four teams from the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 10 — No. 1 Carroll, No. 3 Wapahani, No. 4 Eastern (Greentown) and No. 9 Delphi. The 2A Park Tudor Regional has No. 2 Cascade playing No. 7 Centerville in the first game followed by Parke Heritage and vote-getter Heritage Christian. The 3A Griffith Regional includes No. 1 Andrean, No. 2 Western and No. 7 Glenn along with South Bend Saint Joseph. The 3A Danville Regional includes No. 3 West Vigo and No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit in the opener followed by Lebanon and Beech Grove. The 4A Jasper Regional features No. 2 Mooresville, No. 8 Jasper and vote-getter New Albany plus Columbus East. The 4A Lafayette Jeff Regional opens with vote-getter Homestead against No. 6 Fort Wayne Carroll followed by Harrison against Zionsville. In 1A, the Loogootee Regional has No. 1 Borden meeting No. 2 Barr-Reeve in Game 2 after vote-getter Tecumseh plays New Washington.
The 1A he South Bend Washington Regional has three Top 10 teams — No. 4 South Central (Union Mills), No. 9 Caston and No. 10 Fremont — plus Morgan Township. The 1A Lafayette Central Catholic Regional features vote-getters Cowan and Rossville in Game 1 and No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic and No. 5 Union City in Game 2. Three teams at the 1A Morristown Regional received votes in the final regular season poll — Indianapolis Lutheran, Rising Sun and Shakamak. Traders Point Christian is also in the field. South Central of Union Mills (6), Indianapolis Cathedral (5), Silver Creek (5), South Bend Saint Joseph (5), Evansville Memorial (4), Shakamak (4) and Tecumseh (4) comes into regional play with the longest active sectional title streaks. 1A New Washington won its first sectional crown since 1998. It had been since 1999 that 2A’s Eastern (Greentown) and Winamac had won sectional titles. By the time three-team regionals in four classes are complete, there will be 16 teams left in the field. Semistates are scheduled for Saturday, June 11 with the State Finals at Victory Field in Indianapolis Friday and Saturday, June 17-18.
2022 IHSAA REGIONALS Saturday, June 4 (IHSBCA Ranking in Parentheses) Class 4A LaPorte Regional Crown Point vs. Lake Central (Receiving Votes) South Bend Adams vs. Penn Championship Regional titles (most recent): Penn 10 (2017), Crown Point 9 (2011), Lake Central 7 (2014), South Bend Adams 3 (1979).
Highland Sectional (1) Championship — Lake Central 15, Highland 12. Sectional titles through 2022: Highland (13) — Previous 2000. Trojans head coach: John Bogner.
Valparsaiso Sectional (2) Championship — Crown Point 12, Hobart 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Crown Point (22) — Previous 2019. Bulldogs head coach: Steve Strayer.
Plymouth Sectional (3) Championship — South Bend Adams 5, LaPorte 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Adams (10) — Previous 2018. Eagles head coach: Mike Cass.
Penn Sectional (4) Championship — Penn 7, Northridge 5. Sectional titles through 2022: Penn (23) — Previous 2018. Kingsmen head coach: Greg Dikos.
Lafayette Jeff Regional Homestead (RV) vs. Carroll (6) Harrison vs. Zionsville Championship Regional titles (most recent): Carroll 5 (2011), Harrison 5 (1998), Zionsville 4 (2017), Homestead 3 (2015).
DeKalb Sectional (5) Championship — Carroll 7, Snider 6. Sectional titles through 2022: Carroll (15) — Previous 2019. Chargers head coach: Dave Ginder.
Huntington North Sectional (6) Championship — Homestead 10, Wayne 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Homestead (16) — Previous 2021. Spartans head coach: Nick Byall.
Logansport Sectional (7) Championship — Harrison 5, McCutcheon 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Harrison (13) — Previous 2021. Raiders head coach: Pat Lowrey.
New Palestine Regional Anderson vs. Indianapolis Cathedral New Palestine vs. Brownsburg Championship Regional titles (most recent): Indianapolis Cathedral 14 (2018), New Palestine 6 (2014), Brownsburg 5 (2005), Anderson 3 (1995).
Mt. Vernon Sectional (9) Championship — Anderson 13, Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 7. Sectional titles through 2022: Anderson (8) — Previous 2012. Indians head coach: Adrian Heim.
Pike Sectional (10) Championship — Indianapolis Cathedral 10, Lawrence North 8. Sectional titles through 2022: Cathedral (25; five straight) — Previous 2021. Fighting Irish coach Ed Freje.
Roncalli Sectional (11) Championship — New Palestine 12, Franklin Central 2. Sectional titles through 2022: New Palestine (17) — Previous 2015. Dragons head coach: Shawn Lyons.
Terre Haute South Vigo Sectional (12) Championship — Brownsburg 13, Avon 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Brownsburg (15) — Previous 2013. Bulldogs head coach: Dan Roman.
Jasper Regional New Albany (RV) vs. Jasper (8) Columbus East vs. Mooresville (2) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Jasper 26 (2021), Columbus East 10 (2019), New Albany 6 (1995), Mooresville 4 (2004).
Center Grove Sectional (13) Championship — Mooresville 9, Martinsville 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Mooresville (11) — Previous 2004. Pioneers head coach: Eric McGaha.
Bloomington South Sectional (14) Championship — Bloomington South vs. Columbus East Sectional titles through 2022: Columbus East (20) — Previous 2019. Olympians head coach Jon Gratz.
Jennings County Sectional (15) Championship — New Albany 4, Bedford North Lawrence 0. Sectional titles through 2022: New Albany (23) — Previous 2016. Bulldogs head coach: Chris McIntyre.
Evansville Reitz Sectional (16) Championship — Jasper 5, Castle 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Jasper (40) — Previous 2021. Wildcats head coach: Terry Gobert.
Class 3A Griffith Regional Western (2) vs. Glenn (7) Andrean (1) vs. South Bend Saint Joseph Championship Regional titles (most recent): Andrean 14 (2019), Western 7 (2016), Saint Joseph 5 (2017), Glenn 3 (2006).
Griffith Sectional (17) Championship — Andrean 18, Calumet New Tech 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Andrean (30) — Previous 2019. 59ers head coach: Dave Pishkur.
Kankakee Valley Sectional (18) Championship — Glenn 9, Hanover Central 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Glenn (10) — Previous 2017. Falcons head coach: John Nadolny.
South Bend Clay Sectional (19) Championship — South Saint Joseph 18, New Prairie 5. Sectional titles through 2022: Saint Joseph (17; five straight) — Previous 2017. Indians head coach: John Smolinski.
Northwestern Sectional (20) Championship — Western 6, Northwestern 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Western (21) — Previous 2019. Panthers coach: Ryan Berryman.
Oak Hill Regional Wawasee vs. New Castle (RV) Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger vs. Norwell Championship Regional titles (most recent): Norwell 7 (2021), Dwenger 2 (2014), New Castle 2 (1996), Wawasee 0.
Jimtown Sectional (21) Championship — Wawasee 9, NorthWood 5. Sectional titles through 2022: Wawasee (8) — Previous 2021. Warriors head coach: Joe Salazar.
Angola Sectional (22) Championship — Bishop Dwenger 19, Leo 8. Sectional titles through 2022: Dwenger (12) — Previous 2016. Saints head coach: Jason Garrett.
Bellmont Sectional (23) Championship — Norwell 12, Heritage 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Norwell (18) — Previous 2021. Knights head coach: Dave Goodmiller.
Yorktown Sectional (24) Championship — New Castle 3, Guerin Catholic 2. Sectional titles through 2022: New Castle (14) — Previous 2014. Trojans head coach: Josh Cooper.
Danville Regional West Vigo (3) vs. Brebeuf Jesuit (4) Lebanon vs. Beech Grove Championship Regional titles (most recent): West Vigo 7 (2015), Brebeuf 4 (2021), Beech Grove 3 (1990), Lebanon 0.
Crawfordsville Sectional (25) Championship — Lebanon 10, Northview 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Lebanon (12) — Previous 2014. Tigers head coach Rick Cosgray.
Danville Sectional (26) Championship — Brebeuf Jesuit 12, Tri-West Hendricks 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Brebeuf (16) — Previous 2014. Braves head coach: Jeff Scott.
Bishop Chatard Sectional (27) Championship — Beech Grove 4, Bishop Chatard 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Beech Grove (7) — Previous 2014. Hornets head coach: Jacob Wickliff.
Edgewood Sectional (28) Championship — West Vigo 4, Edgewood 3. Sectional titles through 2022: West Vigo (15) — Previous 2018. Vikings head coach: Culley DeGroote.
Southridge Regional Evansville Memorial vs. Vincennes Lincoln Silver Creek (5) vs. Connersville Championship Regional titles (most recent): Evansville Memorial 17 (2016), Connersville 6 (2006), Vincennes Lincoln 4 (2002), Silver Creek 2 (2019).
Rushville Sectional (29) Championship — Connersville 7, Franklin County 6. Sectional titles through 2022: Connersville (19) — Previous 2010. Spartans head coach Michael Thompson.
Madison Sectional (30) Championship — Silver Creek vs. Corydon Central Sectional titles through 2022: Silver Creek (11; five straight) — Previous 2021. Dragons head coach: Joe Decker.
Princeton Sectional (31) Championship — Vincennes Lincoln 7, Southridge 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Vincennes Lincoln (18) — Previous 2019. Alices head coach: Tim Hutchison.
Evansville Bosse Sectional (32) Championship — Evansville Memorial 9, Boonville 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Evansville Memorial (31; four straight) — Previous 2021. Tigers head coach: Rip Collins.
Class 2A Whiting Regional Eastside (RV) vs. Fairfield (RV) Winamac vs. Illiana Christian Championship Regional titles (most recent): Eastside 1 (2021), Fairfield 1 (2010), Illiana Christian 0, Winamac 0.
Whiting Sectional (33) Championship — Illiana Christian 16, Wheeler 4. Sectional titles through 2022: — Illiana Christian (1) — Previous None. Vikings head coach Jeff VanderWoude.
Boone Grove Sectional (34) Championship — Winamac 8, Boone Grove 7. Sectional titles through 2022: Winamac (4) — Previous 1999. Warriors head coach: Marcus Kay.
Delphi Sectional (38) Championship — Delphi 9, Seeger 7. Sectional titles through 2022: Delphi (7) — Previous 2021. Oracles head coach: Ryan Long.
Eastern (Greentown) Sectional (39) Championship — Eastern (Greentown) 13, Eastbrook 4 Sectional titles through 2022: Eastern (Greentown) (3) — Previous 1999. Comets head coach: Erik Hisner.
Frankton Sectional (40) Championship — Wapahani 15, Frankton 10. Sectional titles through 2022: Wapahani (18) — Previous 2021. Raiders head coach: Brian Dudley.
Park Tudor Regional Cascade (2) vs. Centerville (7) Parke Heritage vs. Heritage Christian (RV) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Heritage Christian 3 (2010), Cascade 0, Centerville 0, Parke Heritage 0.
Indianapolis Scecina Sectional (42) Championship — Heritage Christian 12, Indianapolis Scecina 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Heritage Christian (9) — Previous 2017. Eagles head coach: Dan Ambrose.
Park Tudor Sectional (43) Championship — Cascade 6, Covenant Christian 5 Sectional titles through 2022: Cascade (7) — Previous 2005. Cadets head coach: Ty Foster.
Parke Heritage Sectional (44) Championship — Parke Heritage 9, Southmont 8. Sectional titles through 2022: Parke Heritage (2) — Previous 2021. Wolves head coach: Charlie Martin.
Evansville Mater Dei Regional Linton-Stockton vs. North Decatur Forest Park (8) vs. Providence Championship Regional titles (most recent): Providence 7 (2021), Forest Park 1 (1976), Linton-Stockton 0, North Decatur 0.
South Ripley Sectional (45) Championship — North Decatur 5, Southwestern (Hanover) 1. Sectional titles through 2022: North Decatur (2) — Previous 2011. Chargers head coach: Christian McKinney.
Providence Sectional (46) Championship — Providence 9, Austin 8. Providence (20) — Previous 2021. Pioneers head coach: Scott Hutchins.
Mitchell Sectional (47) Championship — Linton-Stockton 8, Mitchell 7 Sectional titles through 2022: Linton-Stockton (11) — Previous 2021. Miners head coach: Jacob Harden.
Evansville Mater Dei Sectional (48) Championship — Forest Park 10, Tell City 0. Forest Park (5) — Previous 2002. Rangers head coach: Jarred Howard.
Class 1A South Bend Washington Regional South Central (Union Mills) (4) vs. Caston (9) Fremont (10) vs. Morgan Township Championship Regional titles (most recent): South Central 4 (2011), Fremont 2 (1999), Caston 0, Morgan Township 0.
Westville Sectional (49) Championship — Morgan Township 16, Marquette Catholic 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Morgan Township (5) — Previous 2018. Cherokees head coach: John Smith.
South Central (Union Mills) Sectional (50) Championship — South Central (Union Mills) 10, Oregon-Davis 0. Sectional titles through 2022: South Central (18; six straight) — Previous 2021. Satellites head coach: Zach Coulter.
Fremont Sectional (51) Championship — Fremont 23, Bethany Christian 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Fremont (8) — Previous 2018. Eagles head coach: Justin Bock.
Caston Sectional (52) Championship — Caston 3, North Miami 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Caston (2) — Previous 2012. Comets head coach: Blake Mollenkopf.
Lafayette Central Catholic Regional Cowan (RV) vs. Rossville (RV) Union City (5) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (3) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Lafayette Central Catholic 14 (2018), Cowan 4 (2021), Rossville 3 (2019), Union City 0.
Lafayette Central Catholic Sectional (53) Championship — Lafayette Central Catholic 10, Covington 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Lafayette Central Catholic (18) — Previous 2018. Knights head coach: Tim Bordenet.
Tri-County Sectional (54) Championship — Rossville 12, Clinton Central 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Rossville (7) — Previous 2019. Hornets head coach: Brad Scott.
Anderson Preparatory Sectional (55) Championship — Cowan 5, Wes-Del 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Cowan (8) — Previous 2021. Blackhawks head coach: Aaron Wells.
Seton Catholic Sectional (56) Championship — Union City 9, Blue River Valley 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Union City (4) — Previous 2021. Indians head coach: Jason Dowler.
Morristown Regional Rising Sun (RV) vs. Shakamak (RV) Traders Point Christian vs. Indianapolis Lutheran (RV) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Shakamak 13 (2021), Indianapolis Lutheran 1 (2017), Rising Sun 1 (2013), Traders Point Christian 0.
Shakamak Sectional (57) Championship — Shakamak 14, White River Valley 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Shakamak (27; four straight) — Previous 2021. Lakers head coach: Jeremy Yeryar.
Indiana Deaf Sectional (58) Championship — Traders Point Christian 9, Bethesda Christian 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Traders Point Christian (2) — Previous 2021. Knights head coach: Jaylen Cushenberry.
Morristown Sectional (59) Championship — Indianapolis Lutheran 12, Edinburgh 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Indianapolis Lutheran (14) — Previous 2019. Saints head coach: Adam Gouker.
Jac-Cen-Del Sectional (60) Championship — Rising Sun 2, Jac-Cen-Del 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Rising Sun (8) — Previous 2019. Shiners head coach: Kevin Wirsch.
Loogootee Regional New Washington vs. Tecumseh (RV) Barr-Reeve (2) vs. Borden (1) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Tecumseh 10 (2019), Barr-Reeve 2 (1998), Borden 1 (2021), New Washington 0.
Lanesville Sectional (61) Championship — Borden 12, Lanesville 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Borden (6) — Previous 2021. Braves head coach: Eric Stotts.
Shawe Memorial Sectional (62) Championship — New Washington 8, West Washington 7. Sectional titles through 2022: New Washington (2) — Previous 1998. Mustangs head coach: Jeremy Bower.
Loogootee Sectional (63) Championship — Barr-Reeve 9, North Daviess 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Barr-Reeve (13) — Previous 2019. Vikings head coach: Trevor McConnell.
Cannelton Sectional (64) Championship — Tecumseh 11, Springs Valley 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Tecumseh (17; four straight) — Previous 2021. Braves head coach: Ted Thompson.
Nick Spence wants to bring pep to the steps of ballplayers in yet another part of Hendricks County, Ind. Spence, who played and coached at nearby Brownsburg (Ind.) High School and coached at neighboring Avon (Ind.) High School, was hired as head baseball coach at Tri-West High School in Lizton, Ind., in August 2021 and set about spreading his enthusiasm from the youth level on up. “I want my kids to be excited to be a part of Tri-West baseball,” says Spence. “It’s easier to get kids to play when they’re excited to come to the ballpark. “I’ve gotten nothing but positive vibes from the community.” The fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period was mostly about getting to know athletes and showing them what he plans to implement. “I’m pretty fiery and I’m energetic,” says Spence. “We want competition to come through with whatever we’re doing. Baseball is an individual game played by a team. “Baseball is a sport of failure and you have to learn from failure. Don’t let it come to your next AB or on the mound with you.” A big believer in situational baseball, Spence prefers to devote his practices to either offense or defense. “I’m not a big station guy,” says Spence, who looks forward to the first official IHSAA practice date of March 14. Spence’s coaching staff includes Bryan Engelbrecht and Adam Montgomery with the varsity, Gordie Lucas and James Miller with the JV and Mike Gongwer as youth coordinator. Engelbrecht is a longtime Tri-West coach. Montgomery and Gongwer were with Spence at Avon. He wants establish his system and spread the excitement at the youngest levels. “In the past, we’ve had a really good community-based program at Tri-West,” says Spence, who remarried on Dec. 20, 2021 and lives with wife Allison in Pittsboro, Ind. (Nick has three children from a previous marriage all attending Brownsburg schools — junior Madyson (who turns 17 next week), eighth grader Easton (14) and fifth grader Maya (10). “I’ve been working with youth directors, trying to get that back.” Younger players will be involved with Tri-West Little League and Bruin Heat. Spence says he can see that morphing into the Tri-West Baseball Club by 2023. That’s when Tri-West High is scheduled to debut a four-field baseball/softball complex. “They’re starting to push dirt,” says Spence of the project that will bring varsity and junior varsity grass fields with stadium seating, netting and more. In addition, coaches offices and a hitting tunnel will be located on the north end of the football field. “It’ll beautiful.” Spence played for Wayne Johnson and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Pat O’Neil at Brownsburg High, graduating in 2001, and served as JV coach in 2006 and 2007 then helped current Bulldogs head coach Dan Roman as pitching coach in 2021. Spence counts 2009 Brownsburg graduate Tucker Barnhart as his best friend and was the best man in Barnhart’s wedding. Tucker is now a catcher with the Detroit Tigers. An Indiana Bulls assistant to Troy Drosche during the travel ball season, Spence was the pitching coach on Drosche’s Avon High staff for five years while the Orioles won sectional titles in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and a regional crown in 2019. Spence has also coached with the Bill Sampen-led Indiana Expos travel organization. Spence’s college playing career included one season on the field each pitching for Dennis Conley at Olney (Ill.) Central College, Tim Bunton at Danville (Ill.) Area Community College and Joe Decker at Indiana University Southeast. He went to spring training with the independent Evansville (Ind.) Otters then began focusing on helping others. “I always wanted to coach,” says Spence. “I always wanted to be involved.” Spence has also been an assistant to Bulldogs head coach Mike Silva (now head coach at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La.) at Clarendon (Texas) College, where Adrian Dinkel (now head coach at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.) was an assistant. He landed there after meeting Silva at a tournament in Stillwater, Okla., while working for Tom Davidson and Blake Hibler at Pastime Tournaments. Indiana Tech head coach Kip McWilliams had Spence on his staff for one season. Tri-West (enrollment around 630) is a member of the Sagamore Athletic Conference (with Crawfordsville, Danville Community (coached by Pat O’Neil), Frankfort, Lebanon, North Montgomery, Southmont and Western Boone). In 2021, the Bruins were part of the IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Brebeuf Jesuit, Danville Community, Greencastle and Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter. Tri-West has won seven sectional crowns — the last in 2018. Recent Tri-West baseball players Riley Bennett (Trine University) and Kai Ross (DePauw University football) have moved on to college sports.
Tommy Sommer knows the value of speed and pitch movement. But the 10th-round selection in the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox also sees the value in poise under pressure. Now 22. Sommer has been doing it since he was young. “I have really good feel for the game and I’ve always been good at managing situations,” says Sommer, who pitched four seasons (2018-21) at Indiana University. “All those things come naturally to me. “Velocity and off-speed pitches are important, but handling emotions is taken for granted,” says Somer. “All of that stuff is an asset to me. “My dad is a big inspiration. He was a pro athlete. I’ve been in locker rooms since 3 and 4 years old.” Tommy was in some high-pressure moments during his travel ball days with the Indiana Bulls and saw his father — former soccer goalkeeper Juergen Sommer — on some big stages. The elder Juergen, who shined at Culver Military Academy and IU, earned 10 caps on the U.S. National Team, and was he first American goalie to play in the FA Premier League. Juergen was playing for Major League Soccer’s Columbus (Ohio) Crew when oldest son Tommy was born and the New England Revolution (Boston) when youngest son Noah (now 19 and a Pre-Medical student at Vanderbilt University) came into the world. He has coached keepers for the U.S. Men’s National team and for the Indy Eleven and runs Carmel FC. Tommy Sommer played soccer while growing up, but fell in love with the diamond. “Baseball has carved a great path for me,” says Sommer, who has done from playing wiffleball in the back yard in Columbus with mother Susie (who is now a realtor) to T-ball at First Baptist Church after the family moved to Carmel, Ind., to travel ball (Smithville Gators, Indiana Nitro and then the Indiana Bulls in high school — three summers with Dave Taylor as head coach and two with Sean Laird at 16U and 17U). “(Taylor) let us grow as baseball players and would teach from mistakes,” says Sommer. “(Laird) was more hands-on. He wanted you to put your best foot forward and hold yourself accountable. “He wanted you to be more aggressive. You’re going after something (a college scholarship or pro contract) and developing a future in the game.” Sommer graduated in 2017 from Carmel High School, where he played three seasons for Dan Roman and one for Matt Buczkowski. He appreciates the opportunities afforded by both Greyhounds bench bosses. When it came deciding on college, Sommer was more than familiar with IU with his family’s ties to the school. “We had family gatherings in Brown County,” says Sommer. “It was almost too comfortable.” He was enticed by offers from Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference schools, but Sommer saw in Indiana the chance to play right away in the competitive Big Ten Conference. He played one season with Chris Lemonis as head coach and Kyle Bunn as pitching coach and three with Jeff Mercer and Justin Parker in those roles. Sommer made 45 mound appearances (24 as a starter) with a 13-9 record, two saves and a 3.17 earned run average. In 157 2/3 innings, he struck out 160 and walked 71. He helped the Hoosiers win the Big Ten regular-season title in 2019. In 2021, the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder made 12 starts and went 5-4 with a 4.60 ERA. He fanned 69 and walked 38 in 62 2/3 innings. He also earned a Finance degree from IU’s Kelley School of Business in May. Prior to the MLB Draft, Sommer pitched three innings for the Cape Cod League’s Falmouth Commodores. He was on the Cape when the White Sox picked him and is now at a mini-camp in Birmingham, Ala. After that, some will go to Glendale, Ariz., and on to affiliate teams. The top four farm teams in the system are the Low Class-A Kannapolis (N.C.) Cannon Ballers, High Class-A Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash, Double-A Birmingham Barons and Triple-A Charlotte (N.C.) Knights. After a shortened 2020 season at IU because of COVID-19, Sommer pitched in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. “It was fun toe play with kids I played with or against for a decade,” says Sommer. “It was a unique experience.” He also got the chance to work with pitching instructor Jay Lehr at Pro X Athlete Development at Grand Park. In the winter, Sommer had gone to The Barn in Lapel and got pointers from White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Mike Shirley and White Sox area scout Justin Wechsler, a Pendleton (Ind.) Heights High School graduate who pitched at Ball State University and in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. In 2019, Sommer was a substitute arm for the Prospect League’s Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex while also rehabbing from knee surgery and training with Lehr. The lefty was with the Northwoods League’s Kalamazoo (Mich.) Growlers in the summer of 2018. Sommer throws a four-seam fastball which sits between 88 to 92 mph. He also employs a cutter which runs away from left-handed batters and into right-handers. “I want to induce weak contact,” says Sommer of the cutter. “It’s a good pitch in counts where someone is hunting a fastball. “You get them off thinking they’re in a dead-red fastball count.” The change-up is where Sommer gets strikeouts in the bottom of the strike zone. “It spins sideways and drops off the table,” says Sommer. “There is vertical depth and halo spin. It’s the opposite of a gyro ball.” Sommer mixes in his curve to let hitters know that’s a part of his arsenal.
Pearson, who has been a high school assistant at Noblesville (2011), Carmel (2012-16) and Indianapolis Cathedral(2017-19), takes over the Trojans with the idea of helping his student-athletes achieve their goals.
“It has been awhile since New Castle has won a baseball sectional title (2014) and my guys are hungry! So far, they have been doing a great job of listening to instructions, and pushing each other to get better.
“They all have had the mindset that we have talked to them about since Day 1 and that is to get at least 1 percent better every day in whatever it is that they do — whether that is within the game of baseball or improving on being a better teammate.”
The IHSAA Limited Contact Period for fall (Sept. 2-Oct. 19) saw the Trojans get together to get better.
“At a smaller school like New Castle (about 940 students compared to 1,100 at Cathedral), a lot of our student-athletes play a fall sport,” says Pearson. “So our numbers are not as high as what I am used too, but with those that did come out they were able to learn a lot.
“Those that were able to be at fall workouts know what to expect from a practice standpoint under the new staff, on a baseball diamond. So, I envision them to be the leaders once we get back out there in the spring, being able to help teach what to do and when to do things when we transition from one drill to the next.”
What will the Trojans do until the next Limited Contact Period (which begins Dec. 9)?
“I like to give the players some time away and give them some time to rest,” says Pearson. “So all of November they will have off. Once we hit December, we will start getting into the weight room and working on conditioning.
“Then when we get back from winter break, we will continue in the weight room but start to add baseball back in the mix, getting our guys arms ready to go for the season, get in the cage, work on fundamental glove work, and position communication.”
New Castle’s coaching staff features varsity assistants Zak Kellogg, Tyler Smith and Matt Chernoff, junior varsity head coach Frank McMahon and JV assistant A.J. York. Kellogg will work with catchers and hitter, Smith with corner infielders and hitter, Chernoff with outfielders and baserunners and McMahon will be assistant pitching coach to Pearson.
Pearson was the pitching coach at Cathedral with Ed Freje as head coach. The Irish went 29-0 and won the IHSAA Class 4A state championship in 2017.
Pearson played for Eric Lentz at Carmel, graduating in 2006.
“One of the big things I got from Coach Lentz was how he as a coach would allow us players to just be us,” says Pearson. “He allowed us to just play the game and didn’t over coach us in any aspect.
“He knew that our group had been playing together for a very long time and I think he appreciated the cohesiveness that we had together.”
An arm injury in his senior season ended Pearson’s playing career. He graduated from Purdue University in 2011 with a degree in Physical Education.
“Obviously, coaching under Ed Frieje, Dan Roman and Justin Keever has been huge for me,” says Pearson. “All three of them have won a state titles as head coaches.
“I have taken a lot from all three of them, both about the game of baseball and building positive relationships with players and families.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for guys like Jay Lehr. Jay was my pitching instructor as a kid and once I started coaching myself he took me under his wing and continued to teaching me new things about pitching.
“I’m also very lucky to have another coach in my family with my cousin Dave Scott. The year we won the state championship at Cathedral, Dave was also able to lead Cardinal Ritter to a state championship win.
“Him and I have a pretty close relationship, so he has taught me quite a bit about what it takes to be a head coach.
“He has been a lot of help in the short time period that we have known each other,” says Pearson of Bunnell. “Chris Truby (Philadelphia Phillies infield coordinator) has also been a mentor of mine. Having spent several winters in the batting cages with him teaching kids, I’ve been pretty lucky to pick up a lot of knowledge from him.
“I could probably go on and on, but I have definitely been blessed to have played for great coaches — in high school and through summer ball, and to have coached under some of the best coaches around.”
That being said, Brad’s biggest mentor is his father — Ron Pearson.
“My dad was the one who introduced me to the game that I love,” says Brad, who is Ron and Karen Pearson’s only child. “He was my first coach and the best coach a son could ask for!”
The Trojans are part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Delta, Guerin Catholic, Hamilton Heights, Jay County and Yorktown. New Castle has won 13 sectional titles.
Pearson plans to be in close contact with his New Castle feeder programs.
“I am a sounding board for the Little League and Babe Ruth,” says Pearson. “They have had a lot of success in their own right and I want them to continue to have that success and build upon it.
“Anything they need from me I will be there to give my advice/opinion. I have told them that this isn’t MY program, it is OUR program. Yes, I may be the leader at the top, but we are all in this together!”
Pearson is hoping to get a lot of things done at the Trojans home diamond — Sunnyside Field.
“To be honest I have quite a wish list, but as we all know everything takes money and we are working to raise that money to help make Sunnyside Field, not only better for tomorrow but better for our future Trojans ways down the road,” says Pearson.
A P.E. and Health teacher at New Castle Middle School, Pearson is a bachelor.
Cousins Brad Pearson (left) and Dave Scott were part of IHSAA state baseball champions in 2017 — Pearson as pitching coach at Indianapolis Cathedral and Scott as head coach at Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter.
Brad Pearson, a graduate of Carmel (Ind.) High School and Purdue University, is now the head baseball coach at New Castle (Ind.) High School.
After assistant stints at Indianapolis Cathedral, Carmel and Noblesville, Brad Pearson is now the head baseball coach at New Castle (Ind.) High School. The 2006 Carmel graduate also coaches in the summer with the Indiana Bulls.
The Indianapolis native will soon experience new things and share his bat and ball knowledge on the other side of the globe.
“I’m ready to learn something different,” says Quarles, who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in sports management from the University of Southern Indiana (2017 and 2019), where he played baseball. “I would love to learn a second language.”
The former Screaming Eagles outfielder/designated hitter will get a chance to pick up a Mandarin dialect spoken in Tianjin, China.
After a week of training in Beijing, Lawrence Central High School graduate Quarles and Bishop Chatard High School and Kentucky Wesleyan College grad Moralez will move about 70 miles southeast to the metropolis of Tianjin. With the help of translators, they will teach players ages 3 to 18.
“The contract is a full year,” says Quarles. “We get holidays off, but not enough time to come home.
“In the ninth or 10th month, we can negotiate for a second year.”
At 25, Moralez is also ready for adventure and getting himself experience toward his goal of coaching at the international level. He was recruited by D-BAT director of China Operations David Fisher and sent a resume and video montage.
“A lot of people don’t get to do this kind of stuff,” says Moralez. “I might as well take advantage of it.”
Quarles and Moralez have known each other since they were 9. Jaylen was playing for the Indiana Pony Express and Andrew, who moved to Indiana from Colorado at 6, the Westfield (Ind.) Indians. From 11 to 18, the two were summer mates with the Pony Express.
Jon Richardson was the leader of that travel organization.
“Jon was a really good influence on us when we were younger,” says Moralez, who later coached at 17U Pony Express team for Richardson. “He kept us accountable.
“I can’t being to explain how much he’s done for me and my career.”
Quarles is a 2012 graduate of Lawrence Central, where he lettered in baseball and football. He was honorable mention all-state, first team all-Conference Indiana and all-Marion County as a senior while hitting .463 with 20 runs batted in.
He was playing eighth grade football when coach Dan Roman fired a football into the air one day at practice and told Jaylen “make sure you call it.”
Roman, the head baseball coach at Lawrence Central at the time, knew that the youngster was familiar with the diamond.
But that was news to Quarles.
“I had no idea he knew I played baseball,” says Quarles. “I enjoyed playing for Dan Roman at LC.”
Besides the Pony Express, Quarles also played parts of two summers with Indianapolis RBI, playing in national tournaments in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
He went on to participate in two seasons of junior college baseball at Southeastern Illinois College. As a sophomore in 2014, the lefty-swinger hit .367 with 39 runs scored and team-best 26 RBIs.
After transferring to USI, Quarles played 33 games (22 starts) and hit .363 with 18 runs in 2015. After being a medical redshirt in 2016, he played 35 games (29 starts at designated hitter) in 2017 while hitting .310 with 14 runs and 14 RBIs.
Why degrees in sports management?
“Growing up all I wanted to do was play baseball,” says Quarles, who posted a 3.8 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale (in grad school). “I want to stay around the business.
“This is the type of job that I want. I’d eventually like to be a college coach at any level.”
Moralez was a three-year starter at Chatard, playing shortstop, second base, right field and pitching for Trojans head coach Mike Harmon. He was honorable all-Marion County in 2010.
What Moralez appreciates about Harmon is his ability to bring players together.
“He harped on family a lot with us,” says Moralez. “I look that into college and pro ball.”
“I wanted to want the team to be one and have good chemistry. I wanted to get everybody on board with one mission.”
The right-handed pitcher at Kentucky Wesleyan from 2013-16, making 39 mound appearances with nine victories for the Todd Lillpop-coached Panthers. He earned a degree in graphic design.
Through BaseballJobsOverseas.com, Moralez was going to play in Austria when he developed bone spurs and instead stayed in the U.S. and took an office job.
While Moralez has been working in Indianapolis, Quarles has been living and working in the Evansville area. He got internship credit working for Kevin and Kate Brown at Kevin Brown Baseball & Softball School in Mount Vernon, Ind., and continued to give lessons and coach travel softball.
“I got really comfortable in Evansville,” says Quarles. “I gained and formed relationships.”
That includes USI head coach Tracy Archuleta, who he surprised recently by popping in at practice.
Quarles, 26, was offered the chance to join D-BAT in the spring through a Facebook message from former USI pitcher Dan Marcacci. But Jaylen was finishing his graduate degree and the softball season was about to begin.
“I had obligations,” says Quarles. “I’ve been all-in with these girls. I can’t leave them hanging.”
Fast forward to this week and Quarles has been in Indianapolis making preparations to travel to China, including getting shots and squaring away paperwork.
Jaylen is the son of Leonza and Crystle Quarles. He has a sister, Jazzemine.
Andrew is the youngest of Oscar and Julie Moralez. Jesse Moralez is the older brother.
Andrew Moralez, a graduate of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis and Kentucky Wesleyan College, delivers a 2017 pitch for the independent Thoroughbred Mustangs in Lexington, Ky. He will soon be teaching baseball in China with best friend Jaylen Quarles. They played travel ball together on the Pony Express. (Thoroughbred Baseball League Photo)
Indianapolis native Jaylen Quarles bats for the University of Southern Indiana. The 2012 Lawrence Central High School graduate will soon be teaching baseball in China with best friend Andrew Moralez. They played travel ball together on the Pony Express. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)
Andrew Moralez fires a pitch for Kentucky Wesleyan College. On this day, he hit the radar gun at 94 mph. The KWC and Bishop Chatard High School graduate will soon be teaching baseball in China with best friend Jaylen Quarles. (Kentucky Wesleyan College Photo)
Jaylen Quarles prepares for the pitch while playing for the University of Southern Indiana. The USI and Lawrence Central High school graduate will soon be teaching baseball in China with best friend Andrew Moralez. (University of Southern Indiana)
At Kentucky Wesleyan College baseball senior day in 2017, Andrew Moralez is surrounded by his family. From left, there’s big brother Jesse Moralez, mother Juile Moralez and father Oscar Moralez.
Crystle and Leonza Quarles share a moment with son Jaylen Quarles during the latter’s baseball-playing days at the University of Southern Indiana.
Andrew Moralez played baseball at Kentucky Wesleyan College and will soon be teaching the game in China with best friend Jaylen Quarles. He is a graduate of Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis (Kentucky Wesleyan University Photo)
Jaylen Quarles played baseball at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville and will soon be teaching the game in China with best friend Andrew Moralez. He is a graduate of Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)
What Jay Lehr enjoys most about coaching baseball is passing along his wisdom to pitchers.
So the seasoned instructor has decided cease fielding travel teams — he ran the Aces Baseball Club out of Hamilton County Sports Complex in Noblesville, Ind., for six years — to focus on pitching instruction.
Factoring in body type and age, gets pitchers to repeat their deliveries and throw strikes by starting at the feed and working their way up.
Concepts like ground force, lift (balance point), direction with the hip (center of gravity), hand separation, release point and finish are covered.
“The goal is to have pitchers become their own best coach so they can fix themselves,” says Lehr. “Pitching’s boring. You have to do the same thing over and over again.”
Unlike hitters, who can swing the bats hundreds of times a day, pitchers have to build muscle memory using dry runs and reps without delivering the ball.
“It’s like tee work for hitters,” says Lehr. “You’re no good to anybody if you can’t get anybody out.
“And you need to make reps count. There are only so many bullets. You want a career or a season?”
While the baseball world is obsessed with velocity, Lehr would rather see pitchers who can establish the fastball and locate it.
“Throw 83 (mph) with sink and cut,” says Lehr. “I enjoy that. Hopefully, that will come back.”
Lehr likes to challenge his pitchers to throw no more than three pitches per batter.
When working with a group, he likes to end a session with a competition.
Sometimes, they play H-O-R-S-E.
“The first pitcher throws a fastball on the inside corner,” says Lehr. “Everyone else has to do it or they’ve got an ‘H.’
“You want to try to hit a spot and have a purpose every time you throw a ball.”
At the younger ages, Lehr teaches a four-seam, two-seam and no-seam fastball.
Generally, the four-seamer has glove-side movement and is elevated for the batter to chase it.
The two-seamer produces arm-side action.
The no-seam goes down in the strike zone.
If they can command the fastball, Lehr will mix in change-up grips.
“It’s a fine line to when you start the breaking ball,” says Lehr. “I won’t teach it until they can command the fastball and the change-up.”
For all pitchers, the idea is to upset the hitter’s timing.
This can be done through perceived velocity.
By hiding the ball and releasing it late, pitchers can deceive the hitter.
“It’s all about late movement and command,” says Lehr. “And the most important (ball-strike) count is 1-1. Whoever wins the 1-1 battle is way ahead. You’ve got to trust that process (as a pitcher). Commit to a pitch and finish it.”
Lehr says players should be leery about lifting weights too young and should be getting advice from someone who is certified or holds a degree in strength training.
Lehr was Carmel pitching coach for seven seasons. He was on Eric Lentz’s staff, served one season as interim head coach then was an assistant to Dan Roman.
Mitch Roman, Dan’s son and a Chicago White Sox minor leaguer, is also a Power Alley instructor as is former big league corner infielder and current Philadelphia Phillies fielding coordinator Chris Truby, former Carmel and Notre Dame player Kyle Fiala and former Triple-A outfielder John Tejeck.
Lynn, 31, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2011 and pitched for the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees in 2018.
Storen, 31, first appeared in an MLB game in 2010 and pitched for the 2017 Cincinnati Reds. The Carmel, Ind., resident missed the 2018 season after having Tommy John elbow surgery. The free agent is exploring his options for 2019.
“Lance has God-given ability,” says Lehr of Lynn. “He’s loose and has the same delivery he’s had since 12 years old. It’s clean and simple.”
A move from the first base side of the rubber closer to the middle helped Lynn excel in the second half in 2018.
Lehr plans to meet Lynn and his strength coach this winter in Nashville, Tenn.
“Drew is very meticulous,” says Lehr of Storen. “He was smaller when he was young so he had to learn how to get people out.
“He did not throw hard until his junior year of high school.
“Once strength caught up to him, the velocity came.”
By then, Storen already knew how to repeat his delivery.
“Drew has a knowledge of the kinetic chain and how it works,” says Lehr. “He has has proprioception (the sense that deals with sensations of body position, posture, balance and motion).
Lehr says Pete Page and Bobby Pierce are the men who taught him the love of the game.
Pierce was head coach at Chipola and retired from Troy (Ala.) University.
Jay Lehr is the president of Power Alley Baseball Academy and lead pitching instructor. He conducts individual and team lessons at Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville, Ind., and at Mooresville (Ind.) High School. He has been working with big league pitchers Lance Lynn and Drew Storen since they were kids.
That was 2013 and Montgomery was primarily a center fielder for then-Bears head coach Matt Buczowski.
Having played in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, South Bend, Ind., native Buczkowski saw potential in young Montgomery.
“Started teaching me what the lifestyle was like and started preparing me for it,” says Montgomery of Buczkowski, who is now head baseball coach at Carmel (Ind.) High School and regularly trades texts with his former player. “I love Coach Butch. He’s a really good friend of mine.”
Buczkowski told Montgomery he needed to put in the time and effort to reach his potential.
“You can’t let anybody out-work with you,” says Montgomery of Buczkowski’s advice.
In his junior year, right-hander Montgomery got more more opportunities and struck out 96 batters in 63 innings with a 1.63 earned run average.
Swinging a potent bat, Montgomery hit .456 with 10 home runs as an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association all-stater in his senior year at LC (2015).
As a high school freshmen, Montgomery’s head coach was Dan Roman (now head coach at Brownsburg High School).
Staying loose and having fun were qualities Montgomery took from Roman.
Raiders coach Doug Martin taught his players, including Montgomery, the meaning of work ethic and not getting to bring for one’s breeches.
“In Juco, everything is blue collar,” says Montgomery. “I was told to just stay humble and be the guy you are.”
In his one season at Central Florida, where Greg Lovelady was Knights head coach and Fort Wayne, Ind., native Justin Parker the pitching coach, Montgomery competed in 17 contests (eight as a starter) and was 6-4 with one save, one complete game and a 2.54 ERA. In 63 2/3 innings, he whiffed 74 and walked 21.
“(Lovelady) taught me about the mental game and dealing with failure,” says Montgomery. “Not everything is going to go your way. You deal with it
“You can only control what you can control. After you let go of the ball, you can’t control much unless it’s a come-backer.”
In his first nine games with Aberdeen (all in relief), Montgomery was 1-0 with one save and a 5.56 ERA. in 11 innings, he struck out 13 and walked eight.
Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Montgomery has touched 97 mph with both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs. He usually sits between 92 and 95 mph.
“I attack with the fastball then work in the off-speed (which includes a “circle” change-up, “spike” curveball and slider,” says Montgomery. “I have more control with the four-seam (which tends to have more revolutions than the two-seam).”
In his brief time in pro baseball, Montgomery has witnessed the difference between college and the minors beyond the raised level of talent and athleticism.
“In college, the schedule is more structured,” says Montgomery. “(In pro ball), you do what you need to get ready. It’s on you. It’s your career. It’s up to you whether you succeed or fail.”
J.J. Montgomery, a graduate of Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis who pitched at Northwest Florida State College and the University of Central Florida, is now with the Aberdeen (Md.) IronBirds in the Baltimore Orioles organization. (Aberdeen IronBirds Photo)