By STEVE KRAH
Josh Hardy is in his first season as head baseball coach at Pioneer Junior-Senior High School in Royal Center, Ind.
The core values that Hardy teaches to his Panthers were borrowed from his college football coach, Colin Bruton of Lakeland University in Plymouth, Wis.
They are honesty, selflessness, relentlessness, competitiveness and positivity.
“On the baseball side, we stress offense and being aggressive,” says Hardy. “We’ve got to score runs to win games.”
A 2012 graduate of Logansport (Ind.) High School where he won two letters each in football, wrestling and baseball, Hardy credits two former Berries head baseball coaches — Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Turner Sr. plus Jim Turner Jr. — as well as current Logansport bench boss Dan Frye, Craig Crozier and Jon Vernon for adding to his diamond knowledge.
“I’ve learned that the main thing is to be patient with players and even other coaches,” says Hardy. “And to study the game.”
Hardy has received plenty of pointers from Turner Sr., on how to run a practice.
Prior to taking over the Pioneer program, Hardy coached in the Logansport Lookouts travel organization.
In Hardy’s first season, Pioneer has 32 players for varsity and junior varsity squads.
Assistant coaches include Jacob Hardy (Josh’s younger brother), Cory Harmon, Darrell Couch and Miles VonTobel.
Jacob Hardy, who played baseball at Ancilla College in Donaldson, Ind., works with pitchers and catcher. He is a Logansport alum as are Harmon and Couch. VonTobel is a 2020 Pioneer graduate.
Pioneer (enrollment around 300) is a member of the Hoosier North Athletic Conference (with Caston, Culver Community, Knox, LaVille, North Judson-San Pierre, Triton and Winamac).
HNAC teams play each other twice — usually on back-to-back weekdays or in Saturday doubleheaders.
Following this format places an emphasis on pitching depth rather than riding one arm to a conference championship.
“We’re fortunate to have a pretty decent amount of arms,” says Hardy.
The Panthers are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Caston (the 2021 host), Northfield, North Miami, North White, Southwood and West Central. Pioneer won its lone sectional crown in 2016.
Pioneer’s home field is on-campus. There are plans to add a new batting cage and to improve the playing surface.
The Panthers’ program is fed by the middle school (one seventh/eighth grade team) plus the Pioneer Youth League in Royal Center and a Pioneer team in the Logansport Babe Ruth League.
Hardy earned a business management degree from Lakeland in 2016 followed by a masters in business in 2018. He also helped coach the Muskies when his four years as a pass catcher were done.
He now teaches business and computer science at Pioneer while also assisting head football coach Adam Berry.
The Panthers are 64-5 over the past five gridiron seasons with a state runner-up finish in 2016, state championships in 2017 and 2018 and a regional crown in 2020.