Brownstown Central — in its second season with Duane Higgs as head coach — has just won the third sectional baseball title in school history. The Braves beat Brown County 11-0, Milan 1-0 and Austin 4-2 to win the 2023 IHSAA Class 2A Austin Sectional. Junior Ethan Garland (6-2) was the winning pitcher against Brown County and Austin with the sectional title game being a two-hitter. In the semifinals against Milan, senior Carson Darlage (6-0) tossed a 15-strikeout one-hitter. As is BC athletics championship tradition, a fire truck ride and pep rally followed. “It was cool and the kids had a blast,” says Higgs, who is now preparing Brownstown Central (23-8) to meet Providence (25-3) in a one-game Class 2A regional at 11 a.m. ET Saturday, June 3 on the grass at Floyd Central. The winner moves on to semistate, where four teams will play three contests June 10 for the right to be in the 2A state championship game. Darlage (.481) plays center field and Garland (.402) shortstop when not on the mound. Others in the BC mix are senior Ethan Fultz at designated hitter, junior Trent Lowery at first base and pitcher, junior Quentin “Chick” Tiemeyer at second base, sophomore Dalton Reedy at catcher and pitcher, sophomore Pierson Wheeler at third base and a quartet of freshmen — catcher Grayson Cassidy, left fielder Preston Garrison, right fielder Lane Pendleton and utility man Jaxson Johnson. Recent BC graduates in college baseball include Ethan Davis (Marian University/Frontier Community College) and Jake Pauley (College of DuPage). Higgs says he sees collegiate potential for three-sport standout/left-hander Darlage (who plans to attend Purdue University), Garland and Lowery. Brownstown Central (enrollment around 480) is a member of the Mid-Southern Conference (with Austin, Charlestown, Corydon Central, Eastern of Pekin, North Harrison, Salem, Scottsburg and Silver Creek). Besides Austin, Brown County and Milan, Hauser, South Ripley, Southwestern (Hanover) and Switzerland County is in the sectional group with Brownstown. The Braves’ previous sectional crowns came in 1982 and 2016. Former head coach Steve Schrink won 482 games. Higgs is a 2003 graduate of Franklin County High School in Brookville, Ind., where he played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Hughes (who died in 2018) and Clark Sherwood. “Coach Hughes is in the Hall of Fame for a reason,” says Higgs, who remembers the discipline and accountability stressed by the coach. “He ran a great program. That baseball field (which now bears his name) was his baby. “(Sherwood) taught a lot about the game and fundamentals.” Higgs’ BC assistants are Kyle Williams, Austin Greene (Brownstown Central Class of 2016) and Nigel Myers (Class of 2015). Brownstown Central feeders include a middle school program for seventh and eighth graders plus Brownstown Baseball Association, the traveling Brownstown Impact and other travel organizations. Higgs earned a Kinesiology degree from Indiana University in 2009. He was a middle school Physical Education teacher in Bedford schools for nine years. In 2022-23, he taught Engineering, Business Math, Credit Recovery, Physical Education and Health. He is slated to teach Business Math, P.E. and Health in 2023-24. Prior to Brownstown Central, he was an assistant baseball coach at Bloomington South 2008-13, head coach at Paoli 2014-15 and assistant at Bedford North Lawrence 2016-21. He also coached in the Zach McClellan-led Demand Command travel ball organization 2011-21. Higgs and girlfriend Mackenzi have a son — Hatcher (3).
Sam Klein keeps getting more stingy as his college baseball career progresses. The Ball State University right-hander missed the first month of the 2023 season working out some soreness. He got into his first game March 19 and has worked stints of 4, 2 2/3, 3 2/3 and 3 1/3 innings. For a team that is 23-9 overall and 10-2 in the Mid-American Conference heading into a three-game MAC series Friday through Sunday at Central Michigan, Klein is 3-0 with one save an 0.66 earned run average. He has 16 strikeouts and five walks in 13 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit .196 with eight singles and two doubles. All 38 of Klein’s appearances for the Cardinals since 2021 have been out of the bullpen with the last two being BSU’s closer. That has caused him to develop a mindset. “You have to do your job or else you’re not going to win the game,” says Klein. “My job is to go out there and compete. “I use my natural competitive nature to help myself on the mound. I’ve only thrown the last four weeks. I’m getting back into the role.” Born in Tennessee, Klein grew up in Bloomington, Ind. He played his early baseball at Winslow Sports Complex and competed in the Monroe County Youth Football Association. As a teenager, he began travel baseball — first for Demand Command then Diamond Dynamics and the Troy Drosche-coached Indiana Bulls. A 2020 graduate of Bloomington High School North, Klein lost his senior prep season to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a junior, he went 6-0 with one save and a 1.31 ERA for the Richard Hurt-coached Cougars. He produced 51 strikeouts and nine walks in 32 innings. A shortstop when not pitching, Klein hit .333. In his first college season of 2021, Klein took the bump 11 times and posted a 1-0 mark with one save and a 5.52 ERA. He whiffed 12 and walked 11 in 14 2/3 innings. In 2022, Klein made 23 appearances and went 4-3 with 11 saves and a 3.18 ERA. He fanned 47 and walked 21 in 34 innings. Foes hit .179. His career WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is 1.32. Klein has become accustomed to how Ball State head coach Rich Maloney and pitching coach Larry Scully will use him. “Usually if it’s a close game in the seventh inning I’ll come down to the bullpen and start stretching out,” says Klein. “If (the game is) tied or it’s a save situation I’ll usually go in.” A 6-foot-3, 210-pounder, Klein uses three pitches from an over-the-top arm slot — a rising four-seam fastball clocked at 90 to 93 mph, a 12-to-6 slider that looks like a curveball and a change-up with drop and arm-side movement. Last summer Klein pitched for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod League, making five appearances (four as a reliever) with no decisions. “It was a great experience,” says Klein. “It was really good competition. The coaches and players all know what they’re doing.” In the summer of 2021, Klein took the mound seven times (all starts) for the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s Hamilton (Ohio) Joes and went 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA. He had 55 strikeouts and 15 walks in 44 innings. Klein, who turned 21 in January, is eligible for the 2023 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. But he is focused on the here and now. “If I do well out here that helps my chances,” says Klein. “I don’t tend to think about much about it while I’m playing.” Sam is the second of three children born to teachers Bill and Brittany Klein. Professional baseball player Will Klein (Bloomington North Class of 2017) is the oldest and prep softball/volleyball athlete Molly Klein (Bloomington North Class of 2025) the youngest. Will Klein, 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander, was a mound standout at Bloomington North and Eastern Illinois University and was taken in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He was with Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2022 then pitched in the Arizona Fall League. The 23-year-old begins 2023 at Northwest Arkansas. “He’s a little stronger than me and throws harder,” says Sam Klein of Will. “He relies on (velocity) a little more than I do. I’d like to think I have a little more command than he does.” Like his brother, Sam is a Biology major. “It was my favorite thing in high school,” says Klein, who is considered a sophomore academically and athletically. “I stuck with it.”
Speed is Tyler Finke’s calling card on the baseball field. He shows it while roaming center field and swiping bases at a record pace for Southeastern Louisiana University and he did it while growing up in Columbus, Ind., and shining for the Columbus North High School Bull Dogs. A fifth-year SLU senior, Finke has 41 putouts in as many chances. The righty swinger is hitting a team-leading .364 with one home runs, four doubles, 14 runs batted in and 23 runs scored — mostly from the 2-hole — through 14 games. “I’m able to track down balls and impact the game on the defensive side and limiting balls that drop out there,” says Finke. “I’ve got (lead-off man Rhett Rosevear) in front of me and we can get guys on base and score some runs.” At 15-of-16 in stolen bases for 2023, Finke is 71-of-80 for his career and had tied the school record. The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder pilfered nine bases in 16 games in 2020 (a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic), 19 in 46 games in 2021 and 28 in 58 games in 2022. He hit .396 and amassed 38 stolen bases in 41 attempts for Snead State Community College in Boaz, Ala., in 2019 after hitting .415 and setting career and single-season stolen base marks at Columbus North with 108 and 48. “Speed’s been my biggest strength as an athlete,” says Finke. “I’ve developed it over the years, but I’ve always been the fastest kid on the team.” As a youngster, Finke improved his speed through plyometrics, body awareness and proper running form. “I always ran the right way and always had the speed to back it up,” says Finke. “We still do a little work with our strength coach (Kyle Vagher). He’s done a great job improving our speed and agility in the off-season. “It’s been mostly about adding strength.” Finke, who turns 24 in April, gained an extra year of eligibility because of COVID. He completed a Sport Management degree last semester. This spring marks his fourth playing for Matt Riser at SLU in Hammond, La. “Skip is one of the old-school, hard-nosed dudes,” says Finke. “He expects a lot from you. He expects you to play hard every single time. That’s what we love about him. “We know he’s going to get the best out of his team every performance.” He credits his coach for making him even more of a weapon on the bases. “Having speed helps,” says Finke. “But Riser has given me some extra tools and tricks of the trade that help maximize my speed.” It’s things like reading the pitcher and sinking into his legs right before the pitch to get his best jump. “Getting that extra foot ahead of the baseball has really helped me,” says Finke. “Our whole team can run pretty much. We take pride in that. At any point we can take a base.” Casey Underwood was Finke’s head coach at Snead State. “His first year as coach was my year there,” says Finke. “The stuff he’s built around that program is absolutely incredible. “I can’t say anything but nice things about what he’s done and what he means to me as a coach.” Finke has never been a fan of the cold and saw himself playing college ball in the south. While in high school playing travel ball for Demand Command, he got to play against junior college teams in the fall. One of those was Snead State. Older brother Evan Finke (Columbus North Class of 2015) played for the Parsons and Tyler followed him. Evan went on to Purdue Northwest and is now an engineer in Columbus. Little sister Carley Finke (Columbus North Class of 2020) is a former volleyball defensive specialist and current nursing student at Indiana University Purdue University-Columbus. Evan, Tyler and Carley are the offspring of Rodney and Beth Finke. A 2018 graduate of Columbus North, Tyler Finke played for then-Bull Dogs head coach Ben McDaniel. “He got us prepared to play the college game,” says Finke. “We were a high school program, but we had a lot of talent.”
T.J. Bass came out of the gate producing at the plate in 2022. The righty swinger in his fourth baseball season at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., knocked in two run in the Trojans’ campaign-opening win against Kansas Wesleyan in Mesa, Ariz. Heading into the Crossroads League tournament which begins May 7 at Taylor (note the change because of rain), Bass leads all of NAIA in runs batted in with 84. Besides that, he’s hitting .382 (71-of-186) with 19 home runs, 14 doubles, 51 runs scored and a 1.254 OPS (.491 on-base percentage plus .763 slugging average). “I need to start by giving credit to the guys batting before me,” says Bass of his big RBI total. “It seems like I come up with two or three guys on every time.” Bass, who looks to be aggressive and barrel the ball up on the first good pitch he sees per at-bat, has been used by Trojans head coach Kyle Gould primarily in the No. 3 spot in the batting order with a few games in the 2-hole. He’s often found senior Nick Rusche (.337 with 63 hits) and freshman Kaleb Kolpein (.403 with 77 hits) — and for awhile — sophomore Camden Knepp (.282 with 44 hits)— reaching base before him. Rusche prepped at New Palestine (Ind.) High School, Kolpein at Homestead (Fort Wayne) and Knepp at Northridge (Middelbury). “The back half the lineup has also been pretty good,” says Bass, a 2018 graduate of Greenwood (Ind,) Community. Of his 19 homers, Bass has clouted three grand slams (vs. Reinhardt in Waleska, Ga., vs. Olivet Nazarene in Athens, Tenn., and vs. Indiana Wesleyan in Upland), four three-run bombs, seven two-run dingers and five solo shots. The enjoyed two-homer games against Reinhardt and Mount Vernon Nazarene. Bass belted 14 circuit clouts in Crossroads League regular-season play. Taylor (36-16) is the No. 2 seed in the eight-team Crossroads League tournament. Regular-season champion Mount Vernon Nazarene is No. 1. The turf at Winterholter Field will also be the site of an NAIA Opening Round May 16-19. “It’s incredible,” says Bass of playing at the facility located in the heart of the TU campus that was resurfaced after the 2021 season. “Coach Gould takes huge pride in how the field looks and it’s awesome to see so many fans come out.” Bass has started in all 52 of the Trojans’ games in 2022, mostly in center field or right field. But he’s also been used as a catcher and first baseman. During his college career, he’s played everywhere but the middle infield and on the mound. “It’s wherever the team needs me most based on who’s healthy if we need an offensive day or a defensive day,” says Bass. “Coach Gould does a good job of looking at Synergy in scouting teams.” Taylor players watch videos of opposing hitters and pitchers to study their strengths weaknesses. At 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Bass has gotten physically stronger and faster since arriving on-campus thanks to off-season programs led by assistant coach Justin Barber as well as Gould. When Bass arrived at Taylor in 2018-19, Josh Lane and Wyatt Whitman were seniors. “They they were both huge role models taking a freshman and hour and a half from home under their wings,” says Bass. “They took the strain off.” Bass was asked how they could help and if they could pray for him. When Whitman moved on and acted jersey No. 11, Bass took it. It was also during his first year at Taylor that Bass was undecided on a major. He landed on Elementary Education. A camp counselor at a community recreation center since his junior year of high school and the son of high school teacher (Andy Bass) and pre-kindergarten teacher (Jenni Bass) with other educators on both sides of the family, T.J. sees that as a natural career path. “I’ve been around teaching my whole life,” says Bass. “I really love to be able to work with kids and I like getting to know them and finding their interests. “It didn’t feel like I would do as well with secondary (students). God was calling me to work with elementary.” Andy Bass teaches Algebra II and Geometry at Greenwood Community, where he has been head baseball coach since 1998. Jenni Bass ran her own daycare for more than a decade and now works at Waverly Elementary School in the Mooresville corporation. Timothy James Bass, 22, is the oldest of Andy and Jenni’s four kids. Sam Bass is two years younger than T.J. and living and working in Fort Wayne. Mary Bass is a Greenwood Community freshman. Claire Bass is a sixth grader in the Mooresville system. T.J. was born and raised in Greenwood and played Little League baseball there. Around fifth grade, he played with the traveling Johnson County Jaguars. The summers following his freshman and sophomore years were spent with the Indiana Bulls. The next summer he played for the Indiana Nitro then was with Demand Command right before and right after his freshman year at Taylor. Bass did not play during the COVID-19 summer of 2020. In 2021, he split his time between the Prospect League’s Lafayette (Ind.) Aviators and the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. With an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic, Bass plans to come back for a fifth season at Taylor in 2023. He expects to do his student teaching this fall.
The state has added another college baseball program. Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus is launching an athletic department and baseball is a part of it. Zach McClellan is the Crimson Pride’s first athletic director and baseball head coach. The school has applied for membership in the NAIA and hopes to be participating in the River States Conference. IUPUC is awaiting decisions on both. The 43-year-old McClellan says the NAIA is to visit the campus to look at academics and athletics Feb. 28-March 1. McClellan, a Toledo, Ohio, native who pitched three seasons at Indiana University (1998-2000) and 10 years in professional baseball including a stint with the Colorado Rockies (2007), says that regardless of NAIA status in the coming year, Crimson Pride teams will participate in cross country, softball and baseball during the 2022-23 academic year. The AD/coach says there are no immediate plans to build a baseball field on the small satellite campus, but IUPUC is in conversations with local high schools — Columbus East, Columbus North and Hauser among them — as well as CERALand Park (a host to many travel ball events) about a place to play home games. Athletes have already been announcing their commitment to the NAIA-applicant school. “I’m giving (recruits) very transparent answers about what could and couldn’t happen,” says McClellan. “For me, it’s more important for the players to commit to IUPUC and the process.” As a first-time college administrator and head coach, McClellan has welcomed help from those with experience. “One of the guys that I have a lot of respect for is Kyle Gould at Taylor University (in Upland, Ind.),” says McClellan. “He’s the AD at Taylor and he’s the baseball coach and great at both.” To help build the team and culture, McClellan will be hiring assistant coaches. “I want to win,” says McClellan, who had more than 150 players from around the world show interest when word got out about the formation of the start-up program. “To win I’ve got to build a great developmental plan for those kids. “The plan specifically for baseball is to bring in 50 players by the fall to have a varsity and (junior varsity) team and IUPUC. I took the job to help people. I took it to give them an opportunity to go to a great institution and get a degree from Indiana or Purdue with very affordable tuition.” Giving advice to players and their families looking at college baseball, McClellan implores them to do their research to find the right fit. “I don’t think anybody truly wants to transfer four times in four years,” says McClellan. “The transfer portal stuff is a necessary evil. I’m glad it empowers players to become happy. But you really should be looking for that spot you can call home for four to five years. Get your degree, play at a high level and enjoy it. “Pick the right opportunity for yourself and don’t short change any opportunity.” McClellan moved to Columbus, Ind., in 2010 after taking a job with LHP Engineering Solutions. He has established two businesses including Demand Command (a travel sports organization with teams in Indiana, Ohio and Arizona) and CG Velocity (an entity created to develop baseball pitching expertise for players ages 7 to 25). He holds a B.S. degree from Indiana University and an Masters of Business Administration from University of Phoenix and is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Division of Business at IUPUC. “I’m a big advocate for education and teaching,” says McClellan, who enjoyed guiding a Personal Brand class for MBA students. Besides Business, Nursing and Mechanical Engineerina (Purdue) are among the major offered at the school. “There’s a lot of knowledge at IUPUC,” says McClellan. “There’s a lot of knowledgable people with smaller classes. That’s value-added. “Hopefully academics can shine the light on how good academics really is.” “So far everyone has expressed interest in working with us,” says McClellan. “There are a lot of options here in Columbus.” There are just over 900 undergraduate students at IUPUC. Many are commuters. Student-athletes looking for housing are being referred to The Annex of Columbus — apartments within walking distance of the campus. McClellan sees being close rather than having a long commute as ideal. “You have to understand that you are a student-athlete and not an athlete-student,” says McClellan. “You have to be committed to your books. That’s tough because — let’s face it — baseball at the collegiate level is like a second job. It’s hard to commute from more than 30 or 40 minutes away and do what we’re trying to do. You’re going to be working out early in the morning and late at night. You’re going to be studying and finding something to eat. And you have to get your sleep. “We’re looking for elite-level players — on and off the field — that’s what college baseball is.” McClellan notes that there is a reason sports is a pyramid and not a square. “Sometimes it weeds you out when you’re not fully-committed to what you’re doing,” says McClellan. “That’s why The Annex of Columbus is a pivotal piece.” Zach and wife Sarah live in Columbus with three daughters — Mia, Miley and Emery.
Wesley Arthur peeks at his calendar and sees April 5 , 2021 as a special day.
That’s when the first-year head baseball coach at Eastern Greene High School near Bloomfield, Ind., is scheduled to coach his first game.
The Thunderbirds are slated to visit Owen Valley in Spencer, Ind. The Patriots are led by Eastern Greene alum Ryan Wilcoxen.
Arthur is a 2013 graduate of Owen Valley, where he played football for Duane Potts and baseball for Brian Greene. He was an OV assistant on the gridiron for Potts and helped on the diamond with Greene, Brad Garrison and Wilcoxen.
A corner infielder and designated hitter as a high school baseball player, Arthur also excelled in football as a lineman and received college interest in that sport.
Arthur opted to pursue an associate degree at Ivy Tech in Bloomington, Ind., and go into sales while beginning his coaching career.
He enjoys getting out on the field with his young athletes, creating a game plan and the chess match with the opposing players and coaches.
“I like to see what my kids can do and put them in the right place to be successful,” says Arthur.
Greene was the one that gave Arthur the opportunity to be a coach and both have shared time guiding players in baseball and football.
“We’re still really close,” says Arthur. “I consider him a close friend. He’s a mentor to me.
“We bounce ideas off each other.”
Besides high school assistant, Arthur has also been a head coach at the 12U and 13U levels for the Columbus-based Demand Command travel baseball organization.
Arthur, 26, is eager to make an impact on Eastern Greene baseball.
“We want to instill some continuity,” says Arthur. “We’ll probably have a younger roster.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic taking away the 2020 season, Arthur says he will have essentially two freshmen groups (Class of 2023 and Class of 2024) that will be new to high school baseball.
“We look to get our culture set,” says Arthur, who has seen some players during open gyms but not an entire group with many playing basketball and the school using a hybrid in-person class schedule (one half the student body comes two days and the other half comes two days). “We’ll look for upperclassmen with high school experience to be leaders.
“We’ll do what it takes to grind out some wins. We’ll be growing our baseball I.Q. We may take some lumps along the way.”
Arthur, who is assisted by Casey Bybee, hopes to have enough players for a junior varsity schedule.
“We want to grow the program and have fun,” says Arthur. “We want to keep the kids excited.”
The Thunderbirds are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Linton-Stockton, Mitchell, North Knox, Paoli and South Knox. Eastern Greene has won five sectional crowns — the last in 2013.
Home games for the Thunderbirds are played on a field next to Eastern Greene Middle School and just over a mile down S.R. 54 from the high school.
“It’s been there forever,” says Arthur. “I think it looks nice.”
The field has dirt base paths leading from home plate and a “key hole” from the mound to the plate. Though its more work to maintain, Arthur appreciates the look it creates.
The middle school has seventh and eighth grade baseball teams.
At the younger ages, there is an Eastern Greene Youth Baseball with multiple teams in 8U, 10U and 12U divisions. A separate Thunder Travel baseball program sends players in those age groups out to take on teams around Greene County and the surrounding area.
“I want to build that chemistry and get it started early,” says Arthur of youngsters playing together who will eventually play at EGHS. “We want to get that momentum going.”
Thomas Wesley Arthur is the oldest of Tommy and Tina Arthur’s five children. Wesley’s four younger sisters are Tristany, Tori, Tiana and Teagan.
Through hills and valleys, the right-handed pitcher persisted and persevered until he finally stood on a major league mound at 28 and its those kind of lessons he passes along to the next generation with his baseball/softball business — Demand Command.
McClellan, who stands 6-foot-5, earned three letters at Indiana University (1998, 1999 and 2000). He pitched in 41 games, starting 22 with five complete games and one save. In 159 1/3 innings, he posted 111 strikeouts and a 4.58 earned run average while playing for Hoosiers head coach Bob Morgan — a man he credits as much for what he did in stressing education as what he did between the white lines.
Long before that McClellan started giving back. He started the Zach McClellan School of Pitching in Bloomington, Ind., in 2002.
Zach and future wife Sarah met at IU. She is from nearby Ellettsville, Ind., and a graduate of Edgewood High School.
During his pro off-seasons, Zach was a student teacher during the day and gave lessons at night during his off-season.
With the growth of the business, McClellan began looking for a new name and a suggestion came from one of his pupils who noted how he was constantly telling them, “Don’t just accept control, demand command.”
McClellan says the difference between control and command is that with control you can throw to a general area and command is being able to execute your pitches to the catcher.
The two main aspects of pitching as McClellan sees them are how hard you throw and can you locate it. In other words: Velocity and command.
“I try to marry those two things,” says McClellan, who notes that location becomes very important when it comes to getting good hitters out.
Believing that training should be fun and challenging, McClellan began getting his young pitchers to play H-O-R-S-E baseball style.
While in the basketball version, a player has to replicate a made shot or take a letter, McClellan’s baseball variation requires one pitcher to execute a pitch — say a fastball to the outside corner — and have the next one up replicate that or take a letter.
The first Demand Command T-shirts McClellan ever had made asked: “Can you play H-O-R-S-E on the mound?”
“It was an inside joke between the instructed kids, myself and their parents,” says McClellan. “People would ask the question about what it meant.
“We were doing something kind of unique and kids were actually executing pitches. What I’ve noticed through the years is that if they have to call the pitch, it’s even better. Now they’re not just throwing a ball in the generally vicinity.”
McClellan never wants training to be drudgery for his players.
“If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing it becomes more of a job,” says McClellan. “It’s not a job, it’s an opportunity. It’s fun. If you’re going to come to me it’s not going to feel like work.
“You have to make sure that the kids are enjoying what they’re doing, but learning at the same time.”
Since he began offering instruction, McClellan has preferred small-group lessons of three of four players.
“I say make sure kids aren’t just doing solo private lessons,” says McClellan. “A lot of parents want their kids to work one-on-one with a coach, but when they go on a field they have eight other teammates.
“At the end of the day there’s nobody behind the mound holding your hand and telling you how to correct yourself in a game. You have to have a feel on the adjustments you’re making.”
Every now and then, McClellan likes to match 17-year-old prospect with an 8-year-old learning how to pitch.
“The 17-year-old learns how to teach,” says McClellan. “The more you learn how to teach the better you get at your craft.
“(The teen is) learning how other people receive the information which makes them more receptive of the information.”
Now that he has been at it this long, another McClellan goal is coming to fruition.
“I’ve always wanted to create a community of baseball players that became future leaders,” says McClellan. “Kids that played for me or took lessons from me are now coming back to be coaches for me.”
Matt McClellan played at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., and pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays organization (Toronto selected the right-hander in the seventh round of the 1997 MLB Draft) and for the independent Newark (N.J.) Bears and Kansas City (Kan.) T-Bones.
The DC website states the mission: “Demand Command was built on the principles that baseball and softball are teaching mechanisms for more than just the games.
Baseball and Softball have many life lessons within the games. Some examples are leadership, hard work, determination, discipline, working together with many types of people, dealing with success and failure and good character.
“The goal is to teach people the value of Demand Command life principles through baseball and softball. Demand Command stands for much more than commanding pitches or at bats. Demand Command is a way of life.”
Numerous DC alums have gone on to college and pro baseball. Among them is Dylan Stutsman, who pitched at the University of Indianapolis and then pitched for the independent Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers.
Former Texas Rangers draft pick Renton Poole is now a senior pitcher at Indiana University Kokomo.
Zach and Sarah McClellan live in Columbus and have three athletic daughters — Mia (14), Miley (12) and Emery (10).
The McClellan brothers — Jeff (46), Matt (44) and Zach (42 on Nov. 25) — are the offspring of former college athletes.
Father Dave a basketball player at the University of Michigan and Mother Diane a track and field athlete at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University.
Jeff played baseball at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.
Zach’s nephew, Sebastian McClellan, is a freshman basketball guard at Lawrence Technical University in Southfield, Mich. Niece Mallory McClellan recently signed a letter of intent to play softball at Fordham University in New York.
One of the many lessons a son has learned from his father is that of lifelong learning.
With more than 40 years as a business teacher at Edgewood High School in the Monroe County town of Ellettsville and upwards of 30 as head baseball coach, Bob Jones can draw on a deep well of knowledge.
Jones, who recently turned 66, has plenty of know-how. But the former student at Central Catholic High School in Vincennes (now Vincennes Rivet), Vincennes University and Indiana State University is not content with that wisdom alone.
He employs the same approach as an educator. To prepare for his personal finance and introduction to business classes, Bob takes his text book home every night and reads it over so he will know the subject when addressing students the next day.
“He’s definitely not going to settle for complacency,” says Sam Jones, a 2006 Edgewood baseball alum and himself a seven grade social studies teacher at Cloverdale. “And he’s always evolving with the game (of baseball).”
Bob Jones and his staff, which also includes Tom Anderson (pitching coach), Eli Mathers (strength coach), Mac Kido, Austin Chapman, John Cage, Kyle May (junior varsity), John Justis (junior varsity) view their baseball program as what Sam Jones calls “a living and breathing thing” that changes with the times.
When he saw the benefits, Bob Jones started having his players lift weights daily — even game days.
“We live and die by the weight room,” says Sam Jones.
When Jaeger Sports bands came along with J-Bands for arm care, Edgewood began using them.
With all the private lessons and travel organizations now available, the Edgewood staff knows today’s players are pretty smart.
“They can feel and understand what their body is telling them and make some adjustments,” says Sam Jones. “The last eight or 10 years, dad has also had a lot of success reaching to to (students at nearby Indiana University) who want to stay connected to the game.”
Those IU students come and work with the Mustangs on the diamond and influence them beyond it. Many have gone on to become business professionals.
“They give vision for these kids,” says Sam Jones. “They know what’s possible if they apply themselves.”
Bob Jones has led Edgewood to sectional baseball championships nine times (1987, 1991, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2014) and regional titles twice (2007 and 2011), all the while giving plenty of responsibility to his assistants.
“He empowers them to make decisions,” says Sam Jones. “We believe in building a tribe.”
Two years ago, Bob Jones was struck on the leg by a foul ball and a hematoma caused him to miss three weeks of baseball.
His assistants rallied in his absence and the Mustangs did not miss a beat.
Edgewood, an IHSAA Class 3A school with around 800 students, typically fields three teams. Last spring, there was a varsity and two JV teams.
Sam Jones says that is likely to be the case again in 2018.
“The new pitch count has forced us to spread out our games a little more,” says Sam Jones, who lays out the JV schedules, making sure to get a balance of 4A schools like Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo in with 1A and 2A competition. “We’re giving our freshman to compete against bigger and better competition right off the bat. We also do not wanted them to overwhelmed with teams that are above and beyond their skill set.”
The pitch count at levels below varsity is tighter than in is for varsity (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days). There was discussion at the IHSBCA State Clinic of making one standard for all since many schools will use pitchers for varsity and JV games — sometimes in the same week.
Edgewood is a member of the Western Indiana Conference and is part of the East Division along with Brown County, Cascade, Cloverdale, Indian Creek and Owen Valley. The West features Greencastle, North Putnam, Northview, South Putnam, Sullivan and West Vigo.
Each team plays home-and-home division series on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with only the first game counting in the WIC standings. There are crossover games at the end of the season — East No. 1 plays West No. 1 and so on.
Bob Jones wants to see all sectional opponents during the regular season so Edgewood has Brown County, Owen Valley, Sullivan and West Vigo on its schedule.
The Mustangs plays home games on Ermil Clark Field, which is located between the high school and junior high buildings.
Celebrating an occasion together (from left): Sam Jones, Bob Jones, Jade Jones and Cris Jones. Bob is a longtime teacher and head baseball coach at Edgewood High School in Ellettsville, Ind. Sam, a 2006 Edgewood graduate, is one of his assistants.