By STEVE KRAH
In its storied baseball history, Shakamak Junior/Senior High School in Jasonville, Ind., has appeared in an IHSAA state championship game eight times.
Dylan Collins was on three of those teams — 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Lakers reigned over Class 1A in 2014.
Collins played catcher his first two varsity seasons, second baseman as a junior and shortstop as a senior. He was in the 2-hole in 2012 and at the top of his team’s batting order in the 2014 and 2015.
His head coach for the first three seasons was Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chip Sweet. Todd Gambill took over the program after Sweet’s retirement.
“Coach Sweet was an all-around good guy,” says Collins. “We looked up to him as a father figure. He was very well-respected and we wanted to win for him.
“We had only one year with Coach Gambill. He was energetic. He knew what he was getting and we produced for him.”
Collins played two seasons at Vincennes (Ind.) University for Chris Barney and one at Purdue Northwest for Dave Griffin.
“(Barney) wanted me from the first time he saw me,” says Collins. “He told you how it was and lived up to the promise.
“(Griffin) was an honest guy and fun to play for.”
Collins came back home to work at Jasonville Utilities and joined the Shakamak baseball coaching staff.
After three seasons as junior varsity coach, Collins was named last week as head coach.
As a product of a program that has has won 27 sectional titles (the last two in 2021 and 2022) with state championships in 2008 and 2014 and runner-up finishes in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2015 and 2021, Collins knows that expectations are high in the Shakamak community.
“That’s what drives me to do what I do,” says Collins. “That’s the fun part of it.”
Every time Collins comes to Shakamak on-campus diamond he recalls the Laker legacy.
“It’s all the history there,” says Collins. “I remember 2004 and one of the first state runs. My brother (Class of 2006’s Derek Collins) was on the team. I was young and running around.
“There are so many memories.”
Collins’s 2023 coaching staff features Class of 2015’s Jake Walters and pitching coach Braxton Yeryar and Jason Pegg (Bloomfield alum) with previous head coach Jeremy Yeryar (Shakamak of Class of 1993) also helping out.
Braxton Yeryar was Collins’ teammate at Shakamak and a teammate and roommate at Vincennes U.
As the man in charge, Collins wants his Lakers to “refuse to lose” and play with confidence.
Among returnees from a 2022 team that went 16-14 is Indiana Wesleyan University commit and senior Brady Yeryar (.559 with seven home runs and 34 runs batted in as a junior).
Ethan Burdette (Class of 2021) is now at VU.
Shakamak (enrollment around 200) is a member of the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, North Central of Farmsburg, North Daviess and White River Valley).
SWIAC teams meet each other one time.
The Lakers are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023 with Bloomfield, Clay City, Dugger Union, North Central (Farmersburg) and White River Valley.
Shakamak is to open the 2023 season March 31 at Jasper.
There was weight training and conditioning for the Lakers during the fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period. Collins says hitting and other activities will take after the Christmas break.
Shakamak has a junior high baseball team of seventh and eighth graders which play on the high school diamond in the spring. Another feeder is the Shakamak Youth League (T-ball through majors).
Collins and girlfriend Bailey Scott have a 4-month son named Kooper Collins. Dylan’s parents are Jeff and Denise Collins. Jeff Collins (Shakamak Class of 1983) played for head coach Herschel Allen and once held batting records for the Lakers. Brooke Griffith (Class of 2007) is the sister to Dylan and Derek.