By STEVE KRAH
John Adams High School in South Bend, Ind., is enjoying quite a baseball season so far in 2021.
Under the direction of seventh-year head coach Mike Cass, the Eagles go into a Thursday, May 20 contest at Penn at 15-3 overall and 6-3 in Northern Indiana Conference games.
“It’s the best season we’ve had in years,” says Cass, who has witnessed steady pitching and defense and has shuffled his lineup to produce some offense. Of the three losses, two came down to the seventh inning.
“We’ve gotten lucky,” says Eagles pitching coach Taylor Neville. “We’ve got pretty good depth at the pitching spot.
“We always try to develop (the young arms) and give them time at the JV level or in a intrasquad game or a doubleheader where we’re trying to get guys playing time. We see how they perform and what we can fix. We come up with a plan for them.
“We’ve really had a lot of guys develop. It know it just doesn’t happen here but in summer ball.”
Neville cites Adams senior Bryce Martens as someone who has gotten better as his prep career has progressed.
“In his freshman came up with us (to varsity),” says Neville. “His first game pitching was against Jimtown and he was really struggling with the curve ball. We worked on that and got a very nice curve ball out of it.
“He’s just continued to develop.”
Neville is a graduate of Gahanna (Ohio) Lincoln High School.
C.J. Schwartz, another Adams assistant, graduate from Mishawaka (Ind.) High School and played baseball at Grace College in Winona, Lake, Ind.
What does Cass stress with his Adams players?
“Leadership, sportsmanship and fundamentals,” says Cass. “We want to do the little things in baseball like bunt coverage and being where you’re supposed to be (at your position) and those sorts of things.”
Prior to taking over the Adams program, Cass was an assistant to former South Bend St. Joseph head coach John Gumpf and before that an assistant to Scott Sherry at John Adams.
He credits Gumpf for much about what he knows about coaching the game.
Cass coached at South Bend East Side Little League before his first stint at Adams.
Cass came to Indiana from Pennsbury Township, Pa. — west of Philadelphia where he rooted for the Philadelphia Phillies and his favorite player, Mike Schmidt.
Further educated at Holy Cross College in Notre Dame, Ind., and Indiana University South Bend, Cass has been a bookkeeper in the South Bend Community School Corporation for the past 20 years — mostly at John Adams.
Adams (enrollment around 1,950) is a member of the NIC (with Bremen, Elkhart, Jimtown, John Glenn, Mishawaka, Mishawaka Marian, New Prairie, Penn, South Bend Clay, South Bend Riley, South Bend St. Joseph and South Bend Washington).
“We’ve got some good coaches in this conference,” says Cass. “You can tell they’re good coaches because they’re always there building a program.”
The Eagles are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with LaPorte, Michigan City, Mishawaka, Plymouth (the 2021 host) and Riley. Adams has won six sectional titles — the last in 2009.
Adams plays its home games at School Field, which is located about a mile off-campus next to the football field of the same name and Jefferson Traditional School.