Trevor Forde saw the game from behind the mask as a player. The University of Indianapolis assistant baseball coach knows what makes catchers tick. Evanston (Ill.) High School graduate Forde (pronounced Ford like the car) was a backstop and played for former catchers Nate Metzger at Heartland Community College in Normal, Ill., and Gary Vaught and Al Ready at UIndy. After competing for Frank Consiglio and graduating from Evanston in 2011, Forde played for two National Junior College Athletic Association Division II World Series qualifiers (2012 and 2013) with Metzger. “Coach Consiglio taught me to put in the work,” says Forde. “The guys that out-work you will have more success. “(Metzger, who is now associate head coach and recruiting coordinator at Wright State University) gave me my first look and passion for coaching college baseball. He’s a special human.” Forde played for Vaught at NCAA Division II Indianapolis in 2015 and 2016 and then went right into coaching, beginning with as a graduate assistant in 2017 and 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree and masters in Sport and Fitness Administration/Management from UIndy. Former Indianapolis backstop and longtime assistant Ready became head coach of the Greyhounds beginning with the 2019 season. “(Vaught and Ready) solidified that thought of coaching,” says Forde. “There’s a lot to be said why catchers get into the coaching realm. They see the whole field “They are really good at managing relationships. They work with all the pitchers. That guy steps out on the mound and he believes in you. You have that connection.” Forde says that ties in with coaching. “You’re dealing with so many personalities and getting guys to trust you,” says Forde. Many hats are worn by Forde the coach. He is in charge of Hounds catchers and also helps develop hitters and plays a big part in recruiting. “Since catcher is my former position, I take a lot of pride it that,” says Forde. “We’ve got a pretty good catching core. “In the simplest of forms I always tell catchers to make strikes strikes and we want to win the border line pitch. We’ve got to put ourselves in position to present the ball to the umpire well. We want to be on-time and have a subtle movement to manipulate the ball back to center.” Forde says every college catcher has to be able to control the running game. Throwing out would-be base stealers is one thing, but Forde shares the philosophy shared by Bellarmine University coach Larry Owens about limiting steal attempts. “That resonates with me,” says Forde. “We can show arm strength. The word can get out (to runners). If you limit the amount of attempts, the number of stolen bases is going to be reduced.” Forde says recruiting at this time of year is not as intense at the D-II level as it is in the summer and fall. “We’re tying up loose ends with guys we’ve had contact with and late bloomers,” says Forde. “Next year’s recruiting class is pretty much wrapped up for us.” In dealing with recruits, Forde tells it like it is. “We’re going to be brutally honest at times with guys,” says Forde. “We won’t present ideas that aren’t realistic. The more honest you can be with the guy — and especially with their parents — the better. “There are no grey areas. We are blunt at times.” UIndy is part of the Great Lakes Valley Conference with teams in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. Those three states plus Ohio, Kentucky and Wisconsin are at the core of the Greyhounds’ recruiting territory though the 2022 online roster also lists players from Canada and Colombia. “We’re doing a pretty good job getting in the right players who believe in what we’re trying to do,” says Forde. “We need guys who are the right fit.” In this COVID-19 pandemic era with players taking extra years of eligibility, Forde says it is important to know the players’ intentions about coming back or moving on. “He might (repeatedly) say ‘I’m coming back’ then he gets a job offer,” says Forde. “As baseball coaches we brought him into our institution to get a degree.” Forde and Ready are seeking well-rounded players and place a premium on defense. “Coach Ready said it best — we’ve got to play both ends of the game,” says Forde. “At some positions I’d take a lesser bat with a plus-glove. The game is meant to be pitching and defense. You’re only as good as that guy that you roll out on the bump. “I want my pitcher to be confident. If the ball is in-play their defense is going to make the play.” The Greyhounds go for moundsmen that understand how to pitch and that contact is not a bad thing. “We’re looking for bulldogs — guys that aren’t going to shy away from the moment,” says Forde. “That stems from our preparation. We teach guys how to pitch and how to read swings. “We want a complete pitcher.” Adam Cormwell is UIndy’s pitching coach. Scott Holdsworth is a volunteer assistant. Jacob Christie is a graduate assistant. The support staff includes athletic trainer Makenna McAteer, strength and conditioning coach Andrew Fallon and sports information GA Brady Budke. Indianapolis, which went 23-21 overall and placed second in the GLVC at 19-13, opens the 2022 season Feb. 18 at Greyhound Park against Notre Dame (Euclid, Ohio). A series at Lake Erie (Painesville, Ohio), where former UIndy assistant Landon Hutchison is now head coach, begins March 11.
Trevor and high school sweathart Emma were married in July 2020.
Landon Hutchison spent five seasons (2017-21) as an assistant baseball coach at the University of Indianapolis. The former right-handed pitcher graduated from Liberty Union High School in Baltimore, Ohio, then played four seasons at the University of Rio Grande (Ohio). He followed that up with two seasons a Red Storm graduate assistant before UIndy, where he worked primarily with pitchers. Last July, Hutchison followed former Greyhounds head coach Gary Vaught as the leader of the program at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, 30 miles northeast of Cleveland. “I’m extremely excited for this opportunity,” says Hutchison, who attended the 2022 American Baseball Coaches Association Convention in Chicago. “I can’t thank all the guys who coached with me (including Vaught, Al Ready and Trevor Forde at Indianapolis and Brad Warnimont at Rio Grande).” While he was still in Indianapolis at the beginning, Hutchison started at Lake Erie in the middle of the summer recruiting season. “I immediately started hitting the needs,” says Hutchison. “We have a very strong 2022 (recruiting class) and we got the pieces that we needed to be competitive. “It’s looking bright for the future.” Besides Ohio, Hutchison counts players from Indiana (Calumet New Tech’s Caleb Deel), California, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Argentina, Canada and Mexico on the published roster. Hutchison says he wants to carry a large number of players. “Division II schools typically get more arms and having that depth helps a lot,” says Hutchison. There is also competition with the team. “(Players) know that there’s guys that are going to try to take their job and then next year it’s going to be the exact same way,” says Hutchison. “But I’m trying not to over-recruit and be as honest as I can during the recruiting process. The recruiting board is sitting right there for any guy that comes to visit. “Once that position’s done, that position’s done. I don’t want a situation where I have six shortstops, 18 outfielders or anything like that. Once that (desired) number is hit that class is done.” Through his involvement with Pastime Tournaments while in Indiana, Hutchison was able to cultivate relationships and identify some talent. “(Pastime Tournaments president) Tom Davidson was unbelievable in helping me get to where I am now with my career,” says Hutchison. “He knew that was the end goal.” Like UIndy, Lake Erie is an NCAA Division II school (the Storm are in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference). The difference for Hutchison is that he now has a hand in all aspects of the team — from scheduling and travel accommodations and all facets of the game. With that in mind, he attended many ABCA Convention sessions on the position player side of things. “The relationships are a little bit broader now,” says Hutchison, who has hired two graduate assistant and a volunteer coach to help him. “Rather than just the pitching staff and a handful of position players, it’s every guy. “It’s been my goal to create a great culture and the guys understand that we really care about them. We’re trying to have their best interests with everything we do with the development side of things and education. “We had one of the highest team GPA’s (last semester) that we’ve had in a long time.” Hutchison will also be able to use technology and training aids in his new position, including products from Rapsodo, Blast Motion and Driveline. Lake Erie is to open the 2022 season Feb. 25 in Evansville against the University of Southern Indiana.
Franklin (Ind.) College enjoyed a 25-14 baseball season in 2021. The Grizzlies hit .299 as a team with 152 extra-base hits (45 home runs) and 87 stolen bases. Of the top eight players in at-bats, six were seniors. Franklin’s fall workouts included many newcomers. “We worked a lot on team offense and defense,” says Jake Sprinkle, who is in his second season as a Franklin assistant coach in 2021-22. “We have a lot of new faces and we want to get those guys acclimated. “We had a lot of scrimmages, letting pitchers and hitters show what they’ve got.” NCAA Division III rules restrict coach-player contact in the winter. “We don’t have individual time,” says Sprinkle. “Seniors and leaders are setting up hitting and throwing groups. They’re making velo and exit velocity jumps and getting stronger in the weight room.” Sprinkle, who works for head coach and associate director of athletics Lance Marshall, has been hitting the recruiting trail and getting plans in place and equipment ordered for the spring of 2022. The season is slated to begin Feb. 26 against Albion at Grizzly Park. “This time of year we’re getting a lot of kids on-campus,” says Sprinkle of recruiting. “We’re trying to get some guys bought-in. We’re still working on 2022 (recruiting) class and reaching out to some 2023’s we’ve seen in the past.” The Franklin website lists a 2021 roster of 45 with 40 of those hailing from Indiana. Sprinkle, who turns 26 on Dec. 28, was born and raised in the Franklin Township section of Indianapolis. He played tennis and baseball at Franklin Central High School. Twin brother Ben was his tennis doubles partner and a baseball teammate. The Flashes were coached on the diamond by John Rockey. “He was an awesome guy,” says Sprinkle of Rockey. “He brought a ton of energy to practice. He taught us what we needed to do at a younger age and prepared guys for college. “We wanted to show up and work every single day.” Jacob Wickliff (now head baseball coach at Beech Grove High School) was a Franklin Central teammate of the Sprinkle brothers. Sprinkle was a right-handed pitcher at the University of Indianapolis. As a UIndy freshman in 2015, Sprinkle went 8-2 with 2.97 earned run average. He struck out 32 and walked 11 in 63 2/3 inning. Tommy John arm surgery caused him to miss the 2016 season and he was granted a medical redshirt before pitching for the Greyhounds from 2017-19. For his four college seasons, he was 22-9 with 3.86 ERA, 179 strikeouts and 68 walks in 240 innings. Sprinkle’s first four years were spent with Gary Vaught as head coach with Al Ready moving up to be head coach his fifth year. “(Coach Vaught) was so personable,” says Sprinkle. “He made everybody feel like they were special and created a personal bond. He would make sure people knew he was there for them. “(Coach Ready) is extremely dedicated and hard-working. He’s a guy who’s going to put his best foot forward, do his research and whatever he can to win.” Landon Hutchison was the Greyhounds pitching coach Sprinkle’s last few seasons. After his college playing days, Sprinkle was briefly in the United Shore Professional Baseball League in the summer of 2019 then spent a year as a UIndy graduate assistant. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Marketing/Information Systems and a master’s degree in Sports Management from UIndy. He joined Marshall’s Franklin coaching staff in September 2020. “(Coach Marshall) is an awesome guy,” says Sprinkle. “He’s extremely hard-working and does everything the right way. “He builds a championship culture — on and off the field.” Besides recruiting, Sprinkle is in charge of Grizzlies infielders and hitters and helps with pitchers. “With our infielders, we’re big on making the routine play,” says Sprinkle. “We re-set every play. It’s about being athletic. “The hitters’ approach is about being on-time and driving the baseball in the gap.” Last summer, Sprinkle coached a 17U travel team for Mike Chitwood’s Indiana Elite organization and will be leading a 17U squad for Chad Fowler’s Powerhouse Athletics group in the summer of 2022. “I thought that’s where my path would take me,” says Sprinkle of coaching. “I was very fortunate to have a lot of great coaches. “I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.” Sprinkle comes from a baseball-loving family. He and his brother grew up being coached by their father, Tracy Sprinkle with support from mother Lori Sprinkle and sister Malorie Sprinkle (a former Franklin Central softball player who’s now a Butler University freshman). Ben Sprinkle began went to Kentucky Wesleyan College for baseball before transferring to Franklin.
Brendan Dudas determined that he needed on a career change and left the business world that he entered after college for education. He became a teacher in 2020-21. “It’s the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s so fulfilling,” says Dudas, who is teaching fourth graders at Mary Bryan Elementary in the Southport section of Indianapolis, in the first part of 2021-22. “I can be a male role model for some of the boys in the school. They might say, ‘I can be a teacher just like Mr. Dudas someday.’” The Mary Bryan campus is the site of Holder Field – home of Southport High School baseball. Dudas was hired as the Cardinals head baseball coach in July and plans call for him to begin teaching college and career prep to SHS freshmen after winter break. The high school dismisses at 2 p.m. and the elementary at 4. Just like he does with The Dirtyard as founder of Circle City Wiffle®, Dudas did some sprucing at Holder Field. “I’ve edged it,” says Dudas. “I want to give the kids something to be proud of.” A 2013 graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis (PM and Southport are both part of Perry Township Schools), Dudas went to the University of Indianapolis to study and play baseball. He redshirted as a freshman and then competed for the Gary Vaught-coached Greyhounds for four seasons (2015-18) while earning a bachelor’s degree in Supply Chain Management and a Master’s in Business Administration. Dudas describes the fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period with Southport players. “I got right to work,” says Dudas. “I was excited to get out there and see what I had. “We did a lot of skill work and broke things down to the basics. By the end of the fall, the Cardinals were participating in modified scrimmages. Right now, players are working on conditioning and team bonding. “Last night they ran in the snow,” says Dudas, who is eager for the next Limited Contact window to open on Dec. 6. “On 12-6 we’re going to get reps after reps in the (batting) cage – whatever we have to do to simulate being on the field.” Southport has an indoor facility with cages and a turf floor. If it gets too cold in there, practice can be shifted to an auxiliary gym. Dudes’ 2022 assistants are Jordan Tackett (pitching coach), Thomas Hopkins, Keegan Caughey, Chris Cox and Mike Gaylor. Tackett (Perry Meridian Class of 2013) and Dudas played together at age 10 with the Edgewood Bulldogs (later known as the Indy Irish) and at Perry Meridian and UIndy. Dudas met Hopkins, who played at Hanover College, through Wiffle®Ball. Caughey is Dudas’ best friend and was also in the Perry Meridian Class of ’13. Cox is a holdover from 2021 and will be the junior varsity head coach. Southport (enrollment around 2,250) is a member of Conference Indiana (with Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Columbus North, Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo). In 2021, the Cardinals were part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Franklin Central, Perry Meridian, Roncalli and Warren Central. Southport has won 13 sectional crowns — the last in 2008. Senior Zachary Shepherd recently signed to play of Southport graduate Tony Vittorio at Wilmington (Ohio) College. Dudas says he may have a few more college commits in his senior class and sees plenty of potentials in his “young guns.” Left-handed pitcher Avery Short was selected in 12th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks straight out of Southport. He competed at Low-Class A Visalia in 2021. The high school program is fed in part by Southport Little League. “(Administrators) want us to visit there and get it thriving again,” says Dudas. Southport Middle School plays condensed baseball schedule in the spring. Brendan and Madison Dudas have been married for two years. They’ve been best friends since they were in sixth grade. Madison Dudas is in the Indiana University School of Medicine-Indianapolis campus. The couple lives in Perry Township and are raising Brendan’s nephews – Kevin and Tristan. He was a true sophomore at UIndy when he took the boys in following the death of his sister to a heroin overdose. “We have a support system here,” says Brendan. “That’s why (coming to Southport) here is so appealing.”
Only a few years removed from playing himself, Adam Cornwell sees what makes today’s young baseball players tick in the era of metrics and analytics. “It’s a different era of baseball,” says Cornwell, a former pitcher at Bloomington High School North, the University of Indianapolis, University of Pittsburgh and independent professional ball and the head coach of the 2021 Park Rangers in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. “They want to show off their athletic ability a little more as well as their velocity, strength and all this stuff. “Metrics are a big numbers and they’re being used. Every single pitch is measured.” When not guiding the Park Rangers, Cornwell can often be found at Grand Park learning how to use technology like TrackMan. He is also seeking his next full-time gig. He just finished a two-year stint on the coaching staff at the University of Dayton, where he had access to Rapsodo, Synergy and more. Jayson King is the Flyers head coach. Cornwell assisted pitching coach Travis Ferrick. Dayton won 11 straight Atlantic-10 Conference games leading into the conference tournament where the Flyers were beaten by Virginia Commonwealth in the championship game. Cornwell spent the 2019 season at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. It Paul Panik’s first season as a head coach and his Gaels staff was among the youngest in NCAA Division I with Panik (29), head assistant Andrew Pezzuto (26), volunteer J.T. Genovese (23) and pitching coach Cornwell (24). “Learning with those guys was awesome,” says Cornwell, now 26. “I had freedom and it made me grow faster. I was thrown into the fire early. “I’m super-thankful for the opportunity I was given over there.” Before beginning his coaching career, right-hander Cornwell pitched briefly with the Frontier League’s 2018 Traverse City (Mich.) Beach Bums. Manager Dan Rohn and pitching coach Greg Cadaret were former big leaguers. Cornwell was signed by Traverse City after playing for the Grizzly in the California Winter League in Palm Springs. There he got to work with Dom Johnson and work out with Joe Musgrove (who pitched the first no-hitter in San Diego Padres history April 9, 2021). “Dom is probably the best pitching coach in the country,” says Cornwell. “He’s just a stud. “I got to work out with (Musgrave) a lot. I got to learn how pro guys go about their day and their business. Dom showed me how I needed to change my ways of working out. He is the guy that made me the player I was.” Cornwell was connected to Johnson through Tracy Smith, whom Cornwell knew from Smith’s time as head coach at Indiana University in Bloomington. “He is the reason I wanted to get into coaching,” says Cornwell of the former Arizona State University head coach. “I see the way he was day in and day out and how his kids looked up to him. He’s their hero. There’s no better family than that family.” Smith’s children are among Cornwell’s best friends. Jack Smith was going to be in his Oct. 24 wedding in Bloomington (Cornwell is engaged to Renee Rhoades of St. Charles, Ill.) but he is expected to be the starting quarterback at Central Washington University after transferring from Arizona State. Cornwell played three seasons for College Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Vaught and pitching coach Mark Walther at UIndy and graduated in 3 1/2 years. He joined the Pitt Panthers featuring head coach Joe Jordano and pitching coach Jerry Oakes just before the start of the 2017 season. “I credit my coaching path to Coach Vaught,” says Cornwell. “He got me to the University of Pittsburgh. That’s where I made connections to start coaching.” Cornwell, who holds Sport Management from Indianapolis and master’s degree in Athletic Coaching from Ball State University, appreciates his relationship with Walther. “He’s a great dude and a hard worker,” says Cornwell. “As a pitching coach he allowed me to be me.” Walther, the director of operations at Pro X Athlete Development, now runs the College Summer League at Grand Park and Cornwell reached out to him and landed his position with the Park Rangers and has former UIndy pitcher John Hendry and former Center Grove High School pitcher and current Trojans freshmen coach Zach Anderson as assistants. Born and raised in Bloomington, Cornwell played in Danny Smith Park Baseball Leagues in Unionville, Ind., beginning at age 4. The Smithville (Ind.) Sluggers were an early travel team. In high school, he was with the Southern Indiana Redbirds among others. That team featured three players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft — Seymour High School graduate Zack Brown (fifth round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016), Columbus North alum Daniel Ayers (25th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2013) and Greenwood Community graduate Alex Krupa (35th round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2015). In one tournament at East Cobb in Atlanta, Cornwell’s team picked up Nick Senzel as a shortstop and Cornwell pitched the only no-hitter of his career. Senzel is now an outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds. A 2013 Bloomington North graduate, Cornwell play for Richard Hurt. “He’s a worker and he does everything right,” says Cornwell of Hurt. “He’s on top of everything. He’s super-prepared. Every practice is down to the T. “He demands respect and in return he gives a ton of respect to his players and the freed to be what they want to be. That’s the way these kids are taking to coaching and he understands that.” Adam is the son of Kara (John) Jacobs and George (Michelle) Cornwell and has seven siblings — Andrew, Matt, Allison, Jake, Sabrina, Ayden and Addisyn.
Gary Vaught did not see himself leading another college baseball program.
When he retired a head coach at the University of Indianapolis in 2018, Vaught wanted to spend more time with his ailing mother back in Norman, Okla., and was secure in the knowledge that UIndy was in good hands with his former Greyhounds assistant Al Ready.
He had agreed to be head coach/general manager for the Hoptown Hoppers, a summer collegiate wood bat team in Hopkinsville, Ky., then Lake Eric College, a private school and NCAA Division II school in Painesville, Ohio (30 miles northeast of Cleveland) came calling.
Vaught was on vacation with friends when former LEC athletic director Kelley Kish (who had been in the compliance office at UIndy) reached out.
With so many former assistants in coaching, including Jordan Tiegs (now in the Texas Rangers system), Vaught was glad to recommend a candidate or two to the Storm.
Vaught was invited to the Lake Erie campus and met with president Brian Posler (who had served at Kansas State University and the University of Southern Indiana).
The job was offered to Vaught and he took it in January.
“I fell in love with the people up there,” says Vaught, who works for athletic director Mollie Hoffman.
Vaught led the Storm to a 3-6-1 mark in a COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. All but one of the losses came in the final inning.
The virus caused the Hoppers season to be called off and the veteran coach spent much of his time between Indianapolis and Oklahoma.
Vaught’s career mark at the NCAA D-I or D-II levels to 978-672-2.
Then there’s the 305 victories Vaught racked up at the beginning of his coaching career at Connors State College in Warren, Okla.
Vaught, 69, is back in Indianapolis with the Lake Erie closed down because of COVID, but he’s still coaching the Storm.
His fire was reignited last spring and continues to burn.
“I’ve got a lot of energy,” says Vaught. “I love the game. It’s been a big part of my life. Hopefully we’ve made changes in kids’ lives.”
Each year around Christmas, Vaught receives and makes calls to former players. He also reaches out to mentor Gary Ward, who enjoyed so much success at Oklahoma State University and is a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It doesn’t take anytime to pick up the phone and say thank you,” says Vaught. “Treat people how they are supposed to be treated. That’s how to try to do everyday as a coach.
“The Lord’s blessed me in so many ways.”
The veteran skipper has so many “baseball brothers” that he appreciates in the baseball fraternity. Among those are Tracy Archuleta (University of Southern Indiana), Rick O’Dette (Saint Leo Universty), Larry Owens (Bellarmine University) and Josh Rabe (Quincy University).
And the list goes on.
Vaught says he looks forward to bringing his team to UIndy for a April 14, 2021 doubleheader, where he can take the field against former players now coaching the Greyhounds Ready (whose son Cam is a godchild to Vaught) and Trevor Forde. UIndy AD Scott Young was Vaught’s assistant for 14 years.
Former Greyhounds AD Dave Huffman hired Vaught in 1994 and the coach also worked with Sue Willey in her tenure as AD.
At 62 and in a year where he lost his wife, Tyner has a different perspective.
“I’m pretty intense as a competitor,” says Tyner. “As you age you don’t lose your intensity, it becomes a different kind of focus. I’m a little more cerebral. Yelling and screaming might have worked in the ‘90s. That doesn’t work now. You have to think about who you’re talking to.
“Hopefully I’ve calmed down. As you mature, you go from thinking it’s your team to how can I serve the kid? Or how can I share the information I’ve learned in my 40 years in the game?”
It’s a horizontal relationship. Tyner lets his assistants take their strengths and run with them.
“I’m not ego-driven anymore,” says Tyner. “We can all learn something from each other and coaches and kids benefit.”
Coaching friends — like Tony Vittorio — are quick to point out when Tyner might lose sight of what his job is.
“I’m a father first and a coach second,” says Tyner. “I don’t have just one son, I have 38 his year. I’m older than all my coaches, so I have more even more sons.”
Tyner was a standout in Decatur, Ill., playing for Ray DeMoulin (a bird dog scout for the Cincinnati Reds who allowed Tyner to try out at 15) at MacAthur High School and Lee Handley (who played in the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers systems) as American Legion manager.
The coin came up heads. Tyner went to Florida, made the Hurricanes roster and played on College World Series teams in 1978, 1979 and 1980, earning Baskin Robbins Player of the Year honors in that final season.
At Miami, Tyner was around coaching legends Ron Fraser and Skip Bertman. The young outfielder marveled at how the two baseball minds could anticipate what was going to happen in a game.
“How did they do that?” says Tyner. who refers to Bertman as a walking baseball encyclopedia. “I hovered closed to him. His sixth sense was incredible.”
Fraser called them the “Miami Greyhounds.”
“I felt I was on a track team,” says Tyner. “That’s how much we ran. We were in shape.”
Before the current 56-game spring limit in NCAA Division I, Miami typically played more than 100 games counting fall and spring.
In 1981, he enjoyed his best offensive and worst defensive season. The parent Orioles had decided to move Cal Ripken Jr. from third base to shortstop and decided to make Tyner into a third sacker. But the hot corner proved pretty hot for him and he made 20 errors in 51 games at third for the Hagerstown Suns.
Fans down both baselines let him know about it with a group of ladies on the third base side pointing out the places where the ball struck the “human dartboard.” Hagerstown spectators donned hard hats on the first base side in case of errant Tyner throws.
His roommate on the road was pitcher Julian Gonzalez. During a game in Salem, Va., after Tyner committed his third error, Hagerstown manager Grady Little came to the mound. Gonzalez told the skipper that his roomie had to go.
There was a bus accident the first weekend of season. The vehicle landed on its side.
“I felt something pop in my back way down low,” says Tyner. “24 hours later I couldn’t move. I missed over 30 games that summer.
At the plate, Tyner was locked in, hitting .301 with 31 home runs and 113 runs batted for the Suns in 1981.
After that, Tyner went back to the outfield where he vied with Drungo Hazewood for the unofficial title of best arm in the Orioles organization.
He would go on to belt 79 home runs in 365 games, playing for Hagerstown in 1981 and 1983 and the Charlotte O’s in 1982 and 1983. Multiple surgeries for bone chips in his right elbow put and end to Tyner’s pro career.
“I put my arm through a little bit of abuse,” says Tyner. “I was a quarterback and pitched in high school. Who knows what I did? It didn’t fail me for five more years. At Miami, I had a really good arm.”
“I’m not sure it gets much better than that,” says Tyner.
It was while coming to Indianapolis to finish his degree at Concordia University that Tyner connected with Butler head coach Steve Farley and began coaching for the Bulldogs. The first go-round, he was on Farley’s staff from 1993-97.
A relationship with the Bulls led to the press box and stands that are there to this day.
At the time, Dave Taylor was president of the organization and Craig Moore was head coach of the 17U team. Tyner started out with the 15U squad.
After coaching four years at Butler making $325 per semester, Tyner decided it was time to make money for his family — wife Laura, daughter Lindsay and son Matthew and got into communication sales and real estate.
Lindsay Dempsey, who is worked as a Registered Nurse, is now 36, married with two children and living Switzerland. Matthew Tyner, 33, is married and a finance and operations manager in Indianapolis.
When Matthew became a teenager, the Bulls approached his father about coaching a new 13U team with Jeremy Guler. The next year, Matt Tyner and Jeff Jamerson coached their sons Matthew and Jason on the 14U Bulls.
“We had top-shelf athletes way ahead of their time,” says Tyner of a team that featured future pros Lance Lynn (Brownsburg), Tommy Hunter (Cathedral) and J.B. Paxson (Center Grove). “It was fun to watch them play.”
“He imparted so much baseball knowledge on these kids,” says Tyner of Alexander, who was integral current baseball fields at Purdue University as well as Indianapolis Bishop Chatard High School, where Matthew Tyner played for Trojans head coach Mike Harmon and graduated in 2005. “What a treat that was.”
A few years later, Matt Tyner got the itch to coach baseball again. This time Farley could pay him a living wage and he went back to work at Butler in August 2007. Pendleton Heights graduate Jason Jamerson was a Bulldog senior in 2009.
“They made me feel like a king and there was one great speaker after the next for 2 1/2 days,” says Tyner. “As a coach you can’t be everything to everybody. But I’m going to use this nugget and I’m going to use that nugget.
“That’s money well-spent.”
In the summer of 2010, Tyner was offered the head coaching position at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. Knights athletic director Scott Wiegandt had been a Triple-A Louisville teammate of Tracy Woodson, a former big league third baseman, Fort Wayne Wizards manager who was then Valparaiso University head coach.
Farley, Woodson and University of Indianapolis head coach Gary Vaught gave Tyner their endorsement.
“We made some serious strides in that program,” says Tyner, who coached then-NCAA Division II Bellarmine to 26-26 and 27-23 marks in 2011 and 2012 with a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title and an appearance in the regional tournament championship game against the Grand Valley State University the second year.
Brandon Tormoehlen, now head coach at Brownstown (Ind.) Central High School, was on Tyner’s coaching staff.
Woodson became head coach at the University of Richmond (Va.) and called Tyner to be his recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. It was a post he held for four seasons.
“We had some pretty strong offensive teams,” says Tyner of his time with the Spiders.
Then Towson reached out and hit Tyner was an offer to be the Tigers head coach.
“The first two years at Towson was a challenge for all of us,” says Tyner, who saw his teams go 13-42 in 2018 and 14-39 in 2019. “We are process-driven and not results-driven. Took awhile for those entrenched in a different system to get it.
“Last year was their chance to shine.”
Indianapolis native Laura Anne Tyner passed away Feb. 10 in her hometown and Matt took a leave of absence at Towson. Matt and Laura were wed in 1983. She taught children with special needs and spent 20 years in real estate management.
With former Butler and Purdue University assistant Miller running the team, the 2020 Towson Tigers went 7-8 before the COVID-19 shutdown.
Tyner went down to see the team play in the opener of a weekend series in Miami. It turned out to be a pitchers’ dual. The Hurricanes held on for a 2-1 Feb. 28 victory. Freshman catcher Burke Camper just barely missed a home run in the top of the ninth inning.
“It was a game for the ages,” says Tyner. “It was unbelievable for me to watch and be a part of.”
A few days later, it was decided between Tyner and Towson athletic director Tim Leonard that the coach would come back to the program in mid-March.
“I needed baseball more than baseball needed me,” says Tyner, who got back in time to see the season prematurely halted with the campus being closed and all classes going online. He came back to Indianapolis.
When things opened back up, players were placed in summer leagues. This fall, the Tigers worked out with social distancing and other COVID precautions.
“It was the most competitive for all of us since I’ve been here,” says Tyner. “We have a chance to be pretty good (2021).”
Towson is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tigers are not fully-funded. There are 6.2 scholarships available and the NCAA Division I limit is 11.7.
“God love the AD and president of this university (Tim Leonard and Dr. Kim Schaztel),” says Tyner. “They’ve done a phenomenal job of keeping us afloat.
Chris Marx prides himself on his versatility as a college baseball coach.
The Evansville, Ind., native has been in charge of hitters and — more recently — he has led pitchers.
“It was a seamless transition,” says Marx. “Hitting and pitching are extremely similar. Working from the ground up, you’re trying capture the most energy in your pitch or swing.”
The way Marx sees it, hitters and pitchers are both rotational athletes.
Marx, a graduate of Mater Dei High School (2003) and the University of Southern Indiana (bachelor’s degree in 2008 and master’s in 2010) in Evansville, was hired as the pitching coach at Purdue University in West Lafayette, bringing wife Niki (a Mater Dei graduate) and sons Clayton (5) and Maddox (3) back to Indiana. The Boilermakers were 7-7 when the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic brought the 2020 season to a premature end.
Marx asks his pitchers to establish some feel and command in the strike zone and develop an efficient delivery.
He also has them go through a physical assessment to see if the athletes can get into the necessary positions. They are checked for hip, ankle and T-Spine mobility as well as core stability.
When it comes to the motion, it’s important to “disassociate the hips from the shoulders.”
“We try to get the guys to feel the kinetic chain from the ground up,” says Marx. “We’re getting our lower half out of the way.
“We want to get to a hinge position (basic deadlift position where our butt is behind our heel). We want to sit back as opposed to sit down.”
The aim is for pitchers to get our hand to move toward the catcher’s glove and our target for as long as possible.
Marx shared a Tweet from New York Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman that sums up the desired approach: “For my young ones asking me about mechanics. This is the position I try to master. I feel unbelievably strong here. Ribs down, core engaged and glutes turned on. Upper body relaxed. Opposite of max effort. I want to be effortless. My arm is just along for the ride!”
Says Marx, “We say that just about everyday — ‘hips lead the hand’ or ‘arm just along for the ride.’
“This is what we want them to feel in their catch play and, ultimately, getting on the mound.”
Basic movements or check points that Marx stresses include getting to the top of the leg lift, the hinge position, getting the lower half to lead and staying closed on top.
When Purdue was in action, pitchers had two velocity days a week — one live and one bullpen. They threw medicine balls and work on creating a consistent delivery.
They were asked to go through their motion six or seven days a week to create muscle memory.
“We want to do it early,” says Marx. “We are dealing with rotational athletes that are sitting in class all day and not rotating. We want to wake up those muscles as soon as they get to the field. We want to set a really good movement pattern before we pick up a baseball.
“Hopefully we recognize when we’re outside that muscle memory and can make one-pitch adjustments to get back into the zone.”
On the mental side, pitchers were encouraged to find an aggressive, consistent thought process and to set their focus.
“We want to own our routines,” says Marx. “We use our breath to trigger our last thought. It helps us choose our last thought before we deliver our pitch.”
Positive self talk goes along with routines.
“Confidence is probably your most important thing when you’re out there standing on the mound,” says Marx. “We get into a lot of stressful situations. We want to get to the peak state of mind so our body is doing what it’s trained to do. We don’t have to think about anything, we can just compete and enjoy the moment.”
Since the shutdown, coaches have been getting players to stay on top of their academics while also reflecting the season and looking ahead to the summer and fall. While there are no currently games to attend, Marx says coaches have been looking at potential recruits.
Chris Marx, an Evansville, Ind., native, was hired as an assistant baseball coach at Purdue University in the summer of 2019. He has been in charge of the Boilermakers pitchers. (Purdue University Photo)
Indiana State University opens its 2019 baseball season with a three-game series Feb. 15-17 at Jacksonville (Fla.) University.
Fifth-year Sycamores pitching coach Jordan Tiegs is getting ISU arms ready for the opener and beyond.
“We’re full-go,” says Tiegs. “We’re building guys now. Some are up to four innings. We’d like our starters to be able to go six innings that first weekend.”
The process has been happening with both both scrimmages and bullpen sessions. They train with overload and underload throwing balls.
“We want to get it as close to what it’s like during the season as possible,” says Tiegs. Pitchers generally pitch live in intrasquad games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while there is more bullpen work on Monday through Thursday.
ISU’s online roster lists 17 pitchers. All three of the team’s weekend starters from 2018 when the Sycamores went 31-24 overall and 11-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference — senior left-hander Triston Polley (Brownsburg High School graduate), senior right-hander Tyler Ward (Heritage Hills) and junior left-hander Tristan Weaver — return.
Polley went 7-2, Ward 6-3 and Weaver 3-5 in 2018.
Redshirt junior right-hander Colin Liberatore, who pitched at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, is in the starting mix. Weekday starter Weston Rivers is not back.
While primary closer Ethan Larrison (25 appearances with nine saves) has moved on to professional baseball, 6-foot-5 junior left-hander Tyler Grauer (21 appearances with three saves) did some closing in 2018 and he’s back.
“We lost a lot of leads in sixth and seventh innings last year,” says Tiegs. “That will be a big emphasis this year.”
Cross, a 6-7 junior, is one of seven pitchers on the staff who were in junior college last season.
Tiegs calls junior Frey, also a JC transfer, a “competitive bulldog” who throws strikes.
Coming to Indiana State as a two-way player as a JC transfer, the Sycamores have decided to let junior Kramer focus on pitching.
“He may have the best arm on the staff,” says Tiegs.
Sophomore Ridgway impressed ISU coaches during a showcase camp and was made a full-time pitcher as a freshman.
Junior Guerrero is considered a “swing” man who could be used as a starter or in long or short relief.
Being tall with long limbs is helpful for a pitcher.
But size is not always the determining factor in success.
“In a perfect world, they could all be 6-3 and 215 (the average size of a big league starter),” says Tiegs. “But what about the 5-9 guy who throws in the low to mid 90’s and can really spin it and is really competitive?.
“We have a bit of a mix here,” says Tiegs, who has 6-9 junior left-hander Will Buraconak and 5-9 freshman righty Paul Wendling in the pitching corps. “Both are going to help us a lot.”
Of course the plan on paper in February is not always what unfolds by May.
But one thing is constant.
“We want guys who are going to compete for the right reasons and execute their game plan,” says Tiegs of his pitchers. “We want to generate as much weak contact as we can.
“For some guys play book is simple. For some, it’s more complicated. It’s what they can handle.”
When recruiting, Tiegs wants pitchers who have a feel for the game around them and not ones who “can win the 60-foot, 6-inch battle” only.
“These are the ones who can’t hold runners and can’t field their positions,” says Tiegs. “Guys don’t work on these days as much as they used to.
“You can forget that a whole game is being played.”
“He’s a very smart baseball guy,” says Tiegs of Hannahs. “He knows what pitching means to a team. It can make or break your entire season.”
Hannahs gives his perspective while giving Tiegs the freedom to develop his staff his way.
“As a former infielder, he has a pretty good feel for what pitchers go through on the mental side,” says Tiegs.
The mental side of the game is something that is addressed daily by Tiegs in practice.
“We get them in the right frame of mind on the mind,” says Tiegs. “We want them to be in control of their thoughts and in the moment.
“They should keep things as simple as possible and not get the wheels spinning too much.”
Speaking of spinning, Indiana State does keep tabs on spin rate, spin axis and rotation using Rapsodo technology.
Tiegs notes that the use of TrackMan is another way of getting analytic feedback.
This can help players “develop a better version of themselves.”
“We don’t want to overkill with it,” says Tiegs. “It’s just another tool.”
Tiegs is a 2005 graduate of Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.
There was no high school baseball in his district. But he played on an elite travel team. The London Badgers played about 80 games a year from April to September with three or four tournaments in the U.S.
Tiegs also participated in volleyball, basketball, hockey and tennis and is definitely a believer in the concept of the multi-sport athlete.
“It can hurt your athletic growth if you eliminate things at a younger age,” says Tiegs. “Using different movements, it’s only going to help in baseball with agility and coordination.
“The more you can be exposed to that stuff is only going to benefit you. You’re going to get enough isolated work when you get to college.”
Tiegs wants his pitchers to be as athletic as possible.
“Pitchers can get a bad rap at being the non-athletes on the field,” says Tiegs, who has his ISU hurlers go through circuit training — strength and mobility — each day before they ever throw a baseball.
Having played and coached at the two levels, what is the main difference in NCAA Division I and II from a pitching perspective?
“It’s in the depth of lineups you see day in and day out,” says Tiegs. “You can get away with more mistakes (in D-II). With the better D-I teams, you need to be sharp for 7, 8, 9 guys in lineup. When they hit your mistakes, it’s usually louder.”
Jordan and wife Chelsea Tiegs are expecting their first child in late March.
As a third baseman and pitcher, Wells started on varsity as a freshman for head coach John Heckman at Owen Valley. It wasn’t a common practice at the school at that time.
“Age doesn’t really matter,” says Wells of the message being sent by his coach. “You put your best nine out there and go with it.”
After the spring of 1999, John Heckman turned the Patriots program after that season to his son, Trent Heckman.
“I I learned a lot about quality of practice and to work hard at all times,” says Wells of the Heckamans. Wells graduated from OV in 2002.
Gary Vaught, who retired after the 2018 season with 808 career victories and a pair of trips to the NCAA Division II World Series, passed on the importance of discipline to Wells in his two campaigns with the Greyhounds (2003 and 2004).
Vaught held his players accountable. They knew where they needed to be and when. If they failed to do so, there was a price. It could involve playing time or, perhaps, extra running or conditioning.
“Kids don’t understand that being a college athlete is a full-time job,” says Wells, who found that out first-hand. “I also picked up valuable techniques and skills I try to instill in my players today.”
Finishing his history eduction degree at UIndy in 2006, Wells had an idea that he would like to be a baseball coach. He is heading into his third season as Greencastle head coach in 2019 after four campaigns as an assistant.
With about 550 students, Greencastle is the fourth-smallest 3A school in Indiana. The Tiger Cubs are in an IHSAA sectional with Brebeuf Jesuit, Danville Community, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Indianapolis Northwest and Tri-West Hendricks.
The schedule includes some varsity/junior varsity doubleheaders.
The one-day Putnam County tournament brings Greencastle, Cloverdale, North Putnam and South Putnam together for competition. The Tigers Cubs won the event in 2018.
What about the 2019 team?
“We have a pretty talented sophomore group,” says Wells, who expects to have number of players who played varsity as freshmen in last spring. Among those are Bryce Barger, Ethan Maier, Jordan Meyer, Nick Sutherlin and Brody Whitaker.
Seniors Alex Costin, Tanner Sanders and Trey Wood are also in the mix.
The Tigers Cubs have not yet had any college baseball commitments. Wood plans to attend Taylor University in Upland, Ind., to play football. Recent graduate Tanner Nicholson is on the baseball team at Franklin (Ind.) College.
Wellls’ assistant coaches are Greencastle head boys basketball coach Bryce Rector (who is also head JV baseball coach) and boys basketball assistant Craig Whitaker.
The Tiger Cubs play on-campus on a field that was recently added new infield dirt, clay mixture around home plate and upgrades for drainage.
“There’s still a lot more we want to do,” says Wells.
A seventh grade social studies teacher at Greencastle Middle School, Wells has the opportunity to get to know future players before they get to high school.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” says Wells. “I get a head start building relationships with those players.”
“What we’ve lacked in the past is a feeder program,” says Wells. “When I grew up, Babe Ruth was the big thing. When we got to high school, we had known each other and played together since we were young.”
Such a system would build camaraderie and Wells would know what he had coming at the high school level.
“It’s something I’m trying to build,” says Wells. “We have not been able to get it pulled off yet.”
Greencastle is coming to the end of its fall baseball workouts. A new IHSAA rule allows coaches to practice with their teams for two hours two days a week during a certain period of time. The window closes after Oct. 12 and opens against the first week of December.
“I kind of like it,” says Wells. “I puts us all on a similar playing field. We’re a smaller school and have to share a lot of our athletes. (The rule) allows us to get as many guys together at once to throw and get in their cuts. It keep us in baseball shape throughout the year.
“It also helps us not burn out students on one thing.”
Ben and Kristen Wells have been married 11 years and have three children — 5-year-old son Lincoln and 3-year-old twin daughters Britain and Brooklyn.
Greencastle (Ind.) High School won the 2018 Putnam County baseball tournament. Tiger Cubs with the hardware are (from left): assistant coach Bryce Rector, Gus Manion, assistant coach Craig Whitaker, Abe Wade, head coach Ben Wells and Jacob Harris.