By STEVE KRAH
Mike Schoenradt is in charge for the first season of Tri-Township Tigers baseball in 2023.
Formerly an assistant at North Judson-San Pierre High School, Schoenradt (pronounced Shin-Rod) is a new head coach leading the program at the former LaCrosse in LaPorte County.
Tri-Township (enrollment around 110) is a member of the Porter County Conference (with Boone Grove, Hebron, Kouts, Morgan Township, South Central of Union Mills, Washington Township and Westville).
The Tigers are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023 with Argos, Culver Community, Marquette Catholic, Oregon-Davis, South Bend Career Academy, Triton and Westville. LaCrosse won four sectional crowns — the last in 1984.
Schoenradt was on Ronald Benakovich’s staff at North Judson.
“RB is the man and has been a great mentor for me to have,” says Schoenradt. “The biggest coaching advice I could ever have is ‘Stop watching the play and start watching the whole game.’ It’s so easy to get zoned into watching the play at-hand that you forget to watch the whole field.
“You have multiple guys on that field and were they all where they needed to be? were they doing there job? RB telling me that was huge for me and letting me know what I needed to be better at.”
Schoenradt has a plan for the Tigers.
“A big emphasis this year is preparation defensively before the game and being a aggressive at the plate,” says Schoenradt. “I went over a lot of there games last year and the errors and the at bats were a big issue.
“A big thing I noticed was how often they let themselves get behind in the count with strikes looking. Getting them in the right mindset of knowing your zone and being ready to attack have been an emphasis of ours.”
There are currently 14 players in the program. Tri-Township will play a varsity schedule in 2023. With more participation, Schoenradt says a junior varsity can be added in the future.
Schoenradt’s coaching staff features Kolton Linback, Jason Flores and Xavier Sanchez.
“(Linback) takes care of my catchers,” says Schoenradt. “He’s got a great understanding of that position.
“(Flores) works with the boys on hitting. When he’s out there you know his passion is there.
“I tell everyone (Sanchez) is my mechanics guy. When it comes to mechanics and fundamentals, he the man.”
The Tigers’ diamond in Wanatah, Ind., features stone work on the dugout and backstop. The field is maintained by Aaron Rust.
“There’s no 1A school with a field like that around here,” says Schoenradt. “So shout out to Aaron Rust and his family, (former LaCrosse head coach) Eric Snyder, Tri-Township High School, the booster club and everyone else who put in the work to make that field what it is.”
Schoenradt is a 2010 graduate of Lewis Cass Junior-Senior High School in Walton, Ind. He played baseball until his early teens then pursued Freestyle BMX.
“My love for baseball never died though and being able to get into coaching really brought back my passion for it and stepping on a field still gave me the best feeling,” says Schoenradt, who coached youth baseball in Knox, Ind., and started the Knox Outkast travel program that earned Baseball Players Association Team of the Year honors in 2019.
Who feeds the Tigers?
“I think all things can be a feeder system,” says Schoenradt. “It all just depends on the coaching.
“Right now for us Aaron Rust is doing a great job building up this program for years to come. I watched Brian McMahan’s T-ball practice the other day and I was shocked. I’ve never seen kids that young dropping their hips and going to catch a pop-up.
“So really it all just depends who your kids are being taught by and if they have coaches who are taking the intuitive to teach them the right way.”
Schoenradt does not have any current college commitments but points to senior Carter Burkholder and juniors Blain Rust and Noah Kneifiel as players to watch.
Away from coaching, Schoenradt is employed by Newmar Corporation and engaged to Clarissa. Between them they have two daughters — Gemma (7) and Emmalyn (4).