By STEVE KRAH
Andy McClain has gotten a look at his prospects as the new head baseball coach at North Central High School in Indianapolis and he likes the Panthers chances to make noise on the diamond in 2023.
“It’s a big school and a good program,” says McClain, who comes to Washington Township after four years at Lawrence Central. “We’ve got hungry kids. We’re setting high standards. I’m excited about it.
“It’s a good opportunity.”
North Central (enrollment around 3,875) is a member of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (with Ben Davis, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, Pike and Warren Central).
MIC teams play home-and-home series on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Panthers are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2023 with Ben Davis, Indianapolis Cathedral, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North and Pike. North Central has won 11 sectional titles — the last in 2006.
“We play a competitive schedule,” says McClain. “The MIC and (Marion) County will help us make a run in the state tournament.”
The fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period saw 40 to 50 North Central players participate in each session, allowing for scrimmaging.
“It was different,” says McClain. “I’ve never had that. We were able to get a lot of things done. We feel like we’re in a good place from some of the things we were able to install in the fall.
“There will be a lot of competition for positions. If the goal is to get them to compete you’re going to have that in your practice environment. That’s only going to make them better.”
About the same number of athletes have begun weight room workouts and the next Limited Contact Period comes Dec. 5-Feb. 4. That’s where McClain will continue to emphasize energy, effort and execution.
McClain plans to field three teams — varsity, junior varsity and C-team. He said he could have as many as 15 seniors — 10 with varsity experience.
The Panthers went 14-9-1 in 2022. Jack Ferguson (Class of 2023) hit .412 and Micah Rienstra-Kiracofe (Class of 2024) .405. On the mound, Tristan Wilson (Class of 2025) won four games and Will Kaiser (Class of 2023) three.
Besides McClain, the Panthers varsity coaching staff features Andrew Dutkanych III, Scott King and Gabe Hoffman. Dutkanych is the pitching coach. King returns to the staff. Hoffman pitched at Pike.
Panther Park — North Central’s home field — recently was leveled and is scheduled to host sectional in the spring.
Feeding the Panthers are baseball programs as three at three middle schools — Eastwood, Northview and Westlane.
McClain, a 1987 graduate of Martinsville (Ind.) High School, where he played for and coached with Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bill Tutterow, has been a head coach at five other Indiana high schools — LaVille, Indianapolis Arlington, Brebeuf Jesuit, Norwell and Lawrence Central. Brebeuf was the 2012 Class 3A state runner-up and Norwell the 2013 3A state champion.
McClain is a longtime emcee at the IHSBCA State Clinic in January.
Since moving back to Indianapolis, McClain has coached travel ball in the summer for the Indiana Bulls. The 2023 season will be his fifth. He will lead the 15U Grey. John Zangrilli is an assistant and his son John Zangrilli (Carmel Class of 2026) his on the team.
McClain has coached Nevan Tutterow (Franklin Central Class of 2025, grandson of Bill and son of Bryant) on the Bulls.
The 2023-23 year marks McClain’s 33rd in education and a Science teacher at North Central.
“The Biology department along has 10 people in it,” says McClain of the enormity of North Central.
Daughter MacKenzie McClain lives in Victor, N.Y., and is scheduled to be married next summer.