Tag Archives: Indianapolis Crispus Attucks

New coach Cushenberry sees grit, determination at Lawrence Central

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Jaylon Cushenberry is now in charge of the baseball program at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis.
His hiring was finalized in November and he went about establishing the culture for the Bears.
“At LC we’ve padded our schedule. It’s a lot tougher than it’s ever been,” says Cushenberry, who won IHSAA Class 1A sectionals in both his seasons as head coach at Traders Point Christian in Whitestown, Ind. “We play teams like Zionsville, Western, Westfield, University and a couple of other teams.
“Our goal with our regular season is to play as many championship caliber teams as we can and see how we stack up.
“When you think of LC Baseball from here on out you’re going to see blue collar workers who won’t quit. We have a lot of grit and determination. “They’ve all bought into the plan — play very, very hard for seven-plus innings.”
Lawrence Central (enrollment around 2,365) is a member of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (with Ben Davis, Indianapolis North Central, Lawrence North, Pike and Warren Central).
MIC teams play home-and-home series on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Bears are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2023 with Ben Davis, Indianapolis Cathedral, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis North Central, Lawrence North and Pike. Lawrence Central has won eight sectional titles — the last in 2004.
Cushenberry, a graduate of Avon (Ind.) High School and Marian University in Indianapolis, is a Special Education Paraprofessional at Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School, where he is also defensive line coach for the football team.
Because of the timing of his hiring he was not there to guide IHSAA Limited Contact Period sessions in the fall, but Cushenberry has regularly had 35 to 40 as winter activities and expects 10 to 15 more when winter sports are complete.
The focus so far has been on getting to know one another while also teaching the game.
“We want to build a great relationship with our players,” says Cushenberry. “We’re trying to get our guys to buy into who we are.
“We want to build that mindset to be aggressive and not be passive and look for the easy way out.”
A year ago, the Bears fielded varsity and junior varsity teams. Cushenberry says if there are enough quality players LC may have three teams this spring.
Three of Cushenberry’s 2023 assistants — Conner Madding, Nolan Nihiser and Ernie Mudis — were on his Traders Point staff.
At Lawrence Central, Madding is the pitching coach, Nihiser the outfield coordinator and Mudis a varsity assistant.
In addition, there varsity assistant Jack Johnson, varsity assistant/junior varsity head coach Davon Hardy, JV assistant C.J. Wilson and infield coordinator Uriak Marquez. The Venezuelan played several years in professional baseball, including two in the Chicago Cubs system.
Cushenberry is hitting and baserunning coordinator. He will be helped on the hitting side by Nihiser and Marquez.
“Traders Point taught me how to coach,” says Cushenberry. “It taught me patience and understanding how to work with kids of lesser talent and also how to develop players at a high level.
“It also taught me how to be humbled. With every high there’s a low. Our kids found that out very quickly. You win back-to-back sectionals and are a couple or runs or mistakes from being in the regional championship.
“Baseball is a humbling game and teaches you so many life lessons.”
The Bears play on-campus on Community Health Field. Plans call for a new all-turf field with lights next to the current one in 2024.
Like Lawrence Central, Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township partner Lawrence Central is also due to get turf fields for baseball and softball, according to Cushenberry.
Rainouts — which take away game and practice time — are significantly lessened with turf and a major reason so many schools are going to it.
“Turf is a necessity item for us,” says Cushenberry.
The Lawrence Central program is fed by Belzer and Fall Creek Valley middle schools and Fall Creek Softball & Baseball.
Among Lawrence Central graduates in college baseball there’s Class of 2019’s Zach Lane (Ball State University) and Class of 2022’s Charlie Hawk (Purdue Fort Wayne).
Class of 2024’s Ahmaad Duff is committed to the University of Alabama. Two others from that class — Nick Johnson and Bryson Luter — have been getting looks from collegiate baseball programs.
Cushenberry, who has coach with the Indiana Mustangs travel organization in the summer, was among the many Indiana high school coaches attending the 2023 American Baseball Coaches Convention in Nashville.
“It was so much fun and we learned so much,” says Cushenberry.

Jaylen Cushenberry. (Lawrence Central High School Photo)
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McClain takes opportunity at Indianapolis North Central

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

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.

Andy McClain.

Greenlee establishing baseball culture at Liberty Christian

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Tab Greenlee is trying to change the way baseball is perceived at Liberty Christian School in Anderson, Ind.
“It’s all about culture change and getting them excited,” says Greenlee, who was hired before the 2020 season taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic, finished the 2021 campaign with 14 players and is preparing now for 2022. “I have 100 percent buy-in from the parents and it’s amazing.”
How much buy-in? A recent field day brought out 50 people.
“It was the coolest thing to watch,” says Greenlee.
Baseball began at the school in 2006 and the Lions have yet to post a record over .500 or win a sectional title.
“There’s been no consistency in coaches throughout the years,” says Greenlee, who spent 2021 setting the tone for the Lions, presenting a detailed practice plan while insisting the players also achieve in the classroom.
“You get an F, you don’t play,” says Greenlee, who had to let five go last spring because of grades. “If you can’t be excellent in the classroom, I can’t trust you to be excellent on my field.”
Greenlee, who teaches high school biology and middle school math, gets players the help they need to excel in academics.
While four Lions graduated last spring, Greenlee is seeing progress.
“We will be a lot stronger this next spring,” says Greenlee. “We have a foundation on how we play this game. We’re understanding the why.”
An IHSAA Limited Contact Period goes from Aug. 30-Oct. 16.
Off-season workouts were drawing up to 13 and that’s with soccer and cross country going on this fall at Liberty Christian (enrollment around 130).
The Lions are part of the Pioneer Conference (with Anderson Preparatory Academy, Bethesda Christian, Central Christian Academy, Greenwood Christian, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis Shortridge, International, Muncie Burris, Park Tudor, Seton Catholic and University).
In 2021, host Liberty Christian was part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Anderson Prep, Cowan, Daleville, Southern Wells, Tri-Central and Wes-Del.
Greenlee, who is assisted by Jamie Woodyard, has two seniors who have been drawing interest from college baseball teams — Beckham Chappell and Tyler Houk. Both are three-sport athletes — soccer, basketball and baseball.
“We encourage that,” says Greenlee. “Scouts want to know grades and they want to know if they play other sports. College sports in year-round.”
At a school the size of Liberty Christian, multi-sport participation and cooperation is vital.
“We are at each others’ games,” says Greenlee. “We’re there to support each other.”
Besides boys soccer, boys and girls cross country and volleyball in the fall, LC has boys and girls basketball, boys and girls swimming and boys and girls archery in the winter and boys and girls track track and softball in addition to baseball in the spring.
Liberty Christian plays its home games on a field rented from the city that’s adjacent to the Columbus Avenue campus where grades 7-12 meet. Preschool through Grade 6 meet in a building on Hillcrest Drive.
To help feed the high school, Greenlee established a junior high baseball program at Liberty Christian last spring with 13 players – many of whom had never played the game. The plan is to add fifth and sixth graders this spring and third and fourth graders in the future.
Greenlee, a 1985 Crawfordsville (Ind.) High School graduate who played baseball for Mike Klauka at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Mich., was at Toledo (Ohio) Christian prior to coming back to Indiana to be closer to family and to be a pastor at Tri-County Christian Church in Middletown.
In seven years at Toledo Christian, he was head baseball coach for five and football offensive coordinator for four. When he took over in baseball he was the fourth head coach for the seniors. That team went 21-7 and won sectional and district titles. The next year, the Eagles won 24 games and also took sectional and district championships.
Tab and wife Heather have three children — Taylor (26), Zach (22) and Calyb (12).
Taylor and husband Christian Beck have a daughter, Harper Grace. Calyb is a Liberty Christian sixth grader who plays soccer, basketball and baseball.

The Greenlee family (from left): First row – Calyb Greenlee, Heather Greenlee and Taylor Beck; Second row — Tab Greenlee, Zach Greenlee, Zach’s girlfriend Lauren Reid and Christian Beck. The Becks also have a daughter, Harper Grace.