By STEVE KRAH
A pair of brothers are pitching for their respective colleges during the 2023 postseason and doing it well.
Senior right-hander Jackson Young is at Franklin (Ind.) College in the NCAA D-III Birmingham (Ala.) Regional. He is slated to start the tournament opener on the hill for the Lance Marshall-coached Grizzlies (33-11) today (Friday, May 19).
Sophomore righty Drue Young is with Indiana Wesleyan University (Marion, Ind.) in the NAIA Opening Round in Kingsport, Tenn. He started Tuesday, May 16 for the Rich Benjamin-coached Wildcats (39-18-1) and helped them secure a spot in the final by earning the win against Bryan. He struck out five in six innings.
IWU, which received votes in the final NAIA national poll, beat No. 11 Missouri Baptist 7-6 Wednesday, May 17 and punched its ticket to the 2023 NAIA World Series May 26-June 2 in Lewiston, Idaho.
It will be the first World Series appearance for Indiana Wesleyan.
Jackson Young, who is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, has made 12 mound appearances this season (11 as a starter) and is 8-0 with two complete games, a 3.76 earned run average, 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 innings. Donning No. 3 in Navy Blue and Old Gold, he went the distance and whiffed eight May 12 in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament win against Transylvania.
The team won its fourth HCAC tournament title.
At 5-7 and 175, Drue Young is 6-2 with two complete games in 16 appearances (15 starts), a 3.84 ERA, 89 strikeouts and 22 walks in 91 1/3 innings.
For his FC career, Jackson Young has taken the bump in 38 games (21 starts) and is 17-2 with one save, a 4.15 ERA, 141 strikeouts and 46 walks in 167 innings. Also a third baseman, he amassed 58 at-bats in 2020 and 2021. He has been used exclusively as a pitcher in 2022 and 2023. He hit .368 as a Center Grove High School (Greenwood, Ind.) senior in 2019.
In two seasons at IWU, Drue Young has pitched in 39 contests (23 starts) with a 4.32 ERA, 144 strikeouts and 47 walks in 154 1/3 innings. He wears No. 20 for the Red and Gray.
First-team all-conference status was accorded to both Young brothers — Jackson in the HCAC and Drue in the Crossroads League.
Both Young brothers were born in Greenwood and graduated from Center Grove — Jackson (22) in 2019 and Drue (20) in 2021.
Trojans head coach Keith Hatfield has allowed the Youngs to use the Center Grove facilities to train in the off-season. They’ve also traveled up to Noblesville, Ind., to put in work at PRP Baseball.
While they have spent plenty of training time together, they’ve only played together one time. Drue subbed for a sick player and pitched for Jackson’s Indiana Astros travel team.
“Physically we’re different,” says Jackson. “But when it comes to the mental aspect of pitching we both have similar mindsets. We both love to train. We push each other.
“Even when we’re not physically together and at school. We’re calling each other and talking about how our pitching session went and things like that.”
Says Drue, “We’re super close. We pretty much do everything together.
“Both of our seasons are a testament to how hard we worked over the summer. We set the bar for ourselves regarding expectations. We exceeded our expectations.”
Marshall has been Franklin head coach since the fall of 1997 and won more than 600 games. The year’s squad has already reached the highest victory total during his tenure.
“Coach Marshall has kept us motivated this entire year,” says Jackson. “He’s always trying to keep our energy up and for guys to be active and involved in the games.
“He believes in us.”
Benjamin’s first season as Indiana Wesleyan head coach was 216 and 2023 will be his last. After the season he will become athletic director at Mississinewa High School in Gas City, Ind. He has amassed more than 500 career wins, including more than 150 at IWU.
The Wildcats beat Huntington to win the Crossroads League tournament and went into the Opening Round as the No. 4 seed.
“Nobody expected us to win,” says Drue. “We went there are played super loose. We played free. We didn’t have any pressure. It was awesome.
“(Coach Benjamin) encourages us a lot to play for each other and be selfless individuals on the field. He’s done a really good job of instilling the culture into the program.”
Jackson throws a four-seam fastball, slider and change-up from a high three-quarter arm slot.
The four-seamer which cuts with glove-side run (in to a left-handed batter and away from the right-hander) sits in the mid 80s and has topped out at 90 mph this season.
More of a “slurve” or “sweeper,” the slider has been clocked at 75 to 79. The split change-up drops and is normally 80 to 81 mph.
Drue delivers from a three-quarter slot with a four-seam fastball, curve, slider and change-up.
“The four-seamer runs and sinks a lot,” says Drue. “It’s been up to 92 this year. It’s usually sitting around 89 to 91.”
A “slurvy” 11-to-7 curve travels at 75 to 78 mph.
The slider has depth and late drop — sometimes going to the back foot of the lefty hitter — goes 80 to 84.
The norm for the change-up is 82 to 84.
Jackson, who is a Sociology major with a focus in Criminal Justice, has decided he is coming back to Franklin for his fifth year in 2024.
Drue is a double major at IWU — Marketing and Sports Management.
Jackson and Drue are the sons of Chris and Julie Young. Chris Young owns a flooring distribution business. Julie Young is the principal at Isom Elementary School in Greenwood.
With the brothers on different teams and schedules, it becomes a matter of coordination for their parents.
“We lucked out this year,” says Drue. “(Jackson) was mostly pitching on Sundays while I was pitching on Fridays. Most of the time they were able to be at both games.
“Last year it was more split. We were both throwing on the same day. It’s just a divide-and-conquer thing.”
Older sisters are Brianna in Tampa, Fla., and Emily in Noblesville.
Jackson played for many teams growing up culminating with the Indiana Astros. Those 17U and 18U travel teams were coached by former Franklin College players Jacob Burns and Tyler Ison.
Drue was at Center Grove Little League early. In high school, he played travel ball with Indiana Elite and at 17U, the Indiana Mustangs.
From sixth grade to sophomore year, Drue was also a wrestler.
“I attribute wrestling to my toughness,” says Drue. “It was something really good to get into, keeping versatility in my blood. Things happen where some sports get in the way of others. When you find the sport you love the most (baseball) you ride with it.”