BY STEVE KRAH
Troy Drosche has been coaching baseball for 17 seasons at Avon (Ind.) High School — the last 11 as head coach.
The Orioles are one victory away from competing in the IHSAA State Finals for the first time. Avon (20-13-1) plays Columbus East (24-4) Saturday, June 8 in the Class 4A south semistate game, which follows the 1 p.m. 3A game (Silver Creek vs. Edgewood) at Mooresville High School.
Drosche and his O’s have gotten to this point by getting his players to “be coachable.”
“We do our best as coaches to create an environment where players enjoy coming to the field everyday,” says Drosche. “It all starts from there — enjoy the GAME.”
Avon (enrollment around 3,200) is a member of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference (with Brownsburg, Fishers, Franklin Central, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville).
The Orioles are part of a sectional grouping with Brownsburg, Mooresville, Northview, Plainfield, Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo. With 2019’s titles, Avon has won five sectionals and two regionals (the previous one in 1994).
“We’ve got this thing rolling pretty good, winning three of last four sectionals,” says Drosche.
Avon reigned at the Terre Haute North Vigo Sectional and Decatur Central Regional.
“In the postseason, pitching and defense has carried us,” says Drosche. “We have done enough offensively and executed at the right times to score enough to survive and advance.
“We like to play situational baseball. Bunting/moving runners/setting ourselves up to get a big hit. We try to get the best matchups and execute our game plan.”
In the sectional semifinals against Northview with the game scoreless and two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Avon won in walk-off fashion by scoring a run from third base with a bunt single.
“Our players have bought into their roles and believe that the coaches are going to put them in the best position to win,” says Drosche. “This mindset didn’t come overnight though — it took a lot of time over the years.
“This group has a unique mix of grit and toughness. Honestly, they just come and play ball — trying not to make things too big or too small.”
Senior right-hander Austin Baugh (Kentucky Wesleyan College commit) and junior left-hander Kyren Power have been the Orioles’ go-to pitchers during the IHSAA tournament. They combined for a two-hit shutout in the sectional championship against Mooresville.
“We didn’t over-work them during the year, so they have been pretty fresh for the postseason and have been outstanding,” says Drosche.
Junior left-handed middle reliever Jake Hoffman and senior lefty closer Lucas Carrillo have shined out of the bullpen during the regular season and postseason. Hoffman has five wins in relief. Carrillo has three victories and seven saves. Both have earned run averages under 2.50.
Junior center fielder Cam Melvin has been Avon’s best hitter with four home runs, three triples, 14 doubles and an average that’s been around .400 most of the season. Baugh, junior second baseman Mason Miller, senior designated hitter Mark Gemmer and junior first baseman Tyce Ferrell have all hit around .300.
Sophomore third baseman Henry Hesson slugged two home runs and Power one during the regional. Senior right fielder Parker Sutton is committed to Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Ill.
Drosche, a 1992 graduate of Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Ky., and 1996 graduate of Marian College (now Marian University in Indianapolis), is assisted by Ryan East, Nick Spence, Tasker Strobel, Ryan McPike, Bob McPike and Matt Kinney.
East has been with Drosche for 10 years. Spence is the pitching coach. Strobel and Ryan McPike played for Drosche at Avon. Kinney runs the C-team. This year, Avon had 49 players on its varsity, junior varsity and C-teams.
Recent Avon graduates who played college baseball include Spencer Strobel at Purdue Fort Wayne, Noah Navarro at Ball State and Kahi’au Quartero at Marian.
Former Orioles pitchers Jared Miller and Chandler Sanburn competed in the minors in 2018.
Drosche calls Avon’s on-campus home field “one of the best in the state.”
“Matt Dudley is our field maintenance manager and he is flat-out the best in the state,” says Drosche. “And the field is getting better and better since his arrival two years ago.”
The Avon Baseball Club serves is a feeder system for the high school. It is up to 16 teams. The travel program is under the Avon Junior Athletic Association umbrella.
“The high school staff has been heavily involved with the program for a number of years now,” says Drosche.
The Indiana Bulls travel organization has had Drosche as a summer coach.
After coming to central Indiana from Kentucky, Drosche was a four-year starter at shortstop at Marian and helped the Knights win two conference championships. He was an All-American honorable mention and the team’s and conference’s MVP as a senior and was inducted into M-Club Wall of Fame in 2008.
Prior to Avon, he was an assistant at Marian and Ben Davis High School.
Drosche was an assistant at Avon for Clark Reeves for six years before taking over the program. He considers his father Glenn Drosche, Marian coaches Kurt Guldner and Bret Shambaugh, Reeves and fellow business teacher and former Reeves assistant Ralph Hartnagel as mentors.
“(Reeves) was one of the most knowledgeable baseball guys I’ve ever been around,” says Drosche. “He definitely had a certain way of coaching. He held kids to a high standard and expected nothing less from them.
“(Guldner) was a great leader that allowed his teams to play. Sometimes less is more. He allowed us to be baseball players and enjoy the game. That’s something we’re definitely doing this year (at Avon).
“(Hartnagel) is extremely knowledgable. He has great innovative ideas about drills and practices.”
Drosche, who holds a masters degree from the University of Indianapolis, teaches Careers and is a DECA advisor at AHS. He and Hartnagel run the O-Zone school store.
Troy and Jenn Drosche have three children — Olivia (11), Trevor (9) and Kendra (7). All three play travel basketball. Olivia also plays travel softball, Trevor travel baseball and Kendra travel soccer.
Saturday, June 8
Rossville (25-7) vs. Washington Township (22-6), 1 p.m. ET/noon CT
Hamilton Southeastern (21-8) vs. Mishawaka (25-6), following
At Kokomo (Municipal Stadium)
Yorktown (18-14) vs. Andrean (34-1), 1 p.m. ET/noon CT
Alexandria Monroe (27-6) vs. Whiting (15-11), following
Silver Creek (23-6) vs. Edgewood (23-3), 1 p.m. ET/noon CT
Columbus East (24-4) vs. Avon (20-13-1), following
At Jasper (Ruxer Field)
Tecumseh (21-7) vs. University (20-10-1), 1 p.m. ET/noon CT
Southridge (16-8) vs. South Vermillion (24-5), following
The Drosche family (clockwise from upper right) — Troy, Trevor, Kendra, Olivia and Jenn — celebrate a regional baseball championship for Avon (Ind.) High School. Troy Drosche is in his 11th season as head baseball coach for the Orioles. Avon plays Silver Creek in the IHSAA Class 4A Mooresville Semistate on Saturday, June 8.