By STEVE KRAH
Tre’ Watson played for one state championship baseball team at Our Lady of Providence High School in Clarksville, Ind., and was an assistant coach for another.
Now he’s the interim head coach for the Pioneers. His promotion was announced in late October 2022.
Watson, who turned 25 in September, helped guide players through the fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period and is doing so again this winter. There has been individual skills work, including hitting and defense.
“We’re pushing baserunning,” says Watson. “That’s going to be pretty big for us.
“We have a lot of speed and a lot of smart baserunners.”
The idea is to force the opposing defense into mistakes and capitalize on them.
“That was not our M.O. when I was playing,” says Watson, noting that Providence went 27-3 his final prep season with all three losses being by one run. “We had really good pitching and offensively were good at situational hitting.”
Watson was a key member of the 2016 IHSAA Class 2A state championship squad as a senior. He drew two walks and made two putouts while playing first base and third base in the state championship game and was presented with the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award.
After an injury-plagued stint at Vincennes (Ind.) University, Watson (who has had four knee operations and one hip surgery) moved closer to home, enrolled at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany and joined Scott Hornung’s Providence baseball staff for the 2018 season.
Watson worked toward the Business Administration degree he earned in 2021.
Longtime assistant Scott Hutchins took over the Providence program after the 2019 season. The Pioneers won another 2A state crown in 2021.
Eli Watson — younger brother of Tre’ — was a senior in 2021 and also was named to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series. Eli is now a redshirt freshman outfielder at Western Kentucky University.
Providence (enrollment around 350) went 18-11 in 2022 and is an athletic independent.
The Pioneers are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2023 with Clarksville, Crawford County, Eastern (Pekin) and Paoli. Providence has won 20 sectional titles — the last two in 2021 and 2022.
Home games are contested on Pioneer Field with its turf infield and Bermuda grass outfield. The synthetic surface makes rainouts a rarity.
Among the eight seniors on the 2023 team are three college commits — middle infielder Grant Borden (Mercer University), right-handed pitcher/third baseman Cody Jackson (Anderson University) and right-hander Grant Seebold (Oakland City University). Sophomore outfielder Cole Huett, who swings and throws lefty, is verbally committed to the University of Virginia. Grant Borden is the brother of Houston Astros minor leaguer Tim Borden II.
Other impact players include seniors Nathan Julius (outfielder), Casey Kaelin (middle infielder) and Brantley Whitlock (first baseman/third baseman) and juniors Jack Beyl (outfielder/right-hander), Luke Kruer (outfielder/right-hander) and Brian Wall (second baseman).
Watson, who expects to have 25 or 26 players for varsity and junior varsity squads, counts Jay Lorenz, Jared Clemons, Brian Jackson, Scott Hornung and Reece Davis among his assistant coaches.
Lorenz squeezed home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning in the 2016 state title game.
Hornung is Watson’s father-in-law. Tre’ married Jacquie Hornung (Providence Class of 2016 and a former volleyball player at Bellarmine University in Louisville) in 2021. The couple resides in New Albany.
Tre’ Watson was born in Louisville to Charles II (aka Chuck) and Denna Watson and was raised in Jeffersonville, Ind. He was part of successful all-star teams at Jeff/GRC Little League.
Outside of coaching, Watson is business manager of St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in New Albany.