By STEVE KRAH
Calumet Christian School is unbeaten in its first 17 games of the 2022 high school baseball season.
The team made up of students from the tiny private school in Griffith, Ind., plus homeschoolers and online students could wind up playing 40 or more games — on either side of the Indiana-Illinois line – this spring.
“We continue to try to schedule as many public schools as possible to compete with,” says head coach Bill DeRuiter.
Not a member of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, the Patriots are not restricted to a maximum number of contests.
According to DeRuiter, there are less than 200 students in grades K-12 with between 30 and 40 in the upper four classes.
DeRuiter has been head boys basketball coach at Calumet Christian (formerly Calumet Baptist) the past two winters and took over the baseball program this season and has some expectations for his 12 varsity players (there is also a junior varsity squad of about 16).
“What’s really important for us is that you understand your role on the team,” says DeRuiter. “We can’t have 12 players that want to be the star.
“You strive to have a better role, more playing time, more responsibility. We talk about being all-in — do it for your team, for yourself as an individual and for your faith.”
Senior Jordan Landkrom is hitting a robust .604 (32-of-53) with three home runs, four triples, four doubles, 31 runs batted in and 31 runs scored.
Sophomore Carter Tymm sports a .469 average, 31 RBIs and 26 runs.
Sophomore Isaiah Palanca is batting .463 with 14 RBIs and 36 runs.
There’s also sophomores Jared McKinney (.429), Zack Murphy (.394) and Drew Ruf (.333), junior Kadyn Foutz (.385) and senior Riley Thomas (.333).
The combined earned run average of the pitching staff is 0.88 with 156 strikeouts in 95 innings. Thomas, Tymm and junior Ethan Duensing are all 4-0 on the mound while Murphy and Palanca are 2-0.
DeRuiter’s squad plays an attacking brand of offensive baseball.
“We want to challenge teams to have to make perfect throws and perfect plays,” says DeRuiter. “I’m willing to take chances and be aggressive. We want to take advantage of mistakes. It’s more fun that way.”
Of the squad’s 167 hits so far, 47 are for extra bases.
Playing in cold and windy conditions for many of their early games, the Patriots make the most of infield singles and bloopers.
Calumet Christian plays most of its games on the road. The Patriots’ “home” field is at Schererville Baseball Complex in Crown Point, Ind.
Led in scoring by Jordan Landkron, Calumet Christian’s boys basketball team went 22-10 and won a Christian school state championship in 2021-22, beating Heritage Christian (Dyer), Victory Christian (Valparaiso), Calvary Christian (Indianapolis) and Pleasant View Christian (Montgomery) in the playoff run. There is no equivalent postseason event for baseball.
“We try to do cool experiences,” says DeRuiter of a slate that includes contests at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Ind., Ozinga Field in Crestview, Ill., and Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet, Ill. Those facilities are home to the Gary SouthShore RailCats, Northwest Indiana Oilmen, Windy City Thunderbolts and Joliet Slammers.
DeRuiter’s coaching staff features Adam Lankrohn (father of shortstop Jordan), Joe Palanca (father of center fielder Isaiah) and Jeff Duensing (father of first baseman Ethan).
The husband of Calumet Christian athletic director Jen Landkrohn, Adam handles scheduling and other details for the team.
“He’s the person that makes everything go,” says DeRuiter, who also teaches seventh/eighth grade Social Studies at Crown Point Christian.
Before coaching at Calumet Christian, DeRuiter was head women’s basketball coach at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., for five years.
The 2005 graduate of Chicago Christian High School, where he played four seasons of football, basketball and baseball, earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Middle Grade Social Sciences from Trinity Christian and a master’s degree in Athletic Administration & Coaching from Concordia University Irvine.
DeRuiter calls his high school basketball coach, Ross Douma, his top coaching mentor.
“He’s been a great sounding board for me,” says DeRuiter of Douma. “He helped guide me through some tough choices as I was learning the business.”
Head junior varsity baseball coach at Chicago Christian was DeRuiter’s first coaching job. He has also served as head boys basketball coach at Evergreen Park (Ill.) Community High School.
Bill and Nichole DeRuiter have been married for 11 years and have three children — Trey (9), Charlotte (7) and Jameson (4).