By STEVE KRAH
That’s what the Gibson Southern High School baseball program has had since the Titans first took the diamond in the spring of 1975.
Only two men have led the program — Jim Reid and Chris May.
Reid, an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, coached the Fort Branch Twigs for one pre-consolidation season. After Fort Branch, Haubstadt and Owensville high schools combined to make Gibson Southern, he was head coach from Day 1 through 2007.
That’s when junior varsity coach and 1974 Haubstadt High School graduate May took over and he’s still on the job. A member of that last graduating class, he played second base for Elites coach Glover Priar then went on to Indiana State University-Evansville (now the University of Southern Indiana) where he was guided for one season by Jim Brown and three by Larry Shown.
Cousin Gary May, a Gibson Southern graduate, was a ISU-E teammate and is now the Titans head softball coach.
After college, Chris May taught one year in Evansville. In 1979-80, he began teaching third and fourth graders in the South Gibson School Corporation. He is now teaching third grade at Haubstadt Community School. He also has decades of experience coaching eighth grade basketball and Junior Titan Football in addition to the high school baseballers.
“It’s a nice change of pace,” says May. “I have the young kids during the day (and the older ones after school).”
Decades of coaching also has its perks.
“It’s neat to see kids coming through and I coached the parents years ago,” says May.
Gibson Southern has enjoyed its share of baseball success, winning outright or sharing nine Pocket Athletic Conference pennants with nine sectional titles, two regional crowns, two semistate championships and one state runner-up finish.
The Titans have reigned in three Evansville Bosse sectionals (2008, 2013, 2014), one Jasper Regional (2014) and one Plainfield Semistate (2014) and placed second in the state (2014 vs. Andrean) — all in IHSAA Class 3A — and also been co-PAC champions twice (2013, 2014) with May in charge.
The 1994 team was in the single-class Final Four. Penn beat the Titans 1-0 then McCutcheon 4-3 to claim its first state championship hardware.
Two Gibson Southern seniors — Brad Heuring in 1994 and Matthew Harpenau in 2014 — have been presented the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award at the IHSAA State Finals.
May likes to win as much as the next guy, but he bases his program on the enjoyment and respect for the game.
“We want the kids to come out and have a good time,” says May. “We teach them baseball the right way. We want them to respect the other team and respect the facilities.”
Countless hours have been spent tending Gibson Southern’s home field on its Fort Branch campus. Among the recent upgrades is the replacement of a windscreen on the outfield wall with privacy slats.
With an interest in hosting a sectional, May says adding more bleachers has been discussed. The 3A Titans were runners-up to Boonville in the 2017 Evansville Bosse Sectional and are assigned with Pike Central, Princeton and probable host Vincennes Lincoln in 2018.
The Pocket Athletic Conference provides a challenge with its competitive programs and its geography. The PAC’s nine schools are in eight different southwest Indiana counties — Gibson Southern in Gibson, Forest Park and Southridge in Dubois, Heritage Hills in Spencer, North Posey in Posey, Pike Central in Pike, South Spencer in Ohio, Tecumseh in Warrick and Tell City in Perry.
While North Posey and Tecumseh are less than 20 miles from Gibson Southern, the others at least least 30 and Tell City is nearly 70. When the Titans play the Marksmen, that game often comes on a Saturday.
“It’s a very good baseball conference,” says May of a circuit boasting seven state crowns (four for South Spencer, two for North Posey, one for Tecumseh) and three state runner-up finishes (two for Tecumseh and one for Gibson Southern).
Each PAC team plays the other once. Occasionally, there are three conference games in the same week, which makes for some decisions on whom to pitch and for how long.
The 2017 season saw the IHSAA adopt new pitch count rules (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days). May says he rarely ever lets a pitcher go over 100 tosses in a game. He did have to adjust to the required days of rest when the hurler delivered just over 35.
“You have to be careful,” says May. “That was more of a thing for me. For the most part, (the pitch count rule) seemed like it worked pretty well.”
While he says others might get involved, May expects Zach Pullum, Steve Lintzenich, Danny Colbert and son Dustin May to be part of his 2018 coaching staff.
Chris and Lynn May have two children. In addition to Dustin, there’s Stacey (she is a meteorologist on Channel 25 in Evansville) and there are five grandchildren.
Gibson Southern had two ties to Japanese baseball in 2017. Not only did exchange student Sora Kashiwagi suit up with the Titans, 2004 graduate Eric Campbell played in 21 games for the Hanshin Tigers.
Selected in the second round of the 2004 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Atlanta Braves, Campbell played in Double-A ball with the Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners organizations.
Chris May is the head baseball coach at Gibson Southern High School. He followed Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Reid. They are the only two men to guide the Titans program. (Gibson Southern Photo)