Tag Archives: Jim Haaff

Making ‘quality young men’ priority for Woolems at Northeast Dubois

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Luke Woolems has coached at multiple Indiana high schools and in youth baseball.
His goal is always the same.
“We try to win a lot of baseball games, but ultimately it comes down to what kind of men we’re turning out,” says Woolems, who has been head coach at Northeast Dubois Junior/Senior High School in Dubois, Ind., since the 2018 season. “We’re trying to make quality young men. We want them to become better fathers, husbands and members of the community.”
Woolems is a 1999 graduate of Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, Ind., where he played baseball for Brian Kirchoff and was later a student teacher and assistant coach for one season. He was Kirchoff’s assistant at Northeast Dubois in 2017 before taking over the Jeeps program.
Prior to that Woolems was head baseball coach at Loogootee (Ind.) High School for two seasons and head softball coach at Mitchell (Ind.) High School for five. Before his stint at Heritage Hills, he was head baseball coach at Paoli (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School right after graduating from Indiana University-Bloomington.
Woolems was a teacher for 12 years and is now human resources manager at Patoka Lake Regional Water & Sewer District in Dubois County.
Northeast Dubois (enrollment around 275) is a member of the Blue Chip Conference (with baseball-playing schools Barr-Reeve, Loogootee, North Knox, Shoals, South Knox, Vincennes Rivet and Wood Memorial).
BCC teams played each other one time.
The Jeeps are to be part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023. Northeast Dubois has won 10 sectional titles — the last in 2017.
Tecumseh was the 2022 Class 1A state runner-up. The Braves beat Northeast Dubois 9-8 in the first round of the Cannelton Sectional.
“We’ve had some battles the last few years,” says Woolems of the Jeeps and Tecumseh.
The 2022 season saw Northeast Dubois go 10-11. There were 21 players in the program, including several seniors. One of those — Colby Pieper — moved on to Brescia University (Owensboro, Ky.).
Reece Bauer (Class of 2020) is at Wabash (Ind.) College.
One of the top returnees is Class of 2023’s Ty Kalb. A lead-off hitter, catcher, shortstop and pitcher, he paced the 2022 team in batting average (.403), doubles (11), runs scored (21), pitching victories (3) and earned run average (0.97) while tying for lead in runs batted in (17).
Like Woolems did as a high schooler, Kalb plays for Rockport American Legion Post 254 and manager Jim Haaff.
Woolems expects to gain five freshmen at Northeast Dubois in 2023.
His varsity assistant is Ian Denu, a U.S. Marines veteran who has helped Woolems coach at the youth level. Harold Bleemal is head junior varsity coach and Andrew Matheis is his assistant.
The fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period saw five or six players participate in twice-a-week activities with many others in fall sports.
“We try to make the most of it and get them as many defensive and offensive reps as possible,” says Woolems of the players that did practice. “It was very individual-based.”
Pitchers tossed bullpens and were throwing live to hitters by the end of the period.
Northeast Dubois plays on-campus on the field known as “The Hill.”
“It’s very nice and something the community is very proud of,” says Woolems. “The kids take very good care of it.”
Junior high baseball is popular in the area around Northeast Dubois.
The Jeeps field a team of seventh and eighth graders (and sometimes sixth graders). The spring schedule parallels the varsity season.
“It’s been a focus on mine,” says Woolems. “Junior high baseball is so important. It’s critical for our program.”
Players get to wear nice uniforms and get what they need to succeed.
“We want to make sure those kids are having a positive experience,” says Woolems. “We want to make them able to compete.”
The coach also serves on the board of Northeast Dubois Little League (which changed from Little League to United States Speciality Sports Association affiliation after the 2022 season) which has teams from T-ball through age 12. Eighty players participated in the fall league.
Luke and Emily Woolems have two children — son Tucker (11) and daughter Brynley (8). Tucker is a batboy for the Jeeps.

Northeast Dubois Junior/Senior High School head baseball coach Luke Woolems (21) greets Jasper’s Terry Gobert (23) and umpires at home plate.
Head coach Luke Woolems and the 2022 Northeast Dubois Jeeps baseball with the new scoreboard.
The Northeast Dubois Junior/Senior High School baseball team plays on “The Hill” in Dubois, Ind.
Colton Pieper (Northeast Dubois Class of 2022).
Reece Bauer (Northeast Dubois Class of 2020)
Ty Kalb (Northeast Dubois Class of 2023)

Indiana American Legion Senior State Finals July 22-26 in Rockport

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Rockport Post 254 will host the 2022 rendition of the Indiana American Legion Senior Baseball State Finals.
The eight-team event is slated for Friday through Tuesday, July 22-26 at Jim Haaff Field in Rockport.
The champion will advance to Great Lakes Regional (Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) Aug. 3-7 in Midland, Mich. The American Legion World Series is slated for Aug. 11-16 in Shelby, N.C.
Post 254 won the 2021 title in Kokomo. It was Rockport’s 11th state crown. Region 7 host Rockport is managed by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Haaff. His assistants are Josh Garrett, Bill Hesson, Jason Scamahorn and Jesse Smith. The general manager is Darrell Stephens.
Jasper is Region 7 champion. Terry Gobert is the Post 147 manager/GM. He is assisted by Brian Kirchoff.
Newburgh is Region 6 champion. Joe Paulin is the Post 44 manager/GM. He is assisted by Matt Brunton, Ryan Shelton, Mike Sharp, Chris Pillow and Dr. David Schultz.
Terre Haute is Region 5 champion. David Will is Post 346 manager/GM. His assistants are Jayson Cottrell and Travis Mason.
Muncie is Region 4 champion. Ken Zvokel is Post 19 manager/GM.
Kokomo is Region 3 champion. Don Andrews is Post 6 manager/GM. His assistants are Jason Turlock, Nathan Kirk, Tristan Kivett and Eric Mills.
South Bend is Region 2 champion. Tony Cruz is coach/GM. His assistant at Nevaeh Ortiz-Cruz and Ben Monges.
South Haven is Region 1 runner-up. Bobby Wineland is manager and John Tabor assistant manager. Assistants are Jose Guevara, John Jenkins and Preston Tabor.
Owen Wells is the Indiana state commander for baseball.
Here are the double-elimination tournament brackets (all times are Central) and rosters:

INDIANA AMERICAN LEGION
SENIOR STATE FINALS
At Rockport
Friday, July 22
Game 1: Newburgh Post 44 (12-10) vs. Jasper Post 147 (12-2-1), 11 a.m.
Game 2: Muncie Post 19 (15-10) vs. Terre Haute Post 346 (21-6-1), 2 p.m.
Game 3: South Bend Post 151 (12-4) vs. Kokomo Post 6 (20-8-2), 4:30 p.m.
Game 4: South Haven Post 502 (12-12-1) vs. Rockport Post 254 (16-5), 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 23
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, 11 a.m.
Game 6: Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 2 p.m.
Game 7: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 24
Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 3:30 p.m.
Game 11: Game 7 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 6 p.m.
Monday, July 25
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 11 loser, 1 p.m.
Game 13: Game 10 winner vs. Game 11 winner, 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Jul 26
Game 14: Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 1 p.m. (championship).
Game 15: If necessary game, followed Game 14.

Rosters
Newburgh Post 44
0 Zach York
7 Brandon Juarez
8 Joe Pillow
11 Keaton Kern
12 Reece Harper
13 Connor Specht
15 Collin Scaggs
17 Hunter Lindsey
21 David Schultz
24 Carter Hood
26 Kolton Watson
27 Oliver Clark
29 Adam Watson
35 Brayden Gibson
55 Adam Sanabria
99 Kai Radke

Jasper Post 147
1 Max Werner
2 Thomas Habig
3 Ryan Leuck
4 Kody Morton
5 Ben Henke
6 Hunter Stork
7 Eli Hopf
8 Reece Egbert
9 Sam Helming
10 Andrew Noblitt
11 Drew Bradley
12 Mitchell Leinenbach
13 Braxton Brosmer
16 Chris Hedinger
19 Matthew Wright
20 Andrew Sternberg
25 Will Wallace
28 Griffith Hile

Muncie Post 19
2/2 Cooper Roach
3/21 Cade Brinson
4/12 Chase Smith
5/23 Isaac Jackson
6/6 Gavin Noble
7/33 Mac King
9/9 Austin Jones
10/10 Bryce Adams
12/5 Alex King
14/34 Will Anderson
15/18 Jerad Michael
21/38 Jacob Pruitt
22/4 Luke Willmann
23/8 Quinn Faulkner
33/11 Kess McBride
34/14 Crosby Heniser
55/24 Hayden Carrow

Terre Haute Post 346
1 Tyler Will
2 Bryson Carpenter
3 Ty Stultz
4 Noah Bray
5 Caden Mason
6 Coy Edwards
7 Tucker Helton
8 Logan Nicoson
9 Ross Olsen
10 Sam Glotzbach
11 Cade Moore
12 Pierson Barnes
15 Kylan Norman
19 Jackson McFarland
20 Derek Lebron

South Bend Post 151
2 Joseph Curylo
3 Anthony Burkowski
6 Samuel Mischak
8 Austin Love
10 Trace Gilbert
11 Dylan Hanley
14 Nathan Marshman
18 Michael Compton
19 Francesco Lizzi
21 Pike Temple
22 Julius Bagarus
23 Erick Marin
24 Kellen Demkovich
25 Henry Singer
27 Peyton Ring
32 Payton Jones
33 David Szajko
74 Christopher Gault

Kokomo Post 6
1 Jacob Ward
2 Jon Maloy
3 Cooper Hansen
4 Kaine Fowler
5 Cayden Calloway
6 Will McKinzie
9 Jake Seuferer
10 Levi Mavrick
11 Ashton Sexton
12 Avery Fields
15 Conner Boone
16 Troy Smith
18 Larry Hamilton
33 John Scottg
34 Brandon Smitley
35 Preston Sanford
36 Gavin Smith
44 Owen Taylor

South Haven Post 502
1 Kyle Feterick
3 Jacob Jenkins
7 James Haltz
9 Adam Allis
13 Caleb Johnson
14 Kyle Janda
15 Mark Fausto
16 Ivan Balboa
19 Jacob Gonzalez
20 Dylan Stuphan
22 Caleb Short
27 Evan Szabo
29 Nathan Lambert
31 Ryan Graziano
34 Aidan McCormick
35 Payton Fausto
52 Noah Scott
54 Kaden Sroka

Rockport Post 254
10 Garrett Scamahorn
11 Jalen Johnson
12 Jake Stuteville
14 Noah Brunner
15 Diond’re Jacob
16 Ty Brown
18 Houston Compton
19 Ty Kalb
20 Trey Mattingly
21 Holton Compton
24 Ashton Tindle
27 Jackson Raaf
31 Evan Bowling
32 Ryan Ogle
33 Wes Scamahorn

Benningfield has Tell City Marksmen baseball on target for improvement

RBILOGOSMALL copy

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Participation numbers have been on the rise and so has the enthusiasm for baseball at Tell City (Ind.) Junior-Senior High School.

The Marksmen had 20 players in the program in 2017, which was Trent Benningfield’s first season as head coach. There were 24 participants in 2018 and 32 have signed up for tryouts for 2019.

Tell City, which is located near the Ohio River in Perry County, has scheduled 22 varsity games and about 15 junior varsity contests this spring.

“I feel like things are going in the right direction,” says Benningfield, a 2011 Tell City graduate and fourth grade teacher at William Tell Elementary. “The boys are putting in a lot more work. They’re seeing what it takes to get to the next level.”

Benningfield lists his goals for the program as developing young men, getting them ready for college or the work force and another thing.

“I’m trying to win as many games as possible every single year,” says Benningfield.

The head coach lives three blocks from Frank Clemens Field, the city-owned diamond where the Marksmen play their home games. There is a hitting building at the facility and the coach has been known to get texts from his players to meet him there for extra swings.

Official practice begins March 11 and the first contest is slated for March 26. Spring break begins March 15 and Benningfield welcomes the opportunity to have some longer workouts.

Since the IHSAA requires 10 practices to participate, Benningfield expects to have his players at those practices.

“If they want to play in first two or three games, they can’t afford to go anywhere,” says Benningfield, who is getting help preparing his players from assistants and TC grads Trent Gunn and Seth Ward.

Gunn, who played for the University of Southern Indiana’s NCAA Division II national championship team in 2014, is in charge of hitting and infield play. Ward also helps with the JV. Benningfield says he is hoping to add one more coach to his staff.

Tell City (enrollment around 430) is a member of the Pocket Athletic Conference (with Forest Park, Gibson Southern, Heritage Hills, North Posey, Pike Central, South Spencer, Southridge and Tecumseh).

The Marksmen are in an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Evansville Mater Dei, Forest Park, North Posey, Perry Central and South Spencer.

“It’s one of the toughest 2A sectionals if not the toughest in Indiana,” says Benningfield. “It seems like every year whoever wins our sectional is going to the state championship.

“It’s like a dogfight to win that thing every single year.”

Southridge was 2A state runners-up in 2018. South Spencer was 2A state champions in 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015. Mater Dei was 2A state runners-up in 2012 and 2014. North Posey was state champions in 2005 and 2006.

Tell City’s most-recent sectional crown came in 1997 – the last season of single-class sports.

Benningfield played at Oakland City (Ind.) University for Mighty Oaks head coach T-Ray Fletcher and counted two future high school head coaches as teammates — Eric Barnes (Boonville), Isaac Bowles (Crawford County) and Cody Johnson (North Harrison).

His first two seasons at OCU, Benningfield was a relief pitcher. That meant he got to spend time in the dugout with Fletcher has he made strategic moves.

“That’s what helped me the most,” says Benningfield. “I learned what other teams were thinking.”

Benningfield played four summers for Rockport American Legion Post 254 and manager Jim Haaff, an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer.

“He ran a very disciplined team,” says Benningfield of Haaff. “He treated every single person the same. Everybody was supposed to do their job. We came together as a team because of that. I’m hoping to do that with my (Tell City) team as well.”

Recent TC graduate Preston Hendershot is on the baseball team at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky.

Shane Weedman, who was a 2011 classmate of Benningfield at Tell City and an assistant coach in 2018, played at Vincennes University and Indiana University Southeast and pitched a no-hitter for the independent Evansville Otters in 2017.

Rick Wilgus, who was Benningfield’s Babe Ruth League coach, runs Tell City’s Cub baseball program. It’s a club that includes sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

“It’s for any kids too old to play (Tell City) Little League and too young for high school,” says Benningfield of a squad that plays many schools in the PAC in the spring and has home games and practices at the former Babe Ruth park — Hughes Owen Field.

Trent and Josalyn Benningfield were married in June 2018. She is  Tell City graduate and fifth grade teacher at William Tell. The former Josalyn Ress was on a sectional softball championship team in 2009 and pitched for four years at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

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JOSALYNTRENTBENNINGFIELD

Josalyn and Trent Benningfield enjoy a Cincinnati Reds game. Both are teachers at William Tell Elementary in Tell City, Ind. Trent is the head baseball coach at Tell City Junior-Senior High School.

Kuester adding to rich baseball tradition at South Spencer

RBILOGOSMALL copy

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Down on the Ohio River sits the town of Rockport, Ind.

They love their baseball there.

South Spencer High School and Rockport American Legion Post 254 have been making them proud for years.

The South Spencer Rebels have won four IHSAA state titles in five State Finals appearances and won sectional crowns in 2015, 2016 and 2017, pushing the program’s total to 23.

South Spencer holds outright or share several 2A State Finals team records, including most hit (16 vs. Heritage in 2007), most runs batted in (12 in 2007) and most at-bats (38 in 2007). Todd Marn drove in a record five runs in 2007.

Rockport Post 254 has piled up all kinds of hardware at the state level and the 2016 team played in the American Legion Baseball World Series in Shelby, N.C.

Brian Kuester, who is also a social studies teacher, is entering his 22nd season as head baseball coach at South Spencer. He and his assistants also guide Post 254’s 17U Junior Legion team in the summer.

Kuester is just the third South Spencer head coach in more than 50 years. He took over for Jim Haaff (who is still the manager of Rockport’s Senior Legion squad). Haaff followed Bill Evans.

All three men are enshrined in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

“I take a lot of pride in following two guys like that,” says Kuester, who took the Rebels to Class 2A state championships in 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Among active coaches with state championships, Tim Bordenet (Lafayette Central Catholic) ranks first with seven, followed by Terry Gobert (Jasper) and Dave Pishkur (Andrean) with five each and Kuester and Greg Dikos (Penn) with four apiece.

South Spencer was in the State Finals in the IHSAA’s third state tournament in 1969. “You’re expected to have a good program. Some years are going to be better than others. Like at any small school (South Spencer has around 400 students), it’s going to be that way.

“We know we have a target on our backs almost every time we go out there to play, which is a great thing. It’s better being on that end than on the other end. We see a lot of people’s 1’s and 2’s. That only makes us better.

“The kids expect it, know it and kind of relish that.”

Seven starters from the 2017 South Spencer Sectional champions graduated and Kuester expects maybe three or four seniors in 2018. This just means other players will now get their chance to shine.

“We’re a very small school and we have a lot of blue-collar type kids,” says Kuester. “We don’t get the big Division I players very often. But we’ve had a share of nice talent.”

After leaving South Spencer, left-hander Blake Monar pitched three seasons at Indiana University and was selected in the 12th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Washington Nationals. He played two seasons in the Nationals systems and then with the independent Evansville Otters.

Right-hander Josh Garrett was a first-round pick in 1996 by the Boston Red Sox and pitched six professional seasons.

Kevin Davis, also a right-hander, pitched four season at Middle Tennessee State University and was a 55th round selection of the California Angels in 1996, but no record could be found of him playing in the minors.

Recent IHSCA North/South All-Star Series players have been Nathan Hall (2011), Jared Lauer (2012), Nathan Kuester (2014), Jon Stallings (2015) and Sammy Rowan (2017).

Brice Stuteville (Frontier Community College in Illinois) is among recent graduates playing college baseball.

South Spencer baseball is built on concepts like hard work, dedication and being disciplined in behavior and performance.

Multi-sport participation is the rule rather than the exception.

“We like them to be involved in other sports and have that competitiveness in them and we want them putting priorities straight,” says Kuester. “Baseball is obviously not more important than other things in life. But when we’re on the field, it’s got to be the most important thing.

“We try to instill dedication.”

Brian Kuester, the son of former professional player, manager and scout Ivan Kuester and younger brother of former Clemson University player Steve Kuester, is a 1976 Evansville Central High School graduate. For the Bears, he played for Bud Steiler and Ted Niemeier.

Brian calls his father and brother his biggest influences in baseball.

“My brother told me that as a catcher, you’re the only one who can see everybody else on the field,” says Kuester. “You have to be the leader. You have to know every position and what they need to be doing in every situation. You have to be able to basically teach pitching as a catcher and be a psychologist, trying to get the most out of your pitcher.

“Being a catcher definitely has a major impact in being a head coach.”

Like his brother, Brian was a catcher and went on to play at Indiana State University-Evansville (now the University of Southern Indiana) from 1977-80. His coach was former minor league pitcher Larry Shown.

Kuester was a graduate assistant at Southeastern Louisiana University and served as coach for Boonville and Evansville Pate American Legion and Oakland City University teams and five seasons at Tecumseh High School. He was associate head coach at Southern Indiana and an assistant for one season of Haaff’s South Spencer staff.

The 2018 Rebels coaching staff features Shawn Kuester, Mike Ogilvie and Mitch Rust at the varsity level and Chris Bartlett leading the junior varsity.

South Spencer is a member of the Pocket Athletic Conference (along with Forest Park, Gibson Southern, Heritage Hills, North Posey, Pike Central, Southridge, Tecumseh and Tell City).

Games are not played in a set pattern.

“Some weeks we might have two or three conference games,” says Kuester. “Some weeks we have no conference games.

“Our schedule is very, very tough. But that’s the way we want it.”

Non-conference dates in Indiana include Boonville, Castle, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Memorial, Evansville North, Evansville Reitz, Floyd Central, Jasper, Martinsvillle, Perry Central, Washington plus the Jasper Invitational.

Kentucky include Apollo, Daviess County, Hancock County and Henderson County and Owensboro Catholic.

Brian and Debbie Kuester have four children — Jeremy, Shawn, Nathan and Katie. All the boys played at South Spencer for their father. In college, Jeremy Kuester played two seasons at the University of Evansville and two at Kentucky Wesleyan College and is now University of Southern Indiana pitching coach.

Shawn Kuester at Evansville and Nathan Kuester is a senior at Southern Indiana. Katie Kuester is a softball player at Olney (Ill.) Central College.

Ivan Kuester, Brian, Kuester, Jeremy Kuester, Bill Evans and Jim Haaff) are members of the Greater Evansville Baseball Hall of Fame — a group that inducted its first class in 2016.

In 2017, the IHSAA adopted a pitch count rule (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).

Kuester said it has had zero effect on his teams and he only had one pitcher — son Jeremy — ever go above 120 pitches in a game. The main reason is that his pitchers also play other positions.

“I’m not always going to save my best for conference,” says Kuester. “If he’s available, we’re going to do it. Last year, we only threw our No. 1 in a couple of conference games. That’s just how it fell.

“We want to win the conference, but that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is the (state) tournament.

The Rebels are all in it together.

“We stay away from he ‘me, me, me’ that our society seems to be in right now,” says Kuester. “We try to concentrate on what’s best for the team.

“Our players have bought into the concept. They learned if they play together, it will make you better as a team.”

BRIANKUESTER

Brian Kuester is entering his 22nd season as head baseball coach at South Spencer High School in Rockport, Ind., in 2018. (Steve Krah Photo)