They are honesty, selflessness, relentlessness, competitiveness and positivity.
“On the baseball side, we stress offense and being aggressive,” says Hardy. “We’ve got to score runs to win games.”
A 2012 graduate of Logansport (Ind.) High School where he won two letters each in football, wrestling and baseball, Hardy credits two former Berries head baseball coaches — Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jim Turner Sr. plus Jim Turner Jr. — as well as current Logansport bench boss Dan Frye, Craig Crozier and Jon Vernon for adding to his diamond knowledge.
“I’ve learned that the main thing is to be patient with players and even other coaches,” says Hardy. “And to study the game.”
Hardy has received plenty of pointers from Turner Sr., on how to run a practice.
Prior to taking over the Pioneer program, Hardy coached in the Logansport Lookouts travel organization.
In Hardy’s first season, Pioneer has 32 players for varsity and junior varsity squads.
Assistant coaches include Jacob Hardy (Josh’s younger brother), Cory Harmon, Darrell Couch and Miles VonTobel.
Jacob Hardy, who played baseball at Ancilla College in Donaldson, Ind., works with pitchers and catcher. He is a Logansport alum as are Harmon and Couch. VonTobel is a 2020 Pioneer graduate.
In 2014, former Logansport High School baseball players Young (Class of 1991) and Stephens (Class of 1993) joined forces to form an LLC.
Young is the bat maker. Stephens handles the business side of things.
The company grew and TItan moved to a 5,000-square foot building at 2135 Stoney Pike off U.S. 35 in March 2020.
The facility allows room for a semi-automatic copy lathe as well as new ultra-accurate MotionCat CNC machine and other necessary equipment.
“It allows us to keep up with the demand,” says Stephens. “The cupping machine allows us to take (up to) 6/10 of an ounce off a bat.”
There’s a place still tool bats by hand.
“On a good day, that’s a four-hour process,” says Young.
There’s an area for dipping bats in lacquer, painting them and applying logos.
The end of one room is devoted to the storing and caring of precious cargo.
It’s the wood that sets Titan apart. The company only uses Prime billets of ash, maple and cedar with 7- to 10-percent moisture content to turn a bat. In the wood industry, there’s Choice, Select and Prime and they all come with different price points.
“The billets are the best you can get on the market,” says Stephens, who lettered at Indiana State University in 1996 and 1997. “We could certainly buy cheaper.”
But Titan is making boutique hand-crafted baseball bats.
“We’re focused on quality,” says Stephens. “When makes us unique is that you can’t just buy wood from anywhere. We use wood that’s wedge-split that’s true to the slope of the grain.
“The wood can be too dry or too wet, which means it’s green inside and heavy. You have to have a specific bullet for a specific model.”
Titan is currently producing up to 30 models.
“We have a lot of repeat customers,” says Young. “We stick with Prime (wood) even for youth.”
Those loyal customers come back for the sound of a ball struck by a Titan.
“It stands out,” says Young.
There’s a reason the product carries that name.
Before thinking about going into business, former Logansport Church of Christ preacher Young was having a discussion with wife Tracey.
They came across the definition of Titan, which is a standout, powerful person.
“To me, that means the Lord,” says Young’
There’s sign in the shop letting visitors know that Titan is a “Kingdom Business” and cites Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Giving it everything he had each time he stepped on the diamond.
That’s what Dan Frye did as a player and that’s what he does as a coach.
Frye was a baseball assistant at his alma mater — Logansport (Ind.) High School. After being away for five seasons, he is now head coach for the Berries.
The 1988 LHS graduate expects his players to share in a sense of commitment.
“The kids should get the same out of me that I expect out of them and that’s being there everyday,” says Frye, who takes over a program that was led for the past 22 seasons by Jim Turner Jr.
Frye was a middle infielder for the Berries when Jim Turner Sr., an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, was head coach.
“Both are pretty laid-back guys,” says Frye of the Turners. “It takes a lot to get them excited. They wanted the accountability to be on the players and leave it up to the players to get the job done.”
Frye considers both Turners great baseball minds.
“It’s how they think about the game and situations throughout the game,” says Frye. “We’ll continue to work on situations.
“You should be practicing the way you anticipate playing. I practiced as hard as I played. Anything less than that is unacceptable.”
Three Frye brothers were standouts at Logansport and then at Indiana State University of Hall of Fame coach Bob Warn. Older brother Paul Frye played on the 1986 College World Series team and was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 11th round of that year’s Major League Baseball First Year Draft. The outfielder/infielder played four seasons in the minors.
Twins Dan and Dennis started at ISU in 1989.
“My decision was pretty easy,” says Dan Frye. “That’s where I wanted to go. I wanted a part of it.
“Bob Warn was a great coach and it was great to be around him.”
Mitch Hannahs (who is now Indiana State head coach) was a senior shortstop at ISU when Frye was a freshman second baseman.
“I don’t think Indiana State could be in better hands,” says Frye of Hannahs.
Playing in the Missouri Valley Conference, the Frye brothers got to play against several future big leaguers.
“The competition was phenomenal,” says Frye, who counted Mike Farrell (who is now a baseball scout) as a teammate at Logansport and Indiana State.
The Sycamores beat the Shockers 4-of-6 the year Wichita State won the national championship (1989).
“Each level of competition prepared me for the next level,” says Frye. “I was not in shock about seeing a fastball.
“Everybody (in the North Central Conference) threw hard. It was not odd.”
Dan and Dennis were drafted in 1988 by the Los Angeles Dodgers after high school — infielder/outfielder Dan Frye in the 56th round and first baseman/outfielder Dennis Frye in the 57th — but opted for college.
Dan Frye was selected in the 20th round of the 1992 draft by the Cincinnati Reds and played four seasons in the minors.
That first year he played in Princeton, W.Va., and he later began his coaching coach at Princeton High School.
With two small children, Frye moved back to Logansport in 1999 to be closer to family.
A few years later, he began coaching Little League and Babe Ruth baseball around town.
He was hired by the Logansport Police Department in 2002 and worked his way up from patrolman to assistant chief. He spent nearly four years on the narcotics unit. While coaching at Logansport High School, he also served as school resource officer.
There are now three lawmen on the Berries coaching staff — Dan Frye, Clayton Frye (his son and a Logansport detective) and Chris Jones (a Cass County sheriff’s deputy) — plus other former LHS players Brad Platt, Brian Gleitz, Ron Kinnaman and Cooper Kinnaman. Clayton Frye and Gleitz will work with pitchers, Jones with catcher and Platt with outfielders. The Kinnamans and Jones are assigned to the junior varsity team.
Frye looks to have a young first squad in 2020. At this point, there are three seniors — Matt Foutz, C.J. Hallam and Drake McLochlin.
During the fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period, Frye and up to a dozen players got together for workouts.
“I saw some kids field, swing bats and throw,” says Frye. “The numbers weren’t always there to run a legitimate full practice. I was able to see what kids can and can’t do and start working on development stuff with ones who were there.”
Frye is catching up on the 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), which was not in place the last time he was coaching high school ball.
“I agree with it,” says Frye. “It’s a good rule. It’s about the safety for the kids.
“We have to develop more pitching.
“It’ll be interesting to see how people coach a little differently with the pitch count and all that. I’m sure I’m going to learn some valuable lessons from coaches around here”
With the pitch limit, strike-throwing has become extra important.
“How many pitches can you waste anymore?,” says Frye. “When I played, I didn’t want to stand around taking pitches. One pitch and we’re headed around the base paths. I wanted to hit.”
He recalls hitting the first pitch of a game against Marion out of the park during his sophomore season.
“Walks put runners on base and I see it differently now.”
The NCC tends to play Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Saturday doubleheaders.
The Berries are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Harrison (West Lafayette), Kokomo, Lafayette Jeff and McCutcheon. Logansport won its 29th sectional crown in 2019. The Berries have been in the State Finals 10 times with state championships in 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991 and a state runner-up finish in 1989.
Logansport plays on an artificial turf surface. Jim Turner Field has been covered since the 2016 season.
Dan Frye, 49, is married to Cynthia and has four adult children — Clayton Frye and Krista Frye in Logansport, Dustin Clements in Nashville, Tenn., and Katie Clements in Denver, Colo.
Cynthia and Dan Frye are surrounded by children (from left) Katie Clements, Krista Frye, Dustin Clements, KyLeigh Frye (daughter-in-law) and Clayton Frye. Dan Frye is the head baseball coach at his alma mater — Logansport (Ind,) High School.
Teams play a home-and-home within their division then a crossover game with the corresponding regular-season placer in the other division.
BC is in an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Maconaquah, Northwestern, Peru, West Lafayette and Western. Benton Central has won 25 sectionals — the last in 2009.
The Bison roam on-campus at Darrell Snodgrass Field, a facility that recently received new fencing and upgraded dugouts and sound system. The worked on the diamond in the fall, doing things like edging.
With all that breeze, Vernon says it is best to be conservative field conditioner in the like in the autumn.
“You put too much stuff down in the fall, it won’t be there in the spring,” says Vernon.
Vernon’s 2019 assistants include Denny Musser and pitching coach Brad Goffinet with the varsity and Tyler Marsh with the junior varsity. Musser, the uncle of former Benton Central and professional left-hander Neal Musser, was a JV coach at BC on the staff of Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Gary DeHaven.
Neal Musser pitched 18 games for the 2007 and 2008 Kansas City Royals.
The southpaw was selected in the second round of the 1999 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the New York Mets.
Goffinet pitched at Indianapolis Marshall High School and Butler University in the 1970’s. Marsh is a former North Newton High School assistant.
Right-hander Jayson Best graduated from Benton Central in 1985 and played at Milligan College in Elizabethtown, Tenn., before signing with the Minnesota Twins in 1989. He reached the Double-A level in 1992 and 1993 and hurled for the independent Lafayette (Ind.) Leopards in 1996 and 1997. He was pitching at Goshen College 2000-04 (one season for Todd Bacon and four for Brent Hoober) and Maple Leafs head coach in 2005.
Benton Central baseball is largely fed by travel baseball organizations, including the Lafayette Lightning and Indiana Nitro. In the past, teams have played Pony League and Babe Ruth.
Turner’s Berries lost 6-2 to Evansville Memorial in the 1989 IHSAA state championship game. Vernon was his left fielder and lead-off hitter. It was the first of Logan’s three straight Final Four appearances. The Berries 7-3 in the state semifinals to eventual champion LaPorte in 1990 and beat Marion for the state title in 1991.
What was it like to play for Turner Sr.?
“It was a great experience,” says Vernon. “He knows more about baseball is his little pinky than I do in my whole body.”
Turner Sr., who was assisted for many years by Larry “Butch” Jones and Rich Wild, established a winning culture and a program.
“You didn’t want to let coach down,” says Vernon. “He trusted his players. A lot of people revere him.”
As a coach, Vernon learned from Turner Sr. that “you always have to play the best players” and it doesn’t matter what they’re family name is what grade they’re in.
“Sometimes that makes people happy and sometimes it doesn’t,” says Vernon. “If you want to win, that’s what you have to do. Sometimes you have to make those tough decisions.”
After a season of club baseball at the University of Kentucky, Vernon went on to get a bachelor’s degree from Huntington University and master’s degree from Ball State University. He was head baseball coach at Delphi (Ind.) High School from 1994-2000 and assisted Jim Turner Jr. at Logansport for one season in the mid-2000’s and ran Turner’s summer programs.
He picked up pointers on organization and running practice from Turner Jr. Vernon was also head volleyball coach for the Berries.
After a brief stint in Florida, he came back to Indiana. He teaches business and computer classes at Benton Central has been BC’s head volleyball coach for three seasons.
Jon and Diann Vernon have been married for 25 years. They have four children — Matthew, Luke, Kailey and Karlee. Matthew works in finance for Amazon and lives in South Carolina. Luke is a dental student at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis. Kailey is in physician assistant school at Butler University. Karlee is 20 and works in Zionsville, Ind.
Alex Thurston (right) bats for Benton Central High School. He is a junior in 2019 and a verbal commit to Valparaiso (Ind.) University.
Matt Taylor (left) catches a ball at first base for Benton Central High School. He has moved on to the baseball team at Anderson University.
Benton Central players Payton Hall, Taylor Varnado, Alex Thurston, Matt Taylor and Alex Stout represent Hoosier North in the 2017 Colt Harry Bradway Classic in Lafayette, Ind.
The Vernon family in Key West, Fla., with spouses and children (from left): Matthew, Emily, Mary Katherine, Mason, Kailey, Karlee, Diann, Aubriel, Jon and Luke.
Another Benton Central High School baseball signs to play in college (from left): First row — Father David Stout, Benton Central Alex Stout and mother Stephanie Stout. Back row — Bethel College assistant Kiel Boynton, Bethel College head coach Seth Zartman and Benton Central head coach Jon Vernon. (Benton Central Photo)
He fondly recalls shagging flies while father Jim Turner Sr., prepared the Berries.
Later, he played for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer at LHS. Jim Jr. was the winning pitcher after Jim Jr. gave him the ball as a reliever in the fourth inning of the state championship game in 1975. Final: Berries 11, Indianapolis Marshall 5.
In 28 seasons (1964-91), Jim Sr. won 582 games with four state championships (1975, 1977, 1979, 1991), a state runner-up finish (1989) and another Final Four appearance (1990).
When Larry “Bud” Jones became head coach in 1992, Jim Jr. joined his staff and served seven seasons before becoming head coach himself in 1998.
Learning how to play the game from his father while growing up, the younger Turner gained much knowledge from Jones on how to coach young men.
Never much of a yeller and screamer, Turner Jr. says the players of today are generally not motivated by that coming from a coach and are likely to tune out.
“Coach Jones was a great mentor for me,” says Turner Jr. “It was his demeanor. He was calm but firm with players. He would never chew them out. he would describe what was wrong and give them a positive way to fix something.”
Turner Jr. says an adjustment must be suggested as part of the equation.
“Otherwise, you’re not coaching, you’re criticizing,” says Turner Jr. “Give them a way to fix the problem.”
Turner and his 2017 coaching staff — Brad Platt and Greg Korreckt at the varsity level and Cory Cripe, Ron Kinnaman, Mark Lowry and Carlos Villar with the junior varsity — work diligently with the Berries in practice to cover potential situations. Each position has a kind of checklist of things they should know how to do.
“We just try to teach players to be fundamentally sound and take responsibility for their development,” says Turner Jr. “We try to do our coaching in practice. That way we’ve rehearsed or at least talked about everything that could happen and prepare them for the games.”
The Berries adjust their offensive inclinations to their personnel. Turner Jr. says he needs more time to evaluate the new pitch count rules adopted by the IHSAA.
After moving from Riverside Park to Fairview Park, Logan has been on its current on-campus field since the mid-1970’s. It was renamed Jim Turner Field for his father in the early ’90s and in 2016 the Berries became one of the few high schools in Indiana to have artificial turf.
“It’s going to become more and more common,” says Turner Jr. “After a certain period of time the investment pays for itself.”
Before the change to Sprinturf, the field did not drain well and the Berries lost games and practices to inclement weather.
With the turf, Logansport has been able to support a junior high school baseball program as well as soccer and other activities.
Coming off a 16-13 record in 2016, the Berries (10-7, 3-4) head into a May 3 North Central Conference game against Lafayette Harrison.
Established in 1926, the NCC is Indiana’s oldest high school athletic conference. Besides Logansport and Harrison, Kokomo, Lafayette Jeff and McCutcheon are in the West Division with Anderson, Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, Marion, Muncie Central and Richmond in the East Division. The NCC tournament is slated for May 6 and 13.
Logan’s last sectional title came in 2002, the same season the Berries went all the way to the program’s eighth State Finals appearance.
Logansport High School baseball has a long tradition. The Berries now play on turf at Jim Turner Field.
Logansport High School baseball has a long tradition. The Berries now play on turf at Jim Turner Field.