Dimitri Ivetic does not yet know where he will play college baseball in 2022-23. But the right-handed pitcher has been in this position before and he’s not pushing the panic button. Along his college baseball path, 2019 Highland (Ind.) High School graduate Ivetic has been at Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., Santa Barbara (Calif.) City College and Danville (Ill.) Area Community College. Ivetic (pronounced Eave-Uh-Titch) made the decision to attend each only a few weeks before going there. “I think it helps me weigh my options and advice and make the decision that I think works best for me,” says Ivetic, 21. Born in Dyer, Ind., and played in the Highland Babe Ruth League, then travel ball with Morris Chiefs (now 5 Star Great Lakes Chiefs) coached by Matt Mamula and Dave Sutkowski and Florida Pokers. His head coach at Highland High was John Bogner. “He’s very adamant on the fundamentals,” says Ivetic of Bogner. “He was very big on arm healthy and keeping guys healthy. Those are the biggest things I’ve been able to carry over into college. “We had a rough senior year, but my sophomore and junior years we won quite a few games.” How did a kid from northwest Indiana end up on the West Coast? “Ever since I was younger it was my dream to play college baseball,” says Ivetic. “My favorite school was UCLA. I always wanted to play there. I wasn’t good enough to go to UCLA so I decided to go to JUCO out in California.” Through a friend, Ivetic met Palomar pitching coach Hayden Carter while the latter was managing the summer wood-bat Kokomo (Ind.) Jackrabbits. After a visit and seeing the facilities and experiencing the weather, Ivetic joined the program. The righty got into five games totaling three innings for the 2020 Palomar Comets. “I struggled with command a little bit,” says Ivetic. “Then the pandemic hit and we got shut down with mandates and restrictions. We are all like super-disappointed. “During that time I was able to go throw at nearby fields. On one of the last days I strained my forearm. I felt something pull in there. “That bugged me for the next couple months. I worked through it and made some mechanical adjustments which ended up paying off.” Away from baseball, Ivetic went to the beach and on hikes with his roommates. “We became a lot closer,” says Ivetic. “Those are some of my best friends to this day that I still talk to (regularly).” In the summer of 2020, Ivetic did not play but trained at Randy Sullivan’s Florida Baseball ARMory in Lakeland. “He’s a great guy,” says Ivetic of Sullivan. “He’s very innovative. He helped me a lot over the course of a couple years.” When Ivetic learned that the pandemic was going to keep Palomar from baseball activities in the fall of 2020 he decided to transfer to Santa Barbara City College. That turned out to be a tough situation with several COVID-19-related shutdowns and — eventually — no 2021 season. He played for the Bomb Squad in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., then went back to Santa Barbara in the fall and it did not go well. “My velocity was down and I struggled,” says Ivetic. “I made one little adjustment that kind of messed everything up.” During his fall exit meeting, Ivetic was advised that if he wanted more playing time in 2022 he should transfer so he went back to the Midwest and Danville Area, where he pitched in 12 games (26 2/3 innings) and went 2-2 with two saves, 36 strikeouts and 12 walks. “Danville was great,” says Ivetic. “The coaches were great. We struggled through some stuff, but overall it was decent. “I definitely made some memories.” Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Ivetic uses a four-seam fastball (which has been clocked as high as 90 mph), curveball and sweeping slider. “My slider is what I’ve been most comfortable with,” says Ivetic. “I can throw it for a strike in basically any count. It’s got more horizontal movement, but sometimes it will start to look more like my curveball.” Ivetic says he could return to Danville Area in the fall, but has no plans to do so. “It wouldn’t make much sense to go back to junior college at this point because — academically — it would just put me so far behind on how many credits would transfer,” says Ivetic, a Finance major who is in the Transfer Portal. “I’m not quite sure where I’m going. But we’re starting to get some idea of where I’d like to go.” Ivetic is back with the CSL’s Bomb Squad and was named to the July 4 All-Star Game. He also trains with PRP Baseball at the Mojo Up Sports Complex in Noblesville, visiting there before games at Grand Park. PRP Baseball, which was founded by Greg Vogt (now a rehab pitching coach for the Toronto Blue Jays organization), is under the day-to-day guidance of Anthony Gomez. He has coached Ivetic since he was 16. Dimitri is of Serbian descent and the only child born to Zarko and Paula Ivetic. His father sells for Jack Tuchten Wholesale Produce in Chicago and his mother works at Nordstrom.
Iliana Christian won its first Indiana High School Athletic Association sectional baseball title. Jasper hoisted the sectional championship trophy for a state-leading 40th time. Sixty-two other schools also reigned and moved on to regional play on Saturday, June 4. The IHSAA Class 2A Carroll Flora Regional features four teams from the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 10 — No. 1 Carroll, No. 3 Wapahani, No. 4 Eastern (Greentown) and No. 9 Delphi. The 2A Park Tudor Regional has No. 2 Cascade playing No. 7 Centerville in the first game followed by Parke Heritage and vote-getter Heritage Christian. The 3A Griffith Regional includes No. 1 Andrean, No. 2 Western and No. 7 Glenn along with South Bend Saint Joseph. The 3A Danville Regional includes No. 3 West Vigo and No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit in the opener followed by Lebanon and Beech Grove. The 4A Jasper Regional features No. 2 Mooresville, No. 8 Jasper and vote-getter New Albany plus Columbus East. The 4A Lafayette Jeff Regional opens with vote-getter Homestead against No. 6 Fort Wayne Carroll followed by Harrison against Zionsville. In 1A, the Loogootee Regional has No. 1 Borden meeting No. 2 Barr-Reeve in Game 2 after vote-getter Tecumseh plays New Washington.
The 1A he South Bend Washington Regional has three Top 10 teams — No. 4 South Central (Union Mills), No. 9 Caston and No. 10 Fremont — plus Morgan Township. The 1A Lafayette Central Catholic Regional features vote-getters Cowan and Rossville in Game 1 and No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic and No. 5 Union City in Game 2. Three teams at the 1A Morristown Regional received votes in the final regular season poll — Indianapolis Lutheran, Rising Sun and Shakamak. Traders Point Christian is also in the field. South Central of Union Mills (6), Indianapolis Cathedral (5), Silver Creek (5), South Bend Saint Joseph (5), Evansville Memorial (4), Shakamak (4) and Tecumseh (4) comes into regional play with the longest active sectional title streaks. 1A New Washington won its first sectional crown since 1998. It had been since 1999 that 2A’s Eastern (Greentown) and Winamac had won sectional titles. By the time three-team regionals in four classes are complete, there will be 16 teams left in the field. Semistates are scheduled for Saturday, June 11 with the State Finals at Victory Field in Indianapolis Friday and Saturday, June 17-18.
2022 IHSAA REGIONALS Saturday, June 4 (IHSBCA Ranking in Parentheses) Class 4A LaPorte Regional Crown Point vs. Lake Central (Receiving Votes) South Bend Adams vs. Penn Championship Regional titles (most recent): Penn 10 (2017), Crown Point 9 (2011), Lake Central 7 (2014), South Bend Adams 3 (1979).
Highland Sectional (1) Championship — Lake Central 15, Highland 12. Sectional titles through 2022: Highland (13) — Previous 2000. Trojans head coach: John Bogner.
Valparsaiso Sectional (2) Championship — Crown Point 12, Hobart 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Crown Point (22) — Previous 2019. Bulldogs head coach: Steve Strayer.
Plymouth Sectional (3) Championship — South Bend Adams 5, LaPorte 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Adams (10) — Previous 2018. Eagles head coach: Mike Cass.
Penn Sectional (4) Championship — Penn 7, Northridge 5. Sectional titles through 2022: Penn (23) — Previous 2018. Kingsmen head coach: Greg Dikos.
Lafayette Jeff Regional Homestead (RV) vs. Carroll (6) Harrison vs. Zionsville Championship Regional titles (most recent): Carroll 5 (2011), Harrison 5 (1998), Zionsville 4 (2017), Homestead 3 (2015).
DeKalb Sectional (5) Championship — Carroll 7, Snider 6. Sectional titles through 2022: Carroll (15) — Previous 2019. Chargers head coach: Dave Ginder.
Huntington North Sectional (6) Championship — Homestead 10, Wayne 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Homestead (16) — Previous 2021. Spartans head coach: Nick Byall.
Logansport Sectional (7) Championship — Harrison 5, McCutcheon 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Harrison (13) — Previous 2021. Raiders head coach: Pat Lowrey.
New Palestine Regional Anderson vs. Indianapolis Cathedral New Palestine vs. Brownsburg Championship Regional titles (most recent): Indianapolis Cathedral 14 (2018), New Palestine 6 (2014), Brownsburg 5 (2005), Anderson 3 (1995).
Mt. Vernon Sectional (9) Championship — Anderson 13, Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 7. Sectional titles through 2022: Anderson (8) — Previous 2012. Indians head coach: Adrian Heim.
Pike Sectional (10) Championship — Indianapolis Cathedral 10, Lawrence North 8. Sectional titles through 2022: Cathedral (25; five straight) — Previous 2021. Fighting Irish coach Ed Freje.
Roncalli Sectional (11) Championship — New Palestine 12, Franklin Central 2. Sectional titles through 2022: New Palestine (17) — Previous 2015. Dragons head coach: Shawn Lyons.
Terre Haute South Vigo Sectional (12) Championship — Brownsburg 13, Avon 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Brownsburg (15) — Previous 2013. Bulldogs head coach: Dan Roman.
Jasper Regional New Albany (RV) vs. Jasper (8) Columbus East vs. Mooresville (2) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Jasper 26 (2021), Columbus East 10 (2019), New Albany 6 (1995), Mooresville 4 (2004).
Center Grove Sectional (13) Championship — Mooresville 9, Martinsville 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Mooresville (11) — Previous 2004. Pioneers head coach: Eric McGaha.
Bloomington South Sectional (14) Championship — Bloomington South vs. Columbus East Sectional titles through 2022: Columbus East (20) — Previous 2019. Olympians head coach Jon Gratz.
Jennings County Sectional (15) Championship — New Albany 4, Bedford North Lawrence 0. Sectional titles through 2022: New Albany (23) — Previous 2016. Bulldogs head coach: Chris McIntyre.
Evansville Reitz Sectional (16) Championship — Jasper 5, Castle 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Jasper (40) — Previous 2021. Wildcats head coach: Terry Gobert.
Class 3A Griffith Regional Western (2) vs. Glenn (7) Andrean (1) vs. South Bend Saint Joseph Championship Regional titles (most recent): Andrean 14 (2019), Western 7 (2016), Saint Joseph 5 (2017), Glenn 3 (2006).
Griffith Sectional (17) Championship — Andrean 18, Calumet New Tech 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Andrean (30) — Previous 2019. 59ers head coach: Dave Pishkur.
Kankakee Valley Sectional (18) Championship — Glenn 9, Hanover Central 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Glenn (10) — Previous 2017. Falcons head coach: John Nadolny.
South Bend Clay Sectional (19) Championship — South Saint Joseph 18, New Prairie 5. Sectional titles through 2022: Saint Joseph (17; five straight) — Previous 2017. Indians head coach: John Smolinski.
Northwestern Sectional (20) Championship — Western 6, Northwestern 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Western (21) — Previous 2019. Panthers coach: Ryan Berryman.
Oak Hill Regional Wawasee vs. New Castle (RV) Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger vs. Norwell Championship Regional titles (most recent): Norwell 7 (2021), Dwenger 2 (2014), New Castle 2 (1996), Wawasee 0.
Jimtown Sectional (21) Championship — Wawasee 9, NorthWood 5. Sectional titles through 2022: Wawasee (8) — Previous 2021. Warriors head coach: Joe Salazar.
Angola Sectional (22) Championship — Bishop Dwenger 19, Leo 8. Sectional titles through 2022: Dwenger (12) — Previous 2016. Saints head coach: Jason Garrett.
Bellmont Sectional (23) Championship — Norwell 12, Heritage 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Norwell (18) — Previous 2021. Knights head coach: Dave Goodmiller.
Yorktown Sectional (24) Championship — New Castle 3, Guerin Catholic 2. Sectional titles through 2022: New Castle (14) — Previous 2014. Trojans head coach: Josh Cooper.
Danville Regional West Vigo (3) vs. Brebeuf Jesuit (4) Lebanon vs. Beech Grove Championship Regional titles (most recent): West Vigo 7 (2015), Brebeuf 4 (2021), Beech Grove 3 (1990), Lebanon 0.
Crawfordsville Sectional (25) Championship — Lebanon 10, Northview 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Lebanon (12) — Previous 2014. Tigers head coach Rick Cosgray.
Danville Sectional (26) Championship — Brebeuf Jesuit 12, Tri-West Hendricks 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Brebeuf (16) — Previous 2014. Braves head coach: Jeff Scott.
Bishop Chatard Sectional (27) Championship — Beech Grove 4, Bishop Chatard 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Beech Grove (7) — Previous 2014. Hornets head coach: Jacob Wickliff.
Edgewood Sectional (28) Championship — West Vigo 4, Edgewood 3. Sectional titles through 2022: West Vigo (15) — Previous 2018. Vikings head coach: Culley DeGroote.
Southridge Regional Evansville Memorial vs. Vincennes Lincoln Silver Creek (5) vs. Connersville Championship Regional titles (most recent): Evansville Memorial 17 (2016), Connersville 6 (2006), Vincennes Lincoln 4 (2002), Silver Creek 2 (2019).
Rushville Sectional (29) Championship — Connersville 7, Franklin County 6. Sectional titles through 2022: Connersville (19) — Previous 2010. Spartans head coach Michael Thompson.
Madison Sectional (30) Championship — Silver Creek vs. Corydon Central Sectional titles through 2022: Silver Creek (11; five straight) — Previous 2021. Dragons head coach: Joe Decker.
Princeton Sectional (31) Championship — Vincennes Lincoln 7, Southridge 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Vincennes Lincoln (18) — Previous 2019. Alices head coach: Tim Hutchison.
Evansville Bosse Sectional (32) Championship — Evansville Memorial 9, Boonville 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Evansville Memorial (31; four straight) — Previous 2021. Tigers head coach: Rip Collins.
Class 2A Whiting Regional Eastside (RV) vs. Fairfield (RV) Winamac vs. Illiana Christian Championship Regional titles (most recent): Eastside 1 (2021), Fairfield 1 (2010), Illiana Christian 0, Winamac 0.
Whiting Sectional (33) Championship — Illiana Christian 16, Wheeler 4. Sectional titles through 2022: — Illiana Christian (1) — Previous None. Vikings head coach Jeff VanderWoude.
Boone Grove Sectional (34) Championship — Winamac 8, Boone Grove 7. Sectional titles through 2022: Winamac (4) — Previous 1999. Warriors head coach: Marcus Kay.
Delphi Sectional (38) Championship — Delphi 9, Seeger 7. Sectional titles through 2022: Delphi (7) — Previous 2021. Oracles head coach: Ryan Long.
Eastern (Greentown) Sectional (39) Championship — Eastern (Greentown) 13, Eastbrook 4 Sectional titles through 2022: Eastern (Greentown) (3) — Previous 1999. Comets head coach: Erik Hisner.
Frankton Sectional (40) Championship — Wapahani 15, Frankton 10. Sectional titles through 2022: Wapahani (18) — Previous 2021. Raiders head coach: Brian Dudley.
Park Tudor Regional Cascade (2) vs. Centerville (7) Parke Heritage vs. Heritage Christian (RV) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Heritage Christian 3 (2010), Cascade 0, Centerville 0, Parke Heritage 0.
Indianapolis Scecina Sectional (42) Championship — Heritage Christian 12, Indianapolis Scecina 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Heritage Christian (9) — Previous 2017. Eagles head coach: Dan Ambrose.
Park Tudor Sectional (43) Championship — Cascade 6, Covenant Christian 5 Sectional titles through 2022: Cascade (7) — Previous 2005. Cadets head coach: Ty Foster.
Parke Heritage Sectional (44) Championship — Parke Heritage 9, Southmont 8. Sectional titles through 2022: Parke Heritage (2) — Previous 2021. Wolves head coach: Charlie Martin.
Evansville Mater Dei Regional Linton-Stockton vs. North Decatur Forest Park (8) vs. Providence Championship Regional titles (most recent): Providence 7 (2021), Forest Park 1 (1976), Linton-Stockton 0, North Decatur 0.
South Ripley Sectional (45) Championship — North Decatur 5, Southwestern (Hanover) 1. Sectional titles through 2022: North Decatur (2) — Previous 2011. Chargers head coach: Christian McKinney.
Providence Sectional (46) Championship — Providence 9, Austin 8. Providence (20) — Previous 2021. Pioneers head coach: Scott Hutchins.
Mitchell Sectional (47) Championship — Linton-Stockton 8, Mitchell 7 Sectional titles through 2022: Linton-Stockton (11) — Previous 2021. Miners head coach: Jacob Harden.
Evansville Mater Dei Sectional (48) Championship — Forest Park 10, Tell City 0. Forest Park (5) — Previous 2002. Rangers head coach: Jarred Howard.
Class 1A South Bend Washington Regional South Central (Union Mills) (4) vs. Caston (9) Fremont (10) vs. Morgan Township Championship Regional titles (most recent): South Central 4 (2011), Fremont 2 (1999), Caston 0, Morgan Township 0.
Westville Sectional (49) Championship — Morgan Township 16, Marquette Catholic 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Morgan Township (5) — Previous 2018. Cherokees head coach: John Smith.
South Central (Union Mills) Sectional (50) Championship — South Central (Union Mills) 10, Oregon-Davis 0. Sectional titles through 2022: South Central (18; six straight) — Previous 2021. Satellites head coach: Zach Coulter.
Fremont Sectional (51) Championship — Fremont 23, Bethany Christian 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Fremont (8) — Previous 2018. Eagles head coach: Justin Bock.
Caston Sectional (52) Championship — Caston 3, North Miami 1. Sectional titles through 2022: Caston (2) — Previous 2012. Comets head coach: Blake Mollenkopf.
Lafayette Central Catholic Regional Cowan (RV) vs. Rossville (RV) Union City (5) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (3) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Lafayette Central Catholic 14 (2018), Cowan 4 (2021), Rossville 3 (2019), Union City 0.
Lafayette Central Catholic Sectional (53) Championship — Lafayette Central Catholic 10, Covington 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Lafayette Central Catholic (18) — Previous 2018. Knights head coach: Tim Bordenet.
Tri-County Sectional (54) Championship — Rossville 12, Clinton Central 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Rossville (7) — Previous 2019. Hornets head coach: Brad Scott.
Anderson Preparatory Sectional (55) Championship — Cowan 5, Wes-Del 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Cowan (8) — Previous 2021. Blackhawks head coach: Aaron Wells.
Seton Catholic Sectional (56) Championship — Union City 9, Blue River Valley 4. Sectional titles through 2022: Union City (4) — Previous 2021. Indians head coach: Jason Dowler.
Morristown Regional Rising Sun (RV) vs. Shakamak (RV) Traders Point Christian vs. Indianapolis Lutheran (RV) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Shakamak 13 (2021), Indianapolis Lutheran 1 (2017), Rising Sun 1 (2013), Traders Point Christian 0.
Shakamak Sectional (57) Championship — Shakamak 14, White River Valley 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Shakamak (27; four straight) — Previous 2021. Lakers head coach: Jeremy Yeryar.
Indiana Deaf Sectional (58) Championship — Traders Point Christian 9, Bethesda Christian 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Traders Point Christian (2) — Previous 2021. Knights head coach: Jaylen Cushenberry.
Morristown Sectional (59) Championship — Indianapolis Lutheran 12, Edinburgh 2. Sectional titles through 2022: Indianapolis Lutheran (14) — Previous 2019. Saints head coach: Adam Gouker.
Jac-Cen-Del Sectional (60) Championship — Rising Sun 2, Jac-Cen-Del 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Rising Sun (8) — Previous 2019. Shiners head coach: Kevin Wirsch.
Loogootee Regional New Washington vs. Tecumseh (RV) Barr-Reeve (2) vs. Borden (1) Championship Regional titles (most recent): Tecumseh 10 (2019), Barr-Reeve 2 (1998), Borden 1 (2021), New Washington 0.
Lanesville Sectional (61) Championship — Borden 12, Lanesville 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Borden (6) — Previous 2021. Braves head coach: Eric Stotts.
Shawe Memorial Sectional (62) Championship — New Washington 8, West Washington 7. Sectional titles through 2022: New Washington (2) — Previous 1998. Mustangs head coach: Jeremy Bower.
Loogootee Sectional (63) Championship — Barr-Reeve 9, North Daviess 3. Sectional titles through 2022: Barr-Reeve (13) — Previous 2019. Vikings head coach: Trevor McConnell.
Cannelton Sectional (64) Championship — Tecumseh 11, Springs Valley 0. Sectional titles through 2022: Tecumseh (17; four straight) — Previous 2021. Braves head coach: Ted Thompson.
Damen Castillo likes to maintain a routine. “I am very superstitious, especially when it comes to baseball,” says Castillo, a 2018 graduate of Highland (Ind.) High School, where he played for John Bogner, and is in his final season at Benedictine University (Lisle, Ill.) in 2022. “I have a Red Bull before every game — no matter what. “I’ll play catch in the same spot. I’ll go through the same routine for hitting.” Castillo has also been known to keep his helmet or equipment bag in the same location. Why? “I have no idea,” says Castillo, a 6-foot-2, 240-pounder who plays first base and bats clean-up for the Benedictine Eagles. Going into action Tuesday, April 26 against North Central College, the righty-swinger is hitting .381 (40-of-105) with seven home runs, nine doubles, 37 runs batted in and 25 runs scored for a team that is 21-6 overall and 15-1 atop the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference standings (Benedictine was 29-13 and 15-5 in 2021). Because of COVID-19, Castillo has another year of eligibility remaining, but is planning to finish his degree in Management and Organizational Behavior with a concentration in Operations Management. Castillo, who spent the summer of 2021 with the Prospect League’s Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp, says he will entertain professional baseball opportunities if they come his way. Otherwise, he intends to enter the work force, going into construction like members of his family. “I want to start out as a worker so I can learn things,” says Castillo. “I don’t want to manage something so young like that.” He has thoroughly enjoyed his college experience. “The relationships you build with people are for the rest of my life,” says Castillo. “The baseball part of it has been fun.” As an NCAA Division III program, Benedictine conducted fall workouts and then had “captain’s practice” — where coaches were not allowed instruct — in the winter. Adam Smith is the Eagles head coach. “We’ve become really close,” says Castillo. “He’s really good with everybody. He’s easy to talk to as a coach. “He’ll get on you when you do something wrong but teach you so you can do it right the next time.” Benedictine practices tend to top out at two hours and there is also weightlifting and extra hitting during a typical week. “Coach Smith likes to give us free time,” says Castillo. “You’ve got to get away from it a little bit.” Castillo, who lives in an on-campus apartment with three teammates, likes to relax with video games like Call of Duty and MLB The Show.
Playing with and against players from bigger schools, Damen Castillo enjoys showing what he can do on a baseball diamond. Castillo, a 6-foot-3, 240-pound righty-swinging/throwing first baseman, plays during the spring at NCAA Division III Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill. This summer, the Highland (Ind.) High School graduate is with the Prospect League’s Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp in the team’s first season in Peru, Ill. “It’s the competition level,” says Castillo, 21. “The pace of play is faster than what I come from. “It’s fun being around guys from different schools like that.” Of the 31 players listed on the team’s online roster, 18 are from Illinois with eight from California and one each from Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin. Castillo is one of six players from NCAA D-III schools (the others are pitchers Jake Dahl of Rockford University, Chandler Kerr of Concordia University Chicago and Justin Rios and Jason Shanner of North Central College and infielder Garry Maynard of Concordia University Chicago). There are 20 from NCAA D-I, two from NCAA D-II and three from National Junior College Athletic Association institutions. Teams on Illinois Valley’s schedule, which consists of squads from the Wabash River, Great River, Prairie Land divisions, boasts no less than 105 D-I players. The Pistol Shrimp are owned and managed by John Jakiemiec, who co-owns a player development academy in Naperville, Ill., Evolution Athletics. “He’s been great,” says Castillo of Jakiemiec. “When we play, it’s real serious. “You get your work in and still try to win at the same time. “It’s been a fun summer.” Jakiemiec, who played baseball at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., uses his Ivy League education to throw out random facts during bus trips. “We don’t always know what he’s talking about,” says Castillo. “But we laugh.” Through 25 games with the Pistol Shrimp, Castillo was hitting .280 (23-of-82) with five home runs, four doubles, 14 runs batted in and 10 runs scored. “One of my best qualities as a hitter is the ability to drive the ball to the right side of the field,” says Castillo. “I get pitched away and I get a lot of off-speed. Over the years I’ve gotten good at hitting the outside pitch.” Adam Smith is the head coach at Benedictine. “He’s been real supportive,” says Castillo of Smith. “He come to me with things he think I can change.” Castillo appreciates how Smith keeps practices loose and competitive. “Our team tends to do better when things are like that,” says Castillo, who helped the Eagles go 29-13 overall and 15-5 in the Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference in 2021. “We do competition things in practice. It’s better than taking mass ground balls or BP. “It makes it fun.” In 42 games (all as a starter), Castillo hit .347 (61-of-176) with nine homers, one triple, 18 doubles, 51 RBIs, 35 runs and a 1.009 OPS (.395 on-base percentage plus .614 slugging average). The 2021 season was his third at Benedictine. In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, he started all seven games and hit .217 (5-of-23) with one extra-base hit (a double), four RBIs, three runs and a .557 OPS (.296/.261). As a freshman in 2019, Castillo played a little bit of third base before becoming a full-time first baseman. In 28 games (24 as a starter), he hit .323 (32-of-99) with four homers, six doubles, 21 RBIs, 16 runs and a .885 OPS (.380/.505). With two years of eligibility left, Castillo is a year away from earning a degree in Management of Organizational Behavior through the Goodwin College of Business. Castillo and his Eagles teammates are to report back to campus in late August and will get right to work for about eight weeks of workouts before “captain’s practice” where NCAA D-III rules limit contact by the coaching staff. Born and raised in Highland to Damen and Jodee Castillo with little sister Angelica (a volleyball and softball athlete entering her senior year at Highland High in 2021-22), “D” played travel ball around his hometown until 12 and then went with the Dave Griffiin-coached Indiana Playmakers, Morris (coached by Jim Tucker), Chiefs (coached by Dave Sutkowski) and Midwest Irish (coached by Shane Brogan). When the Midwest Collegiate League shut down and Castillo was not able to play for the Southland Vikings in 2020, he assisted Brogan with the Irish. “He has been the closest coach to me,” says Castillo of Brogan. The two talk every other day. This year, Castillo helps Brogan out in practice when his schedule allows. John Bogner was Castillo’s coach at Highland and had the third baseman on the varsity since early in his freshmen year with the Trojans. “He was a great high school coach and I learned a lot from him,” says Castillo, who stays in touch with Bogner and dropped by practice during the end of 2021 season to hit with the Highland team.
Many programs are planning to play a few games once restrictions are lifted July 1.
Teams will be using this opportunity to recognize the Class of 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the entire IHSAA spring sports season, including baseball.
Regional tournaments would have been played Saturday (June 6).
Following is a sampling of some the salutes across Indiana.
Hornets head coach Roger Roddy says current plans call for Monday and Thursday practices and Friday intrasquad games the last two weeks in July with senior recognition July 30.
A family picnic is in the mix. Like many programs, Angola has been giving social media shout-outs via Twitter.
Greyhounds head coach Matt Buczkowski traveled to the homes of his seniors to present a commemorative bat.
Warriors coach Pat O’Neil made video wrap-ups after every games of a faux season. The Hall of Famer “saw” his team win a virtual state title.
Once the quarantine began but before the season was canceled, O’Neil asked his players to send him a 20-second video of them working on offensive and defensive skills. There was an award for the most dedicated player.
There was a parade of cars at the baseball field.
“One coach gave a letter certificate, one coach gave letters or chevrons, one coach gave new jerseys,” says O’Neil. “They took individual photos in center field with new jerseys.
“It was good to see them be enthusiastic.”
When July arrives, O’Neil is planning to have practices for junior varsity and varsity players, including seniors.
A scrimmage with a senior recognition that includes souvenir bats and a cookout is slated for July 6.
A youth camp is also planned at the end of July.
In the last year of the program before the merger of Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central, Crimson Chargers head coach Scott Rost conducted a Twitter tournament and voters selected their favorite jersey.
Rost was also hired to be head coach of the Elkhart High School Lions in 2020-21.
Tigers head coach Matt Cherry hopes his team will be able to play doubleheaders July 13-14 with seniors being saluted.
“It’s the craziest spring I’ve ever been a part of,” says Eagles head coach Brad Douglas. “I’ve tried to reach out to the boys the best we can following all the social distancing protocol.”
Gift baskets with sunflower seeds, Gatorade, bubble gum and a baseball painted by Brian Borumn was taken to the seniors.
Tributes were placed on Twitter and new jerseys were made available for photos.
“At least once, we want to put them on and get a team picture,” says Douglas. “I don’t want these boys to be forgotten just because we didn’t get to play this year.”
Panthers head coach Brian Jennings turned on the lights at his field at 9:20 p.m. as a tribute to the Class of 2020.
Trojans head coach John Bogner, who counted son Justin among his seniors, has done his best to acknowledge the Class of 2020.
Social media has been part of that.
Without games to play on what would have been Senior Day for the Vikings, head coach Mark Fluekiger spent 12 hours working on Viking Field.
As the sun was setting, he took photos and recorded a video tribute to seniors.
The Jimmies are looking forward to a unique doubleheader on July 11.
Early in the day comes delayed commencement. At 7:30 p.m., Jimtown plays Bristol Americn Legion Post 143 in a game at Booster Field.
Jimmies coach Cory Stoner says he expects that all 11 of his seniors will be able to play catch with their fathers prior to playing in the contest.
Stoner, who is also the JHS head football coach, also plans to have baseball practices in July.
Drive Main Street in Lanesville, Ind., and you’ll see banners on light poles for senior sports athletes — that includes 11 baseball seniors.
“They’ve meant a lot to our program,” says Swingin’ Eagles head coach Zach Payne. “They’e good kids and good leaders.”
Payne says there may be a joint event with Lanesville softball. There has also been talk about games in late July featuring Corydon Central, North Harrison, South Central (Elizabeth) and Crawford County.
Slicers head coach Scott Upp had Schreiber Field lit up at 8:20 p.m. as a nod to his seniors.
May 20 was supposed to be Senior Night for Mishawaka.
Cavemen head coach John Huemmer went to Freddie Fitzsimmons Field, hung nine senior jerseys on the backstop and turned on the lights.
A Senior Night dinner was being planned. An engraved gift bat will include the bats of seniors.
Huemmer is hopeful that there will be a few practices and games in July.
Bear Tolman Field had the numbers of New Prairie’s eight seniors painted on it and there’s drone photos to prove it.
Cougars head coach Mark Schellinger says its not likely that high school teams will practice or play this summer though his players have connected with their various travel organizations.
“We’re hoping to get together as a team to recognize team and seniors,” says Schellinger, who was the head coach for the North at the 2019 IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series in Madison (the 2020 series in Evansville was canceled). “(Seniors) made very big contributions to our program — on and off the field. They added to the culture and raised the expectations. They set examples for younger players.
“We still spent a lot of time together as a team and a group (in the preseason) — even though games didn’t start.”
Raiders head coach Andrew Brabender says his team gathered at a player’s house for a senior dinner.
Nothing is set in stone, but Brabender says he’d like to put together an alumni game in late July or early August to be staged at the new turfed athletic complex.
“It’s a little closure for seniors,” says Brabender. “They weren’t going to get to play on that field anyway.”
Knights coach Craig Trout has gotten banners and jerseys to his players for photo opportunities.
Senior numerals have been painted on the field.
Northview is hoping to have a wiffle ball game after July 4.
“It’s hard right now for (the players),” says Trout. “It’s hard for their parents.”
Panthers head coach A.J. Risedorph has filled his time not only with online teaching and helping with Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Zoom meetings, he’s been dressing his diamond.
Senior numbers have been emblazoned on the field.
SOUTH BEND CLAY
Colonials head coach Joel Reinebold saw that uniforms were distributed for photos.
Twitter appreciation was spread on Twitter.
Yard signs were made as was a video to the tune of “Centerfield” by John Fogerty.
Clay assistant coach Tony Cruz, who recently was released from the hospital following COVID-19 treatment, has invited players to join his South Bend American Legion Post 151 team this summer.
“It’s an unfortunate situation for everybody at all levels,” says Warriors head coach Jason Rahn. “First and foremost, everyone’s health and safety is the top priority.”
Westview lost several top players to graduation in 2019, but there was excitement for 2020.
“We thought we did a good job of re-loading,” says Rahn.
Seniors have been spotlighted on Twitter with vintage-looking baseball cards.
The Class of 2020 has been invited for a July 16 home game against Bristol American Legion Post 143. Westview looks to play at Lakeland July 20 and host another Northeast Corner Conference foe July 22.
While the local recreation season has been canceled with local parks just now opening, travel ball (8U to 14U) is on.
“We feel like we’re making the best of it,” says Rahn, who indicates a camp is being planned for rec ball players.
At Toledo, where Rob Reinstetle is head coach and Nick McIntyre (McCutcheon High School and Purdue University graduate) and Tommy Winterstein are full-time assistants, a big part of Repay’s duties is as camp director. He identifies prospects and brings them to campus. He also coordinates youth camps for the Rockets.
Before the 2020 season was cut short by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Repay helped pitching coach Winterstein and also assisted in many administrative details, including making budgets, handling travel details and making practice plans.
“I’ve learned so much,” says Repay. “If you want to do something right and do it at a high level, it’s not just the stuff on the field.”
Repay identifies with Reinstetle’s attention to detail.
“We both know how we want things done,” says Repay.
This is Repay’s first Division I experience. For years, D-I programs have been trying to get the NCAA to approve a third paid assistant.
As a D-I volunteer, Repay would like to see the change.
“It takes to run a collegiate baseball program,” says Repay. “(Adding another paid assistant would be) rewarding people that work their tail off non-stop.
“But I knew what I was getting into this season. I have nothing to complain about. I’m 34 with wife and three children. It’s a mindset in how you approach everyday. I do not going to let no pay effect how much work or effort I put into it.”
With his Northwoods League experience, Repay is also charged with placing players with summer teams.
He notes that the Virginia-based Valley Baseball League has already opted to cancel its season because of COVID-19 concerns and other leagues are likely to follow suit, though there is hope that there will be some semblance of a summer season.
“Summer is huge in their development,” says Repay. “Baseball needs this.”
Toledo was on its spring trip in Georgia when the NCAA season was halted.
“This is an unprecedented moment in our lives,” says Repay. “Per the NCAA, we’re not allowed to instruct our guys. But keeping a constant interaction between coaches and players is very healthy thing.
“We check in with our guys to make sure their minds are right.”
Right after the shutdown, Repay thought about his baseball coaching brethren.
“I made a list of people I wanted to call and check in on to make sure everybody is healthy,” says Repay. “(Coaches are) all fighting the same fight. We’re all on stand-by.
“It’s like time has been frozen.”
Repay commends the coaches that are continuing communication and learning through Zoom conferences and podcasts etc.
“It keeps that knowledge sponge going for everybody,” says Repay. “The more we band together at this time, the stronger it’s going to be when it’s done.
“It’s people helping people at this point.”
Both his wife (Hope) and mother (Gretchen) are nurses. Hope is an LPN for ProMedica at a clinic working with mothers before and after birth.
Due to Coronavirus precautions, when Hope comes home to Sean, Nadia (9), Maddux (6) and Raeleigh (1), she launders her scrubs and showers thoroughly.
“We stay in quarantine,” says Sean Repay, who resides in Maumee, Ohio. On the few trips out of the house, the family wears masks and gloves.
Gretchen Repay is a nurse manager at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., and works in intensive care and cardiovascular units.
“(Healthcare) workers out there are doing their best,” says Repay.“This is a serious time. We have to put baseball aside.
“What’s important is family and people’s health.”
Sean’s father, Ed, worked for years in the steel industry. Older sister Nicole is married with three children. Right now, family communication is done via FaceTime and Skype.
Throughout his career, Repay has built lasting relationships with coaches and players. Part of his “inner circle” includes Ben Reel and he still communicates frequently with the IU Southeast head coach.
“I learned so much in such a short amount of time,” says Repay of his time on Reel’s staff. “He’s helped me so much in my career.”
A right-handed pitcher during his playing days, Reel allowed Repay to run the Grenadiers pitching staff. The team won 37 games, a River States Conference regular season title and finished No. 24 in the NAIA rankings.
At Lakeland, Repay learned from then-Muskies head coach Mike Bachar.
“He let me take on every administrative role I wanted to get my hands on,” says Repay. “He was very task-oriented. There was structure. I I knew what I was going to do everyday.”
Bachar also got Repay to think even more about the academic side of collegiate baseball coaching. At the D-III level, there are no athletic scholarships so aid for academics and need really come into play.
As head coach, Bryan Moses took Antelope Valley from a club program to an NAIA power.
Repay appreciates the freedom Moses gave to a young coach.
“He let me off the leash a little bit,” says Repay of Moses, who is now head coach McPherson (Kan.) College. “He let me learn through failure.
“He was such a player’s coach and such a new-school guy. I still take ideas from that season.”
Rick Giannetti became the head coach at Dominican in 1988 and still guides the Chargers program.
“I couldn’t stay away from baseball,” says Repay. “It was a no-brainer to start putting feelers out.”
Gannetti gave him his first taste of college coaching.
“I had to flip the script real quick and change from a player to a coach,” says Repay, who suddenly was learning how to run a pitching staff and recruit D-II players.
One of his pitchers was right-hander Matt Festa, who made his major league debut in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners.
At the time, Dominican played in the only D-II district in the country to use wood bats.
“That’s the way I feel baseball was intended to be played,” says Repay.
Florence manager Dennis Pelfrey had been a coach on the staff of manager Greg Tagert at Gary and invited Repay to be his pitching coach.
“He took a leap of faith,” says Repay of Pelfrey, who now manages in the San Francisco Giants system. “There are some very good arms in (the Frontier League). They are very raw. They might be missing command, need to develop an off-speed pitch or it may be mental. My job was to push them out their door again (toward affiliated baseball or a higher independent league).”
Repay’s relationship with Tagert goes back to him coming to Gary to throw simulated games, though he never signed as a RailCats player.
Growing up in Highland, Repay was very familiar with the Gary franchise from its earliest days in the modern Northern League.
Tagert brought Repay in as a bullpen coach and he got to work with bullpen catcher Aaron Ciaburri, who now coaches at Ranchview High School in Irving, Texas.
“It was such an honor to put on that jersey and work with Greg,” says Repay of Tagert. “Gary is the New York Yankees of indy ball to me. It’s first class. Greg treats everybody with respect. The goal is to win an American Association championship and move everybody up.
“Many of my core principles come from that summer.”
Bisbee was a first-year team when Repay managed the team to a 33-30 mark.
“It was a humbling experience,” says Repay. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.”
In that league where five-hour bus rides and small crowds are the norm, it’s all about players working hard to chase their baseball dreams.
“You’re looking at the grinders of grinders,” says Repay.
“He was fun to play for,” says Repay of the man who still leads the Loras Duhawks. “He had a natural relationship with his players. He didn’t sugar-coat anything and installed the will to want to win.
“He’s relentless at everything he does — in a good way.”
When Repay was at Highland (2000-04), Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dan Miller was the head coach and current Trojans head coach John Bogner was an assistant.
“(Miller) came in with a plan for it everyday,” says Repay. “He was very organized. He was a very good game manager.”
Repay fondly recalls showdowns with Andrean, Lake Central and Munster and how Miller would pump up the intensity and go after the weaknesses of those teams.
“It was a culture of winning,” says Repay. “But it wasn’t forced. He trusted his players.”
Repay and Bogner have maintained communication over the years.
“He’s an amazing human being,” says Repay. “He’s trying to better his players (on the field) and in their lives.”
Sean Repay is surrounded by his family and the mascots of the summer collegiate Northwoods League’s Bismarck (N.D.) Larks. Repay, a graduate of Highland (Ind.) High School, managed the Larks 2017-19 and is now a volunteer assistant at the University of Toledo. Sean and Hope have daughters Nadia (9) and Raeleigh (1) and son Maddux (6). (Bismarck Larks Photo)
Sean Repay, a graduate of Highland High School and Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, is the volunteer assistant baseball coach at the University of Toledo. He was pitching coach at Indiana University Southeast in 2019. (University of Toledo Photo)
“It’s absolutely phenomenal,” says Adam Musielak, head baseball coach at Whiting High since the 2016 season and part of the Oilers staff since 2015. “It’s got to be one of the best high school fields in the entire state.”
“They do amazing work,” says Musielak. “The kids that get to play on that don’t know how lucky they are. At most schools, you spend 20 minutes after the game or practice raking the field.”
Being so close to the water also means there’s a chill at many Whiting home games.
“It can be 45 degrees in Whiting and 70 degrees in other places,” says Musielak. “I always pack my cold gear no matter what the weather’s like.”
The Oilers are in an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Bowman Academy, Gary Roosevelt, Hammond Bishop Noll, Lake Station Edison and River Forest. Whiting has won three sectionals — 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Oilers were in the championship game in 2017 and 2018.
Musielak welcomes back two players for 2019 that have been Whiting starters since they were freshmen — senior Nino Barbosa and junior Aidan Plemons.
Barbosa has played many positions and done some pitching. He paced the 2018 Oilers in most offensive categories.
Musielak says the three-sport standout could end up playing football, basketball or baseball at the college level.
Right-hander Plemons was Whiting’s No. 1 pitcher a year ago and hits in the heart of the lineup and also has college baseball aspirations.
Recent graduates moving on to college diamonds are right-hander Cody Bucsko (Calumet College of St. Joseph) and left-hander Ryan Veloz (South Suburban College in South Holland, Ill.).
Musielak’s coaching staff features Tim Mysliwy and volunteer Brad Johnson. A third assistant is being sought.
Mysliwy brings knowledge in player development. He has multiple drills for every situation.
“He’s someone I lean on big time,” says Musielak of Mysliwy. “Since we share our field with Calumet College, we must come up with unique practice ideas when we’re indoors.
“There are no wasted days. We’re getting work in no matter what we’re doing.”
Whiting (enrollment of about 430) has many multi-sport athletes that share facilities.
“We make do with what we’ve got and who we’ve got,” says Musielak. “Our goal is to always get them better.
“With the kids that are working hard, you can see the results.”
Musielak expects to keep 26 to 28 players for varsity and junior varsity schedules.
Traveling on smaller activity buses, the Oilers usually take 13 or 14 to road games with a few more at home games.
“We make sure every kid gets an opportunity to play once a week no matter the level,” says Musielak.
“It’s great competition,” says Musielak. “It helps us prepare for the postseason.”
Musielak is a 2008 graduate of Highland (Ind.) High School, where he played football and baseball for four years and basketball for three.
He was quarterback and team leader for the Spartans in football, playing for head coach Eric Miller.
“He’s someone I really look up to,” says Musielak of Miller. “He taught me how to be a young man and do the right thing. As simple as it sounds, that is something that has stuck with me to this day.
“He’s a great person.”
A pitcher, Musielak played on the diamond for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dan Miller and assistant John Bogner (now head baseball coach at Highland).
“He taught you what it meant to have a little toughness and some resiliency,” says Musielak of Dan Miller. “He gave us confidence
“He always believed we would win and that trickled down to the rest of us and we believed it.”
Musielak cherishes the opportunity to compete each spring against his alma mater and be welcomed home by mentor Bogner.
“He’s been good about walking me through the head coaching process,” says Musielak.
He was an assistant football coach for one season at Highland and is still part of the grid staff at Griffith High School, where Ben Geffert logged his fourth season as head coach this fall.
Musielak first coached basketball as a boys varsity assistant to former Oilers head coach Tim Hopps in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Kevin Lenz was the head baseball coach in Musielak’s first spring with the Oilers.
Musielak enjoyed the Japanese program at Highland and had considered teaching that language to high schoolers.
Instead, he graduated from Indiana University in 2013 and is now in his third year of instructing fifth graders at Ready Elementary in Griffith. His dog is named “Hoosier” and he enjoys rooting for IU’s sports teams.
Adam is the third child of Paul and Joyce Musielak, who both work at Siemer Heating & Cooling in Highland. Older brother Paul Musielak owns Gem Homes in Indianapolis and his younger sister Christina Musielak teaches special education in Crown Point, Ind. Adam is two years younger than Paul and two years older than Christina.
“Dad likes to say he’s been in every home in The Region,” says Musielak. “He taught me how to throw a football and a baseball. When I took pitching lessons, he was my personal catcher.”
A paraprofessional when Adam and his siblings were in school, he credits his mother for instilling an appreciation for education. She was at every game and organized team meals.
Adam and Paul were competitive while growing up.
“He showed me how to gain some toughness,” says Musielak. “My sister played a couple of sports when she was younger. She was the water girl/manager for the football team.
He marvels at what she does as a teacher.
“I’ve never met anybody that has such a heart of gold,” says Musielak.
Two Whiting graduates played in the majors — outfielder Al Pilarcik (1956-61 with the Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox) and infielder Larry Fritz (one game with the 1975 Philadelphia Phillies). Pilarcik is an IHSBCA Hall of Famer.
Adam Musielak, a Highland (Ind.) High School and Indiana University graduate, is head baseball coach at Whiting (Ind.) High School and an assistant football coach at Griffith (Ind.) High School. He is also a fan of the Chicago Bears.
Adam Musielak has been part of the Whiting (Ind.) High School baseball coaching staff since 2015. He heads into his fourth season as head coach in 2019.
“We take a lot of pride in wearing our ‘H’ on our chest,” says John Bogner, who enters his sixth season as Trojans head coach and the 23rd in the program in 2019. “ We remember the kids who played at Highland previously. We want to have solid program that everyone should at least have on their radar.”
Bogner (pronounced BOAG-ner) was hired at Highland as a math teacher and has coached football, wrestling and baseball at various levels. He was the head freshmen baseball coach his first five springs then a varsity assistant for 12.
That was under Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dan Miller, who amassed more than 600 wins, nine sectional titles, four regionals and one semistate and sent dozens of players on to college baseball from 1982-2013. Two of Miller’s former players — outfielder Tony Terzarial and left-handed pitcher Jordan Minch — were selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“It’s hard to replace a Hall of Fame coach,” says Bogner. “But we try to keep the bar as he set it.”
Bogner says he also appreciated Miller’s organization, attention to detail, his ability to handle kids and his game strategy.
Two members of the Highland Class of 2018 — catcher Nick Anderson (Kankakee, Ill., Community College) and third baseman Damen Castillo (Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill.) — on to college diamonds. Current senior right-handed pitcher Jordan Siska is committed to the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill.
Bogner asks his players to be focused on the field, take a disciplined approach at the plate and throw strikes with command on the mound.
“We want to do everything right,” says Bogner. “My players say, ‘you’re pretty old-fashioned.’
“I take that as a compliment.”
Depending upon the year, Highland generally has 45 to 55 players filling varsity, junior varsity and freshmen rosters.
That means about 16 to 18 with the varsity. Sometimes they rotate on road trips because of the capacity of activity buses.
“Our kids are good about knowing their roles,” says Bogner, who keeps his bench players active with scorebooks and spray charts and as bullpen catchers etc. “Highland’s always had really good kids. It’s made my job easier.”
This year, 22 sophomores indicated their interest in playing baseball for the Royal Blue and Gold.
The 2019 coaching staff will have Matt Bugajski and Bryan Gordon assisting with the varsity and Sam Michel leading the junior varsity. Volunteers at the JV and freshmen levels are Brian Lukich, Nik Mason and Will Kerber. A head freshmen coach is being sought.
“This gives us some flexibility for practice times,” says Bogner. “And we can now host a sectional at the high school.”
Highland is in an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with East Chicago Central, Hammond Morton, Lake Central, Lowell and Munster, the host for many years. The Trojans last won a sectional title in 2000.
Besides Highland and Andrean, the Northwest Crossroads Conference includes Hobart, Kankakee Valley, Lowell and Munster. The loop plays 10 games with home-and-home series on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Bogner’s high school program is fed by Highland Little League and Highland Babe Ruth. He estimates about a third of his players play travel baseball.
“You have to play int he summer to beat schools like Lake Central and Munster,” says Bogner.
The 2019 season will mark the third that the IHSAA has 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).
“We’ve adapted to it,” says Bogner. “We were never guilty of blowing kids’ arms out (when the rule was 10 innings every three days). We used a lot of common sense.”
Bogner says he recently sent a letter to IHSBCA leadership lamenting that there are coaches out there that don’t show common sense with their pitches.
“You have to trust that your coach knows what’s going on and looks out for you,” says Bogner.
Prior to the rule and even since it has been put in place, Bogner has built up his pitchers arms in the winter. He has them working on pitch sequences and pitch-outs.
“By the end end of February bullpens, our goal is to be up to 80 pitches,” says Bogner. “But I don’t want my guys touching a baseball in December as far as throwing goes. You need to rest.”
This fall, the Trojans that were available to practice took part in a long toss program then players broke into positions. Bogner was coaching football, so practices were usually held late.
“He taught us a lot about the game and its nuances,” says Bogner. “He wanted us to play with class. ‘Don’t play bush league’ was something he often said. He was a very good coach. I don’t know if I’d be where I am without him.”
Anderson did not want his players focusing on their statistics.
“He’d say, ‘play the game right and the rest will take care of itself,” says Bogner, who went on to play two seasons as a catcher and designated hitter at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Mich.
Bogner recalls playing catch with Roadrunners coach Courtney Jasiak at the family cabin on Gravel Lake in Lawton, Mich., before committing to the school.
Jasiak had coached future big league star Derek Jeter at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central High School.
“I was like a sponge with that guy,” says Bogner of Jasiak. “He made me into a technician.”
Purdue University Calumet (now part of Purdue University Northwest) did not have a baseball team when Bogner went there to finish his degree.
Bogner did his student teaching at Calumet High School, where baseball head coach Woody Feeler (who had been his American Legion coach when he was in high school) let him run the show.
“It was like I was an associate head coach,” says Bogner. “I was neck deep.”
In the fall of 1996, he was hired at Highland and has been there ever since.
John is the middle son of Hammond (Ind.) Bishop Noll Institute and Purdue University graduate Jack Bogner and Pam Schuhrke (her husband is Jim). Older brother Jeff lives in St. Louis and younger brother James is in Merrillville, Ind.
Married for 19 years, John and Mandy Bogner have two sons. Justin Bogner is a junior football, wrestling and baseball athlete at Highland. Jason Bogner is a Highland Middle School grader who plays football, basketball and baseball.
John and Mandy Bogner have been married for 19 years. John is the head baseball coach at Highland (Ind.) High School. He also teaches math and coaches football and wrestling.
John Bogner (left) and oldest son Justin Bogner share a moment on the football field as assistant coach and player. John Bogner is head baseball coach and Justin Bogner a player for Highland (Ind.) High School’s baseball program.
Jason Bogner is the youngest son of John and Mandy Bogner. His father is head baseball coach at Highland (Ind.) High School. Jason is a seventh grader who plays football, basketball and baseball.
John Bogner is entering his 23rd season as a coach in the Highland (Ind.) High School baseball program — the sixth as head coach — in 2019.