Corey Van Skyock, who was officially named head baseball coach at Centerville (Ind.) Senior High School Sept. 28, was an assistant to John Cate at Richmond back in the early 1990’s. Cate went into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1997 and the RHS Coaches Hall of Fame in 2018. His baseball teams won 285 games, 12 sectionals and eight regionals and made a pair of Final Four appearances during two different stints from 1986-2008. “Most of my coaching styles and beliefs come from Coach Cate,” says Van Skyock, who held his first team call-out meeting Sept. 30. “Work hard. Period. Prepare. “The more that you can prepare and work hard the simpler games become.” Cate also taught his players about field maintenance and Van Skyock plans to pass those lessons along at Centerville. Van Skyock went from Richmond to a three-year stint as New Castle head coach. Two of his Trojans — Wes Ireton (Miami of Ohio) and Ben Smith (Indiana State) — went on to pitch at the NCAA Division I level. Van Skyock, who earned a Secondary Education/English at Indiana University in Bloomington, spent 19 years as a teacher and/or administrator. Later on, he coached at the youth and travel levels. Corey and wife Christy Van Skyock — a financial services/insurance sales veteran — have three sons — Oran, Gaven and Arian. Oran Van Skyock (Class of the 2019) and Gaven Van Skyock (Class of 2021) played baseball at Centerville. Arian Van Skyock (Class of 2026) is planning to take the diamond for the Bulldogs. Centerville — led for 10 seasons by Tracey Crull — is coming off a 2022 season in which the Bulldogs were 21-6 and IHSAA Class 2A state runners-up. Illiana Christian beat Centerville in the championship game. Eight of the players playing for the Bulldogs that day were seniors — Logan Drook, Kasen Duncan, Devin Frazier, Jamari Pamplin, Javontae Pamplin, Bryce Robertson, Keegan Schlotterbeck and Zach Thompson. Juniors included Collin Clark, Jacob Crowe and Alex Wandersee plus sophomores Kollyn Peed and Colton Rinehart. Centerville (enrollment around 550) is a member of the Tri-Eastern Conference (with Cambridge City Lincoln, Hagerstown, Knightstown, Northeastern, Tri, Union City, Union County and Winchester). The Bulldogs were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2022 with Hagerstown, Northeastern, Shenandoah and Union County. Including 2021 and 2022, Centerville has won nine sectional titles. Van Skyock says Wandersee is committed to Vincennes (Ind.) University and Clark and Crowe are college baseball hopefuls. He plans to meet with parents and players to ask the question “what does your future entail and how can I help you get there?” There will be work, but enjoyment is also the goal. “You may not play baseball in college, but you’ve got to be able to look back and say ‘gosh, that was fun!,” says Van Skyock. As a newly-minted head coach, Van Skyock has to have his assistant coaches approved before announcing his staff. He has also reached out to the leadership at Centerville Youth League, which serves as a feeder system to his program. He helped coach a team with his youngest son this past season. Van Skyock is a 1987 graduate of Union City (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School, where he played baseball for four years. Kevin Lehman was the Indians head coach. By throwing strikeouts and eliminating errors, Lehman saw the key to diamond success. “The game’s a lot of simpler than people want to make it,” says Van Skyock. “Eliminate advantages that you give to the opponent and it makes the game a lot simpler.”
Doing all the homework while building and maintaining relationships and trust leading up to the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and beyond. That’s what it’s all about for a scout tied to an MLB organization. Indiana native Trevor Haley knows. January 2022 will mark his 14th year scouting for the Pittsburgh Pirates. “We have to finish the play on every player we want to select,” says Haley, who was an area scout before becoming a regional supervisor. “The player has to be who we’ve advertised them to do be. “You’re investing money and draft capital on these players. You need to know if they’re ready. Are they a good fit for your organization?” The MLB Draft — now 20 rounds over three days at the All-Star Break — is the potential finish line of talent identified by scouts and the other 362 days are the race. For an area supervisor, a big part of the job is helping players and their families through the process. Jameson Taillon, a 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher with the New York Yankees, was signed to a Pirates contract by Haley. “Cultivating and getting to know Jameson and his father Mike that’s a big part of it,” says Haley. “Jameson has overcome a lot of adversity (including testicular cancer surgery during his second MLB season with Pittsburgh in 2017). I couldn’t be prouder of the man he’s become. “It is a business, but at the core of it are the relationships. Area scouts are listed as the signing scouts, but it’s definitely a collaboration and a team effort.” Haley recently moved to South Bend, Ind. His current territory is essentially the middle third of the country. Born in Valparaiso, Ind., Haley was just starting school when he moved to Richmond, Ind. As a Richmond High School Red Devil, the lefty-swinging first baseman played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer John Cate and graduated in 1996. “He’ll coach you hard, but love you afterward,” says Haley of Cate. “He cared about his players. He cared about winning. He cared about the program. We had some pretty good teams (Richmond won four sectionals, three regionals and two semistates, was twice at State Finals semifinalist and was at or near the top of the state rankings from 1993-96). “I learned to take pride in how I represented myself on and off the field and take pride in the uniform and the team.” Haley compares the experience to what he expects it might be like to play for former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight. “It’s hard going through it but, looking back, you wouldn’t trade it for anything,” says Haley of his time with Cate. At Manchester College (now Manchester University) in North Manchester, Ind., Haley’s freshmen year was the first for Rick Espeset as Spartans head coach. “(Espeset) had a completely different style than Coach Cate, who was an expressive motivator,” says Haley. “Espy was much more cerebral in his motivation. He was understated. He was a great team builder.” Haley received a Business Administration degree from Manchester then was an assistant coach for two years on the staff of Grizzlies head coach Lance Marshall at Franklin (Ind.) College. After a year away from baseball traveling the county working in event marketing, Haley to Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee and received a J.D.Sports Law Certificate in 2006. The goal had always been to build his resume and open doors in the baseball world. “That was always my passion,” says Haley. “I took the time to write all the letters and send them out and go though the networking process.” He landed a baseball operations internship with the 2007 Colorado Rockies. That was the year the team went into the World Series on an improbable 21-1 run that became known as “Rocktober.” “In my opinion it’s one of the most not-talked-about runs in the history of sports,” says Haley. Through the Rockies, Haley was able to attend scout school for a chance to enter a limited field. All in all, there are not that many scouts in pro baseball. “It’s a very insular industry,” says Haley, who got his foot in the door and has been with the Pirates since 2008. Haley was an area scout in south Texas from 2009-14 before moving back north as an area scout in the Midwest, western Pennsylvania and eastern Canada in 2015 and became a regional supervisor in 2016.
As a Lancers assistant, Love is in charge of outfielders and base runners and assists head coach Ryan Roth with hitters. Roth works with pitchers and infielders. Assistant Ryan Moore handles catchers. Graduate intern Josh Thew is also on the coaching staff. Tom Roy is a special assistant to head coach.
“I want my outfielders to be aggressive and to understand the game,” says Love, 45. “I want them watching hitters and understanding what pitchers are trying to do to hitters.
By doing this, the outfielders have a good idea of where the ball might go.
“Outfielders very aware of what’s coming (in terms of pitch type and location),” says Love, who leads drills for tracking and footwork.
At this time of year, much of the work is done indoors. But the Lancers will bundle up and go outside if the weather allows.
“It’s definitely a challenge being an outfielder in northern Indiana,” says Love, who sometimes uses a light in the gym to simulate tracking a ball in the sun.
Love knows that coming from high school baseball, some of his runners are aggressive and some are timid.
He teaches them about getting a good lead-off without getting picked off. He wants them to know what the pitcher and catcher are trying do.
What made Love a good base stealer when he was playing?
“It comes down to confidence and feeling comfortable,” says Love, who instructs his Grace runners in the proper footwork and the mental side of the running game — what pitches and situations are best for stealing.
Love has his runners get a feel for how much time it will take them to get from first to second or second to third once the pitch crosses home plate. Then they calculate the pitcher’s delivery and the catcher’s Pop Time — the time elapsed from the moment the pitch hits the catcher’s mitt to the moment it reaches the intended fielder.
For Lancer hitters, Love and Roth go over the mental approach and the mechanical side. It comes down to hitting balls hard as often as possible and having gap-to-gap power.
Grace, an NAIA school, is scheduled to open the 2021 season Feb. 19 against Trinity Christian University at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.
Love was a standout outfielder at Northridge High School in Middlebury, Ind., and Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., where he graduated in 1998. He also spent the summer of 1998 with the independent professional Richmond (Ind.) Roosters then began his business management career while also coaching football (three years) and baseball at WCHS — first on the staff of Will Shepherd and then Mike Hepler.
A 1994 Northridge graduate, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Love earned three letters each in football for Dennis Sienicki, basketball for Tom Crews and baseball for Rollie Schultz and Mike Logan.
Love, who is in the Elkhart County Sports Hall of Fame, was a three-time all-Northern Lakes Conference performer in football as well as an IHSAA Class 3A all-stater and team MVP in 1993. He set school records for receiving yards, receptions, interceptions and scoring and was chosen for the Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South All-Star Game.
He helped Northridge to a basketball sectional title in 1993 — the Raiders’ first since 1975 — and was all-sectional and a team captain and defensive player of the year in 1994.
On the diamond, Love was a two-time all-NLC honoree and was all-state, all-regional and all-sectional as well as team MVP and captain in 1994. He set school records for stolen bases, runs, walks and triples.
Love considered a few offers to play football in college before setting on Ball State University for baseball. He played one season with Pat Quinn as Cardinals head coach and three with Rich Maloney in charge.
A four-year starter at Ball State, Love set a single-season stolen base record in 1997 with 44, leading the Mid-American Conference and helping him earn a spot on the all-MAC team. Overall his junior year, he hit .346 with 71 hits and 67 runs in 59 games.
As a senior in 1998, Love swiped 30 stolen bases to rank second in the MAC. The first-team all-MAC selection led the conference with 62 runs scored and was sixth with 120 total bases and 10th with nine home runs. He batted .344 in 57 games.
Love gives a nod to all his coaches — high school, college and pro.
“I appreciate every one of them — the time they put in to help me with my dreams and aspirations,” says Love. “They were passionate for the sport they coached.
“Pat (Quinn) was pretty direct. He knew the game. He had a fiery spirit to him. Rich (Maloney) was very intense, very knowledgable and very caring also.”
Justin and wife Rosemary have three children — Kendra (18), Jordan (16) and Spencer (12). Kendra Love is a senior volleyball and track athlete at Warsaw. Jordan Love is a sophomore soccer player and trackster. Seventh grader Spencer Love is involved with football, wrestling, track and baseball.
Ratcliffe had helped Thunder head coach Greg Perschke during the 2012 and 2013 seasons and assisted in school-record 25-win seasons then went back to the high school ranks before coming back on board in Angola, Ind., for 2020.
Trine, an NCAA Division III school with a 40-game regular-season limit, averaged 17 wins per year from 2014-19 with high-water marks of 19 in 2017 and 2018.
That was not considered good enough.
So the Thunder went to work in the fall.
“We have our limits when we can and can’t be with them,” says Ratcliffe referring to NCAA D-III contact rules. “But there are expectations from Coach Perschke. His passion for the kids is electric. It just gets everybody.
“There’s an off-season weight program. Kids work around their academics to get a workout in.”
The message is clear: If you want the team to get better, this is what has to happen. Here’s how you do it. Do you want to be a part of that?
At a school full of engineering students and others with rigorous majors, the find a way to get the job done.
“We give them a lot of instruction during our weeks,” says Ratcliffe. “They take this and work hard in the off-season.”
Brought in to help with catchers, infielders and hitters and be a bench coach during games, Ratcliffe says there’s a difference between high school and college that has do with more than age.
“Kids at the college level want to be there instead of doing something in high school,” says Ratcliffe. “Development is extremely different. In high school, you’re developing their skills. In college, you’re fine-tuning their skills.”
Through conversations and short videos, Perschke (Trine head coach since 2002 and the Thunder’s pitching coach) and assistants Ratcliffe and Nick Pfafman provided instruction for a month and then the team’s veterans led a few more weeks of workouts heading into the winter.
“We developed a mindset of how to react and respond to things,” says Ratcliffe. “It’s one of the things I was brought in for.”
When the team came back from Christmas break it had less than a month before its first games.
Trine went 1-2 Feb. 22-23 in Kentucky then 8-0 March 1-6 in Florida.
Then — suddenly — the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Thunder gathered for an impromptu team photo after a practice and said their goodbyes.
This summer, Ratcliffe is head coach for the 17U DeKalb County Thunder travel team. His assistant is Cody Krumlauf, a graduate of DeKalb High School and Earlham College who has been a player and coach for the Quakers.
The program was started a few years ago when the players were at the 15U level. The Thunder now also fields 15U and 13U teams.
To be eligible to play for the Thunder, players must play in community baseball organizations in Auburn, Butler, Garrett or St. Joe.
While with the Spartans, Ratcliffe got to work with future big league catcher Rob Bowen.
“I remember he was a starter working on being a switch hitter,” says Ratcliffe. “If he hit 50 balls off the tee right-handed, he had to hit 50 left-handed. Balance had to be there if h was serious about being a switch hitter.”
Ratcliffe recalls that Bowen hit homers from both sides of the plate early in his minor league days and went on to play in the majors with the Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics.
Caleb Kimmel, who went on to play at Valparaiso University and is now CEO of the World Baseball Academy, was also at Homestead when Ratcliffe was on staff.
“(Moustakas) had the same kind of energy as a 17-year-old that he did (with the Kansas City Royals) in the World Series.
“That guy has not changed one bit. He’s such a team player.”
Freeman became of Ratcliffe’s favorites.
“His character in the dugout was unbelievable,” says Ratcliffe of the future Atlanta Braves first baseman. “He was very coachable. Freddie wanted to get better.
“I’ve told my players this is what you need to be like. It’s not all about baseball. Character is very crucial.”
Trout and Bauer are superstars now. But they didn’t make the national team back then. They didn’t sulk. They put in the work to get better.
The Uptons also failed, but learned from those around them and rebounded. Justin’s path to The Show included 113 games with the 2006 Mark Haley-managed South Bend (Ind.) Silver Hawks during his 18-year-old season.
While they were nearly two decades apart, Ratcliffe (Class of 1990) and Parker (2007) were both graduates of Norwell High School in Ossian, Ind.
Ratcliffe had coached against right-handed pitcher Parker in high school and saw him help Norwell to an IHSAA 3A state championship in 2007.
When it came time for Parker to take the mound that summer Joplin, Ratcliffe offered a little advice: “Go be yourself.”
Parker went on to work out with the Top 40 players in Atlanta and was selected in the first round (No.9 overall) of the 2007 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and pitched in the bigs for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics. David Price and Moustakas went 1-2 in the ’07 draft.
Ratcliffe’s head coach at Norwell was Stan Reed.
“He had compassion for the players,” says Ratcliffe. “He really cared about us. It showed whether we won or lost.”
A catcher, Ratcliffe went to Purdue University and was redshirted his first season and played sparingly for Boilermakers coach Dave Alexander in his second, though he did get to catch Sherard Clinkscales, a right-handed pitcher who was selected in the first round of the 1992 MLB Draft, later scouted for Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Kansas City and coached at Notre Dame before going into athletic administration.
When Alexander left Purdue to become a scout and pitching coach Steve Green was promoted to head coach, he had a chat with Ratcliffe. It was apparent he was not going to get to play much for the Boilers.
What did Ratcliffe learn from Norwell grad Kinzer during the 1993 and 1994 seasons?
“It takes a lot of hard work to get to that level,” says Ratcliffe. “If you want to get there you’ve got to put some time in.
“Talent doesn’t get you to the next level. It takes things like working hard and having good character.”
By the time Tom Muth took over at IPFW in 1995, Ratcliffe knew he wanted to be a coach so he took the opportunity to play multiple positions and learn their nuances. Since the Dons were in need of a second baseman, Ratcliffe moved there and still took time to catch bullpens.
Ratcliffe played independent professional ball as a middle infielder for the Frontier League’s Richmond (Ind.) Roosters in their inaugural season of 1995. Larry Nowlin was the manger and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer John Cate part owner.
One of his teammates was future major league switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter Morgan Burkhart. When he came to Fort Wayne as a member of the San Diego Padres coaching staff, Ratcliffe made sure he found a good fishing hole.
After finishing his degree at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ratcliffe became a teacher.
Besides coaching baseball, he instructs special education classes at Garrett Middle School. His wife of 19 years — Stacy — is a kindergarten teacher at J.E. Ober Elementary in Garrett. The couple have two sons — GHS senior-to-be Blake (17) and GMS eighth grader-to-be Easton (13).
“As a Class A school, we focus on individuals striving to be consistent and the best they can be,” says Kinnison, who has led the Braves since the 2009 season and knows he has some players who see high school as the end of their baseball careers and others who want more. “We push some to where they want to go.”
Baseball is a team sport, but Kinnison sees it as an opportunity to “play against yourself.”
Individuals find what they can do and how they fit into the puzzle and push themselves — even when no one is watching.
“The game should be easy,” says Kinnison. “Practice should be hard. It’s human nature to only do as much as someone would push you to do.
“We want the best version of you on the ball field. Give me 100 percent of what you have today.
“You’re responsible for what you do. At the end of the day, results are bases on the work you put in.”
Kinnison encourages his players to study the game and the opponent.
“Figure out a weakness and exploit it,” says Kinnison. “If you’re fast, steal bases.
“I don’t think kids think the game as much as they could. They just play.”
College-bound players, especially, will be served by understanding the game.”
“We give as much information as we have as a staff,” says Kinnison, who is assisted by Matt Harmon (the Harmon brothers — Mark, Matt and Jake — were involved in bringing state titles to Blackhawk in 2002, 2005 and 2006), Brice Urschel, Nick Braun and Ryan Davis. Harmon and Braun are BCS teachers. Urschel played for Kinnison then at Huntington (Ind.) University.
Some things become instinctual.
“We don’t use signs very much,” says Kinnison. “We take what they’re giving us.”
Kinnison, who was assistant director of construction for a retail investment company in Cincinnati and came back to Fort Wayne on the weekends, was encouraged to apply for the Blackhawk Christian job by Kinzer.
Blackhawk Christian (enrollment around 240 for high school in the K-12 system) is an independent.
Athletic director Joel Cotton makes up the schedule with some input from the coach.
“I didn’t want a bunch of 1A schools on it,” says Kinnison. “I would rather take our lumps (and get better against tougher competition).
“It’s about taking pride in performing. The team that is able to relax and play their normal game can beat you.”
Since Kinnison has been in charge, there has only been a varsity team with about 18 to 20 players per season. For 2020, he expects to have two seniors, two juniors and seven or eight sophomores.
As a way of supporting the school, all players help with a program established in 2011 by BCS Foundation, Inc., called reNEW Upscale Resale.
The Braves part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Bethany Christian, Elkhart Christian Academy, Fort Wayne Canterbury, Fremont, Hamilton and Lakewood Park Christian. Blackhawk has won 14 sectional titles — the last in 2017.
Blackhawk Christian played only a handful of games on-campus in 2019 because of wet conditions. The rest of their home dates were contested on the turf at the ASH Centre, home of the World Baseball Academy.
Kevin and Annette Kinnison have three daughters — Taylor, Kenzie and Karlee. Taylor is 22. Eighth grader Kenzie and sixth grader Karlee have attended Blackhawk since they were in kindergarten. Kevin is co-owner of Blue Apple Construction.
Kevin Kinnison has been the head baseball coach at Blackhawk Christian School in Fort Wayne, Ind., since the 2009 season. He played at Fort Wayne Snider High School, Garden City (Kan.) Community College and Huntington (Ind.) College (now Huntington University). (Steve Krah Photo)
“We focus on the details,” says Turner, a veteran coach who heads into his fourth season of leading the Richmond program in 2019. “We want give it our best effort 100 percent of the time. We pay attention to the defensive side and how we’re pitching.
“Offensively, we look to ‘get on, get over and get in.’ We play at a big facility (Don McBride Stadium). We don’t sit back and wait on the three-run home run.”
Turner looks for his Red Devils to hit balls to the gaps and rack up doubles.
“We teach the concept of using the whole field,” says Turner.
When it comes to launch angle, Turner says it is for the advanced hitter. T.J. Collett, who began working with Turner at a young age, put in the time to make himself into a potent left-handed hitter who named Mr. Baseball by Hoosier Diamond Magazine in 2016 and is now swinging for the University of Kentucky.
“It’s fantastic for kids with elite talent who have great hitting philosophy and the ability to execute it,” says Turner. “I’m more concerned with hitting a solid. Exit velocity is a factor. We do chart that. If you have four at-bats, we try to hit it hard four times and see what happens.”
Contact is key and strikeouts don’t help in moving runners.
“We do try to put pressure on the defense and put the ball in play,” says Turner, who coached his first season in Richmond in 2016 after serving as a Wabash College assistant in 2015.
He was a McCutcheon assistant in 1994 and 1995, West Vigo assistantin 1993 and Terre Haute North Vigo assistant in 1990, 1991 and 1992.
Turner played two seasons for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Don Jennings and two for Steve Moore. He later was a part of Moore’s coaching staff.
“(Jennings) was always a very positive influence not only on me but on his coaches and the team as a whole,” says Turner. “In practice, we did a ton of offensive work. If we put runs up we had a chance of competing.
“(Moore) carried on a lot of Coach Jennings’ traits. My first couple of years coaching within were a continuation of what I learned in high school.”
Turner also gained from the teachings of North Vigo assistant Mike Sturm.
“He was more into fundamental skills and defensive work,” says Turner of Sturm. “He broke things into positions and individual parts.”
“(Rendel) had the biggest influence on me becoming a coach,” says Turner. “He was an amazing individual that did so much for people through sport.”
Turner decided to change gears and pursue a different life path. He transferred to Indiana State University to major in mathematics and become a teacher and coach.
He did his student teaching at West Vigo and worked with Steve DeGroote then joined the staff of Jake Burton at McCutcheon. Both are IHSBCA Hall of Famers.
“Those two were cut from the same cloth,” says Turner of DeGroote and Burton. “They were Fantastic at setting up indoor practices where you were going from station to station and maximizing your practice time.”
Turner notes that there are areas around the state have embraced the idea of getting better at baseball and that’s where indoor facilities have popped up and produced many players who have succeeded at the lower levels and gone on to college and professional diamonds.
“We’ve got baseball talent in the state of Indiana,” says Turner, who gets indoor work done at Richmond at the spacious Tiernan Center and the school’s auxiliary gym.
While McBride Stadium is run by the city and is off-campus, the Red Devils sometimes take advantage of the turf on the football field for outdoor practice.
Turner gives a few private lessons on the side. Several Richmond players get in work at Cate’s Cages and Hitters Hangout. IHSBCA Hall of Famer John Cate started both facilities. He now teaches at Cate’s Cages along with Jordan Ashbrook, Patrick Flanagan and Mike Morrow. Tyler Lairson is an instructor at Hitters Hangout.
Current senior outfielder/right-hander Josiah Sizemore has committed to Ivy Tech Northeast in Fort Wayne, Ind. Versatile Phillip Hobbs and right-hander/third baseman/shortstop Mikey Vance are also exploring their collegiate options.
When building his Red Devils pitching staff, Turner looks to develop a number of arms to lesson the workload on the top hurlers so they will be fresher for the postseason.
The exception might be Blake Holler, who threw many innings for Terre Haute North Vigo before going on to Stanford University and the Los Angeles Angels system.
But sharing the work has been a philosophy Turner carried in Terre Haute and long before 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).
“We focus on longevity,” says Turner. “The season is a marathon and not a sprint. I’ve always make sure our top two or three pitchers are strong at the end of the season. We might go eight-, nine- or 10-deep during the season.”
This approach also helps those pitchers to be ready the following season.
Turner’s 2019 Richmond staff includes Dave Marker, Scott Vance and Ben Fox. Marker is the Red Devils pitching coach and a former Randolph Southern head coach.
Richmond fields two teams — varsity and junior varsity. The most players Turner has had is 33 and he’s never made any cuts.
Contrast that with Terre Haute North Vigo, where he says the fewest number to try out was 80 and he’d keep 50 to 55 for three teams.
Richmond belongs to the North Central Conference (with Richmond, Anderson, Arsenal Tech, Marion and Muncie Central in the East Division and Harrison, Kokomo, Lafayette Jeff, Logansport and McCutcheon in the West Division). Teams play home-and-home series within their divisions then compete in a seeded cross-divisional tournament the two Saturdays in May.
The Red Devils, which are coming off a 14-14 season in 2018, are in an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Anderson, Connersville, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon (Fortville), Muncie Central and Pendleton Heights.
Richmond has won 29 sectional titles — the last coming in 2011.
Shawn is married to Tiffany, who is Chief Nursing Officer at Paris (Ill.) Community Hospital. Their sons are Austin and Nick. Besides playing baseball, Austin Turner is neurology student at Indiana Wesleyan. Nick is a Richmond freshmen and a lefty-swinging catcher.
The Turners (from left): Nick, Tiffany, Austin and Shawn. The 2016 season was Shawn Turner’s first as head baseball coach at Richmond (Ind.) High School.
Austin Turner (27) is greeted by Terre Haute North Vigo baseball coaches Mark Sturm (left), Tony Smodilla, Lance Walsh, Steve Bryant, Fay Spetter and Shawn Turner at the IHSAA Class 4A State Finals at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Shawn Turner is now head coach at Richmond (Ind.) High School.
Terre Haute North Vigo High School head baseball coach Shawn Turner (left) talks with his son, Austin Turner (27), and assistant Fay Spetter during the 2014 IHSAA Class 4A semistate.
Shawn Turner enters his fourth season as head baseball coach at Richmond (Ind.) High School in 2019.
Since the 1985 season, Bischoff has been the top diamond dog.
Taking lessons learned from some of Indiana’s top high school baseball minds, Bischoff has been successful enough at this East Allen County institution that he has been directing those commands at a facility renamed in 2009 as Bischoff Field.
“It should probably be named for my wife for putting up with us all these years,” says Dave, referring to Kristen, whom he married in the fall of 1984, himself and the two sons who played for him — Matt and Kyle (both who went on to play at Purdue University for Doug Schreiber). Matt is now his father’s pitching coach. “Matt says he’s my consultant. With that title, he can offer free advice at all times. He chose the job description.”
The current New Haven coaching staff also features former Bulldog players Mike Snyder and Brandon Pease and former Fort Wayne Concordia High School head coach Beach Harmon. The New Haven pitching record book is full of entries with Brandon Pease and Matt Bischoff.
It was also Matt who sent out a survey a few years ago to 100 of his father’s former New Haven players. The response was tremendous and some of them even focused on baseball.
The 2017 season will be Dave Bischoff’s 33rd season at New Haven. In the previous 32, the Bulldogs have won 586 games, 10 sectionals and three regionals while making three IHSAA Final Four appearances and taking four titles in a traditionally baseball-rich conference, which has morphed from the Northeastern Indiana Athletic Conference to the Northeast Eight Conference.
Bischoff Field, which will be sectional host site in ’17, has been upgraded over the years with a covered grandstand behind home plate, wooden walls in the power alleys and a wind screen in center field.
The veteran coach, inducted by his peers in 2014 to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, is proud that he has sent more than 50 players on to college and two — son Matt as well as Dave Doster (who played two seasons in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies) — went on to professional ball. Around two dozen have gone on to coach at the high school level with a few coaching in college.
Dave Bischoff gets even more satisfaction knowing that the life lessons he was passing along as a leader and mentor — be on time, bring your best, show up — were absorbed by young men who went on to be successful husbands, fathers and business owners. There’s even been an FBI agent or two.
Baseball began for Bischoff in Adams County. Back in the 1960’s, Little League baseball meant a city league in Decatur and a country league in Monmouth. Young Dave played in the latter.
He also played in a plenty of non-organized games while making his way up through Pony League (teams were based in Decatur, Burns, Geneva and Monroe) with hopes of playing or Bellmont High School on the corner of Adams and 13th at Worthman Field.
“It’s probably over-stated, but we played a lot and were coached little,” says Bischoff of his formative baseball days. “We played a lot of pick-up games. We learned by trial and error. To get better, you had to make adjustments.”
By the time Bischoff reached high school, there were 30 freshmen — or about 20 percent of the boys in the class — trying out for baseball.
Dave was cut that first year.
Determined, he played baseball in Convoy, Ohio and fast pitch softball in a local church league.
“Playing fast pitch softball against men, you learn a lot that way,” says Dave. Bischoff’s reputation for bunting and slashing teams at New Haven stem from all the fast-pitch softball he pitched in high school and college.
As a sophomore, Bischoff made the baseball team at Bellmont, where he graduated in 1975.
After that, he got a chance to play college baseball at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, then an NCAA Division III program. He chose the school because it was close, the price was right, it afforded him a chance to play.
A history buff, Bischoff gravitated toward becoming a social studies teacher (he’s taught history and English since the fall of 1982) and he’d decided coaching was also for him.
While still in college, Bischoff began coaching Little Leaguers and was given a chance to coach Bellmont’s summer program by new Braves head coach John Cate.
“In a sense, he gave me my first shot,” says Bischoff of Cate. “John impressed upon me the organizational skills to put together a program. He did things first class. It was evident kids bought into what he was doing.
“I understood real quick those are the things you have to do if you’re going to be successful.”
Cate took Bischoff to his first IHSBCA State Clinic in 1980 and that’s where he first met Purdue University coach Dave Alexander, who is also an IHSBCA Hall of Famer. The clinic would become an annual ritual and Bischoff would get to travel to and from Indianapolis with Hall of Famers like Bill Jones (DeKalb), Don Sherman (Huntington North) and Chris Stavreti (Fort Wayne Northrop).
“It was like a got three clinics,” says Bischoff of his northeast Indiana-based travel companions. “They were great coaches and mentors. They would share anything with you.”
For two years after college, Bischoff served as a substitute teacher in East Allen County Schools and a baseball assistant to New Haven head coach and IHSBCA charter member Don Hummel before taking a full-time teaching position and baseball assistant job for two more years at Norwell Hugh School.
When Bischoff was established at New Haven and Jones stopped hosting his own coaches clinic at DeKalb, he encouraged the young coach to start one of his own. Jones hooked him up with Hall of Famers Ken Schreiber (LaPorte) and Jim Reinebold (South Bend Clay) as clinicians.
“I got to know those guys right away,” says Bischoff. “I feel fortunate that from a very early age I was being mentored by the founding fathers of the association. Those guys are professionals, organizers and icons. There are real good guys when it came to helping out a young coach.”
Bischoff was an IHSBCA district representative for 10 years and was the organization’s president in 2005-06.
The Bischoffs (from left): Dave, Kristen, Matt, Casey (Kyle’s wife) and Kyle. (Family Photo Supplied)