By STEVE KRAH
Numbers might be low, but baseball spirit is high at Orleans (Ind.) High School.
The Bulldogs won an IHSAA Class 1A West Washington Sectional championship in 2018 and senior Duncan Gerkin was honored as an all-state catcher.
In 2015, Orleans went 26-6 and produced three all-state players — senior second baseman Burton Gerkin, senior first baseman Cale Hall and senior outfielder Jason Mosson. Other recent first-team all-staters include junior outfielder Steven Phillips in 2014 and junior shortstop Terry Bradley in 2012.
Jeremy Bye was an assistant to Mark Wheeler for 10 years then took over the Bulldogs program for the 2016 season.
“I had no intention of ever coaching high school baseball,” says Bye. “But as the cards were dealt, I came to love it.
“I’m very fortunate to spend 10 years under a tremendous coach and motivator and learn from him.”
Bye heads into 2019 with 13 players in the program. For the for the first time since he has been in the program, Orleans does not plan to field a junior varsity team.
Off-season workouts have drawn five boys. These twice-a-week sessions include 45 minutes of throwing and 45 minutes of running or weightlifting.
The other baseball players are busy with basketball.
“In southern Indiana, basketball is king,” says Bye.
Basketball the winter sport for boys at Orleans. Cross country is offered in the fall with baseball, track and golf in the spring. There is no football and some potential students go to nearby schools that do have football.
With an enrollment around 225, Orleans is the member in the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference, which also feature Crawford County, Mitchell, Paoli, Perry Central, Spring Valley and West Washington.
PLAC teams play each other twice during the season in home-and-home series. Only the first meeting counts in the standings.
The Bulldogs are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Crothersville (enrollment around 100), Medora (50), Trinity Lutheran (150) and West Washington (280).
Orleans has won nine sectional titles, including four since 2006 (2006, 2014, 2015 and 2018). The Bulldogs won regional crowns in 2006 and 2015. The 2006 team bowed out to Hauser in the semifinals of the Avon Semistate. Eventual 1A state runner-up Shakamak bested Orleans 3-2 int he 2015 Plainfield Semistate.
Graduate Adam Poole was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 32nd round of the 2003 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, but did not sign. The left-handed pitcher played at Lincoln Trail College and Indiana University.
Platted in 1815, Orleans stands as the oldest town in Orange County. Founded two months after Andrew Jackson’s famous victory over the British at New Orleans, the settlers named their new town to honor this event.
For the third season, IHSAA teams will abide by 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 have always used a pitch count,” says Bye. “Our issues is having enough pitchers to play a 28-game schedule and be effective. It’s always been like that.
“Our better athletes are our pitchers and they are also shortstops, center fielders and third basemen. It’s harder to manage the other positions the kids have to play.”
While its not a school-sponsored sport, Orleans does have junior high baseball. Bye says 22 boys have signed up to play from April through early June. There will be 11 on the eighth grade squad with nine seventh graders and two sixth graders on the seventh grade team.
“The boys have to play,” says Bye. “It’s the only (baseball) avenue they have (from age 13 to high school).
The Orleans Baseball League is a recreation organization that starts with T-ball and goes through sixth grade.
Jeremy and Kristin Bye’s sons play both rec league and travel baseball — Breckin (10) with the Louisville-based Ironmen and Brayson (7) with the Southern Indiana Strikers of New Albany.
Orleans plays its home games on a lighted on-campus diamond. In recent years, the outfield fence has been raised and pushed back and dugouts have been replaced.
Bye mows the field himself and his players help line it and rake it.
“We’re our own field maintenance crew,” says Bye. “Everybody does their own spot. We take pride in it.”
Bye is a 1996 Paoli (Ind.) High School graduate. He played four years of baseball for the Rams — two for Tom Stuckwich and two for John Hahn. He earned a electronics technology degree at Indiana State University and works for Jasper Group in Orleans.
Orleans (Ind.) High School won an IHSAA Class 1A sectional baseball title in 2018. It was the third season as head coach for Jeremy Bye. He joined the program as an assistant in 2006.
The Byes (clockwise from left) — Jeremy, Kristin, Breckin and Brayson — celebrate a 2018 IHSAA Class 1A sectional baseball championship. Jeremy Bye has been a coach in the program since 2006 and head coach since 2016.