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Hardisty leads hard-nose Jennings County Panthers

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Taking many of his cues from his high school coach, Trent Hardisty heads into his fifth season guiding the baseball program at Jennings County High School in North Vernon, Ind., in 2021.

Hardisty, who joined the Panthers staff in the mid-2000’s after a stint at Eastern High School in Pekin, Ind., is a 1999 graduate of Martinsville (Ind.) High School and gained much from the direction of Bill Tutterow.

What did Hardisty learn about baseball from the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer?

“Just about everything,” says Hardisty. “He was huge on pitching and defense. Offensively, we were super aggressive.

“A lot of my coaching style stems from him.”

Right-handed pitcher Hardisty was IHSBCA Class 4A honorable mention all-state and represented the Artesians as an IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series alternate before going to the University of Southern Indiana. He tried out and made the team in the fall, but discovered it wasn’t the right fit for him.

Hardisty had been recruited by Lance Marshall at Franklin (Ind.) College and transferred to study Secondary Education and play for the Grizzlies.

“He’s just a terrific person,” says Hardisty of Marshall. “He was demanding on what he wanted done. 

“That’s one of the character traits that drew me to him.”

Hardisty was all-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference honorable mention in 2000 and 2002 and received his degree in 2003. 

Prior to taking the head coaching reins at Jennings County, Hardisty was a varsity assistant for five years under Gabe Lowman.

Hardisty’s current staff includes varsity helper Ryan Cummings and junior varsity coach Pete Manowitz.

Like the rest of Indiana, the Panthers missed out on a 2020 season became of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hardisty says about 10 players got in some serious summer baseball once the shutdown was over.

In the fall — when players finally got to experience the new turf on the home diamond — there was an emphasis.

“We did some hitting every once in awhile to keep sharp,” says Hardisty. “But we wanted them to learn how we want them to play defense.”

It’s a hard-nose, blue-collar attitude, where the highlight reel play is appreciated and the basic play is expected.

Not only does Jennings County have turf now, which will help deal with weather issues, the field has had lights for a number of years.

In 2021 winter workouts, Hardisty has been regularly working with 12 to 14 players with many others occupied with basketball.

“We’ve been doing a lot of throwing, trying to get the arms in-shape,” says Hardisty. “Next week will be the first time we touch the bat. We’re also start throwing bullpens.

“We want them to be an athlete, make accurate throws and hit (the receiver of the throw) in the chest.”

Hardisty expects to have around 30 players for varsity and junior varsity squads in the spring.

Jennings County (enrollment around 1,200) belongs to the Hoosier Hills Conference (with Bedford North Lawrence, Columbus East, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Madison Consolidated, New Albany and Seymour).

The HCC has an in-season tournament and each team usually plays one another at least one time.

The Panthers are in an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, New Albany and Seymour. Jennings County has won 11 sectionals — the last in 2006.

The high school program is fed by a Jennings County recreational league and by a travel ball organization called Panther Baseball.

Josh Pettit (Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio) is a recent JC players are on college baseball roster. Junior Jacob Vogel has been drawing interest at the next level.

Trent, an eighth grade physical education and health teacher and Jennings County Middle School, and wife Jennifer Hardisty reside in Franklin with son Tyler (12) and daughter Tenley (9). Tyler Hardisty is involved with football, basketball and baseball. Tenley Hardisty is a dancer.

Jennings County High School head baseball coach Trent Hardisty hangs with son Tyler.