Tag Archives: Justin Bultemeier

Ivy Tech Northeast looking toward playoffs in what is likely program’s final season


If 2023 truly is the final baseball season for Ivy Tech Northeast Community College — a two-year institution in Fort Wayne, Ind. — bitterness is not an emotion displayed by the Titans as they look to finish strong.
Ivy Tech Community College Board of Trustees voted 8-1 April 7, 2022 to discontinue athletics at the Northeast campus after 2022-23.
“At this point I’ve pretty much heard we’re done,” says Ivy Tech Northeast head coach Connor Wilkins, who was an assistant to Lance Hershberger when the program began in 2017-18. “I haven’t heard of anything miraculous happening.
“It’s not something we really talk about a lot. We’re just grateful for the team we have right now and getting to play out the rest of the year.”
Wilkins and his players are staying positive.
“I’ve got a good group of guys this year that buy into our identity,” says Wilkins. “They’re really trying to become great at what we teach as a baseball team — execution, bunt, steal, be selfless, an RBI approach with a guy at third, battle with two strikes and just try to do all the little things right.
“I’m very proud of the young men we’ve turned out.”
The Titans played their final “home” game at Shoaff Park Thursday, April 20 and beat Adrian JV 17-7.
With a sense of gratitude, the team heads into the final week of the regular season. Pending the hiring of umpires, Ivy Tech was to play Lourdes JV today (Monday, April 24) at World Baseball Academy in Fort Wayne. Away dates are slated Tuesday against Jackson (Mich.) Community College and Northwestern Ohio JV (doubleheader) Thursday. More games may be added for the weekend.
By maintaining a record of .500 or better against D-I and D-II junior colleges, the Titans have qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association D-II sub-regional playoffs May 4 at Sports Force Park in Sandusky, Ohio.
The four-team single-elimination event will also feature the No. 2, 3 and 4 teams from the Ohio Community College Athletic Association, likely Bryant & Stratton, Edison State and Lakeland or Clark State.
The winner advances to the eight-team regional. The first round is slated for May 11-12 features three-game series with No. 1 vs. No. 8, No. 2 vs. No. 7, No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.
The four survivors play May 18-20 in the double-elimination second round to determine a qualifier for the NJCAA D-II World Series May 27-June 2/3 in Enid, Okla.
The nature of junior college baseball is coaches working the phones to get athletes connected with their next school.
“It was heightened this year because you have to find freshmen homes, too,” says Wilkins. “We’re excited. Most of our sophomores who are undecided are very close to making decisions.”
Several Ivy Tech players have found a landing spot for 2023-24 and the others are considering their options and offers.
Redshirt sophomores Noah Mattheson and William Myklebust are committed to the University Northwestern Ohio (NAIA).
Among sophomore commits, there’s Gage Smith (NCAA Division I Southern Indiana), Grant Collins (NCAA D-II Purdue Northwest), Adam Besser (NAIA Indiana Tech) and Kaleb Fritz (NAIA Ottawa University in Arizona).
Wilkins says sophs Justin Bultemeier, Mannuk Cadiz, Zachary Green, Logan Greer, Brayden Dockery, William Johnson, Andrew Lion, Jaycob McCullough, Johnny Sewell, Aiden Thompson and Tarron White are undecided.
Freshmen Ivan Balboa and Max Shultz have indicated they will go to NJCAA South Suburban.
Other freshman commits are Kail Baughman (NAIA Calumet of St. Joseph), Brandon Lehman (NAIA Roosevelt) and Hayden Lowe (NJCAA Jackson).
Freshmen that are currently undecided include Samuel Dunlavey, Cal Ostrowski, Joey Spin, Nathan Tappenden and Brock Thornton.
Besides Wilkins, the Ivy Tech coaching staff includes pitching coach Javier DeJesus and infield coach Drew Buffenbarger.
DeJesus is also hospital administrator and instructor at The Diamond Baseball and Softball Academy in Fort Wayne.
Wilkins is a dual-credit advisor and Buffenbarger an admissions specialist at Ivy Tech Northeast.
Connor and wife Alana have two daughters — Rey (3) and Margot (9 months). The youngest was born just before baseball Ivy Tech activities began last fall.

Grant Collins (13) bats for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Tarron White steps to the plate for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Right-hander Gage Smith pitches for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Right-hander Adam Besser pitches for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Ivan Balboa (5) bats for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Justin Bultemeier (2) pitches to Zachary Green (12) for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Right-hander William Myklebust (14) pitches for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)
Kaleb Fritz (15) is on the bases for the 2023 Ivy Tech Northeast Titans. (Ivy Tech Northeast Photo)

Quite a game for UIndy’s Ware; IU Southeast’s White, Indiana’s Kraft shine


Hitting for a cycle (single, double, triple and home run in the same game) is a feat.
When you also pitch a no-hitter in that same contest that gets attention.
Such is the case for University of Indianapolis graduate student Brady Ware.
A left-handed batter and pitcher pulled off the rate accomplishment Friday, April 7 as the NCAA Division II Greyhounds bested visiting Drury 14-0 in the second game of a doubleheader.
Ware homered and tripled as part of an eight-run second inning, doubled in the third and singled in the fifth while driving in five runs and scoring two.
In seven no-hit innings, Ware struck out 11 and walked five while inducing seven fly-outs and two groundouts.

Among the state’s 39 college baseball programs, NAIA Indiana University Southeast junior Mason White has socked the most doubles so far in 2023 with 15.
The others with eight or more:
Jeremy Wiersema (Bethel) 14
Satchell Wilson (Huntington) 14
Trevor Campbell (IU Southeast) 13
Phillip Glasser (Indiana) 13
Kaleb Kolpien (Taylor) 13
Ryan Peltier (Ball State) 13
Garrett Causey (Oakland City) 12
Tyler Smitherman (Anderson) 12
T.J. Bass (Taylor) 11
Max Fries (Earlham) 11
Nathan Lancianese (Earlham) 11
A.J. Reid (Wabash) 11
Griffin Wolf (Anderson) 11
Kaleb Farnham (IU South Bend) 10
Jarrett Gray (Huntington) 10
Rocco Hanes (Manchester) 10
Chase Hug (Evansville) 10
Jenner Rodammer (Goshen) 10
Blake Bevis (Ball State) 9
Mason David (Taylor) 9
Kaden Elliott (Vincennes) 9
Colton Evans (Vincennes) 9
Kaleb Hannahs (Valparaiso) 9
Brendan Hord (Evansville) 9
Joel Kennedy (Manchester) 9
Christian Lancianese (Earlham) 9
Jack Leverenz (IU-Kokomo) 9
Hayden Lowe (Ivy Tech Northeast) 9
Michael Machnic (Calumet of St. Joseph) 9
Ian McCutcheon (Huntington) 9
Andrew Miranda (Bethel) 9
Nick Parsons (Saint Francis) 9
Tucker Platt (IU-Kokomo) 9
M.J. Stavola (Indiana Wesleyan) 9
Adam Tellier (Ball State) 9
Brock Tibbitts (Indiana) 9
Ben Berenda (IU Southeast) 8
Alex Christie (Hanover) 8
Drew Donaldson (Indianapolis) 8
Lucas Goodin (Indiana Wesleyan) 8
Luis Hernandez (Indiana State) 8
Carter Mathison (Indiana) 8
Sam Newkirk (Grace) 8
Liam Patton (Wabash) 8
Jeff Pawlik (Grace) 8
Luke Picchiotti (Taylor) 8
Zack Prajzner (Notre Dame) 8
Kody Putnam (IU Southeast) 8
Carter Putz (Notre Dame) 8
Camden Scheidt (Wabash) 8
Kyle Schmack (Valparaiso) 8
Logan Smith (IU South Bend) 8
Matt Wolff (Huntington) 8

There has been plenty of solid pitching so far this season. Among hurlers with at least 20 innings pitched and an earned run average of 3.50 or lower, the leader is NCAA D-I Indiana sophomore left-hander Ryan Kraft at 0.90.
Others meeting that standard:
Seti Manase (Indiana) 1.52
William LePretre Jr. (Calumet of St. Joseph) 1.57
Aidan Tyrell (Notre Dame) 1.62
Cole Decker (Trine) 1.66
Garrett Hill (IU Southeast) 1.66
Robbie Berger (IU South Bend) 1.70
Matthew Johnson (Franklin) 1.70
Hunter Callahan (Oakland City) 1.99
Lucas Letsinger (IU Kokomo) 1.99
Marcus Goodpaster (Hanover) 2.27
Josh Hoogewerf (Trine) 2.41
Trennor O’Donnell (Ball State) 2.51
Michael Parks (Evansville) 2.55
Lane Miller (Indiana State) 2.57
Jackson Dennies (Notre Dame) 2.59
Damien Wallace (Marian) 2.67
Justin Bultemeier (Ivy Tech Northeast) 2.70
Bobby Nowak (Valparaiso) 2.74
Drue Young (Indiana Wesleyan) 2.81
Jack Findlay (Notre Dame) 2.82
Nathan Chasey (Valparaiso) 2.83
Gavin Morris (Southern Indiana) 2.88
Jack Ross (Taylor) 2.96
Jake McKendry (IU South Bend) 3.00
Jared Spencer (Indiana State) 3.04
Alec Holcomb (Taylor) 3.06
Tyler Papenbrock (Huntington) 3.06
Joey Butz (Huntington) 3.09
Graham Kollen (Huntington) 3.11
Hunter Frost (Saint Francis) 3.20
William Myklebust (Ivy Tech Northeast) 3.20
Blaine McRae (Saint Francis) 3.27
Evan Fry (Indiana Wesleyan) 3.35
Alex Voss (Butler) 3.38
Brandon DeWitt (Indianapolis) 3.46
Jonathan Blackwell (Purdue) 3.50

NCAA D-III Franklin and NAIA Indiana Wesleyan both are on eight-game win streaks — the longest current skeins in the state.
D-I Indiana State (6), NAIA Saint Francis (5) and NAIA Huntington (4), junior college Ivy Tech Northeast (4), D-I Indiana (3) and D-III Manchester (3) are others near the top of the streak list.

Below are season records, weekly results and links to web pages, schedules and statistics.

Records Through April 9
Ball State 23-8 (10-2 MAC)
Indiana 22-10 (7-2 Big Ten)
Evansville 19-12 (5-4 MVC)
Indiana State 18-12 (8-1 MVC)
Notre Dame 17-12 (7-8 ACC)
Purdue 14-16 (5-4 Big Ten)
Valparaiso 10-14 (2-7 MVC)
Southern Indiana 9-22 (2-7 OVC)
Purdue Fort Wayne 8-24 (5-7 Horizon)
Butler 7-23 (0-3 Big East)

Schedule Links
Ball State
Indiana State
Notre Dame
Purdue Fort Wayne
Southern Indiana

Stat Links
Ball State
Indiana State
Notre Dame
Purdue Fort Wayne
Southern Indiana

Indianapolis 17-12 (5-11 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 6-20 (2-10 GLIAC)

Schedule Links
Purdue Northwest

Stat Links
Purdue Northwest

Franklin 17-6 (7-1 HCAC)
Wabash 16-9 (2-2 NCAC)
Rose-Hulman 15-7 (7-1 HCAC)
Earlham 14-10 (4-5 HCAC)
Manchester 13-11 (4-4 HCAC)
Trine 13-11 (4-2 MIAA)
Anderson 12-11 (2-6 HCAC)
Hanover 8-16 (2-7 HCAC)
DePauw 7-13 (2-2 NCAC)

Schedule Links

Stat Links

Taylor 25-11 (18-4 CL)
Indiana Wesleyan 24-11-1 (19-3 CL)
Huntington 23-10 (17-5 CL)
Oakland City 23-14 (7-11 RSC)

Indiana Tech 20-9 (8-6 WHAC)
IU Southeast 19-14-1 (12-5-1 RSC)
IU-Kokomo 19-15 (9-8 RSC)
Grace 13-16 (5-13 CL)
Marian 13-17 (7-11 CL)
IU South Bend 13-19 (9-6 CCAC)
Bethel 13-21 (6-16 CL)
Calumet of St. Joseph 13-23 (5-10 CCAC)
Saint Francis 16-16 (11-9 CL)
Goshen 7-23 (3-15 CL)
IUPU-Columbus 2-32

Schedule Links
Calumet of St. Joseph
IU South Bend
IU Southeast
Indiana Tech
Indiana Wesleyan
Oakland City
Saint Francis

Stat Links
Calumet of St. Joseph
IU South Bend
IU Southeast
Indiana Tech
Indiana Wesleyan
Oakland City
Saint Francis

Junior College
Ivy Tech Northeast 16-13
Vincennes 16-20 (4-8 MWAC)
Marian’s Ancilla 5-22 (4-5 MCCAA)

Schedule Links
Ivy Tech Northeast
Marian’s Ancilla

Stat Links
Ivy Tech Northeast
Marian’s Ancilla

Through April 9
Monday, April 3
Valparaiso 5, Murray State 2

Tuesday, April 4
Ball State 12, Bellarmine 3
Evansville 12, Purdue 10
Indiana State 4, Indiana 0
Notre Dame 12, Northwestern 0
Toledo 9, Purdue Fort Wayne 8

Thursday, April 6
Ball State 3, The Citadel 2 (10 inn.)
Xavier 8, Butler 3
Notre Dame 10, Pittsburgh 8
Oakland 14, Purdue Fort Wayne 9
Southeast Missouri 13, Southern Indiana 4

Friday, April 7
Ball State 9, The Citadel 8 (8 inn.)
The Citadel 4, Ball State 0
Xavier 4, Butler 2
Valparaiso 6, Evansville 1
Iowa 7, Indiana 1
Indiana State 2, Illinois State 0
Notre Dame 11, Pittsburgh 2
Purdue 3, Minnesota 0
Oakland 7, Purdue Fort Wayne 2
Southern Indiana 9, Southeast Missouri 6

Saturday, April 8
Xavier 13, Butler 6
Evansville 9, Valparaiso 8
Indiana 2, Iowa 0 (10 inn.)
Indiana State 4, Illinois State 3 (10 inn.)
Pittsburgh 9, Notre Dame 5
Purdue 15, Minnesota 3
Oakland 7, Purdue Fort Wayne 6
Southeast Missouri 14, Southern Indiana 2

Sunday, April 9
Evansville 4, Valparaiso 3
Indiana 4, Iowa 2
Indiana State 4, Illinois State 3
Minnesota 9, Purdue 3

Thursday, April 6
Indianapolis 9, Drury 1
Purdue Northwest 10, Wayne State 8

Friday, April 7
Indianapolis 8, Drury 7
Indianapolis 13, Drury 0
Wayne State 9, Purdue Northwest 4
Wayne State 22, Purdue Northwest 6

Saturday, April 8
Drury 6, Indianapolis 3
Wayne State 7, Purdue Northwest 3

Monday, April 3
Franklin 13, Hanover 11

Tuesday, April 4
Wabash 6, DePauw 3
Wabash 14, DePauw 4
Trine 6, Adrian 5 (15 inn.)

Friday, April 7
Bluffton 7, Earlham 6 (12 inn.)
Rose-Hulman 13, Hanover 7
Manchester 2, Defiance 0
Manchester 10, Defiance 5
Trine 7, Kalamazoo 3

Saturday, April 8
Franklin 11, Anderson 3
Franklin 13, Anderson 2
DePauw 6, Oberlin 3
DePauw 8, Oberlin 7
Bluffton 7, Earlham 6
Bluffton 5, Earlham 3
Hanover 10, Rose-Hulman 8
Rose-Hulman 7, Hanover 3
Manchester 2, Defiance 1 (10 inn.)
Kalamazoo 14, Trine 3
Kalamazoo 14, Trine 4

Monday, April 3
Midway 14, IU-Kokomo 4
Saint Ambrose 13, IU South Bend 2
Indiana Tech 21, Madonna 6
Madonna 13, Indiana Tech 12
Saint Francis 13, Spring Arbor 3
Saint Francis 7, Spring Arbor 5

Tuesday, April 4
IU-Kokomo 7, Georgetown (Ky.) 4
IU Southeast 14, IUPU-Columbus 4

Wednesday, April 5
Indiana Wesleyan 6, Mount Vernon Nazarene 0
Indiana Wesleyan 5, Mount Vernon Nazarene 3

Thursday, April 6
Taylor 14, Bethel 1
Taylor 2, Bethel 0
Huntington 5, Goshen 1
Huntington 3, Goshen 0
Spring Arbor 3, Grace 2
Spring Arbor 21, Grace 5
Indiana Wesleyan 10, Mount Vernon Nazarene 2
Indiana Wesleyan 2, Mount Vernon Nazarene 0
Saint Francis 8, Marian 2
Saint Francis 17, Marian 4

Friday, April 7
Saint Ambrose 15, Calumet of St. Joseph 4
IU-Kokomo 5, West Virginia Tech 0
West Virginia Tech 8, IU-Kokomo 6
Trinity Christian 4, IU South Bend 2
Indiana Tech 4, Aquinas 3
Aquinas 8, Indiana Tech 1
Midway 12, Oakland City 1

Saturday, April 8
Saint Ambrose 2, Calumet of St. Joseph 1
Saint Ambrose 7, Calumet of St. Joseph 5
IU-Kokomo 4, West Virginia Tech 2
IUPU-Columbus 6, Miami-Hamilton 4
Miami-Hamilton 7, IUPU-Columbus 1
IU South Bend 8, Trinity Christian 0
IU South Bend 5, Trinity Christian 0
Point Park 5, IU Southeast 3
IU Southeast 5, Point Park 2
Indiana Tech 2, Cornerstone 1
Indiana Tech 6, Cornerstone 5
Oakland City 10, Midway 3
Midway 3, Oakland City 1

Sunday, April 9
IU Southeast 10, Point Park 9

Junior College
Thursday, April 6
Glen Oaks 3, Marian’s Ancilla 1
Marian’s Ancilla 11, Glen Oaks 10

Friday, April 7
Kalamazoo Valley 13, Marian’s Ancilla 10
Heartland 8, Vincennes 3
Heartland 10, Vincennes 3

Saturday, April 8
Ivy Tech Northeast 15, Alpena 5
Ivy Tech Northeast 9, Muskegon 8
Glen Oaks 11, Marian’s Ancilla 1
Marian’s Ancilla 7, Glen Oaks 5
Heartland 20, Vincennes 2
Heartland 19, Vincennes 10

Foster gets opportunity to lead Adams Central Jets program


A large swath of Josh Foster’s life — nearly 20 years — has been attached to baseball at Adams Central Middle/High School in Monroe, Ind.
The new Jets head coach was a student manager for three years of middle school. He played for AC for four years under four different head coaches — Dave Neuenschwander, Mark Conrad, Jody Wendle and Herb Bergman.
“It was a blessing,” says Foster. “I gained knowledge from all four.”
After college, he came back and served junior varsity coach and then varsity assistant.
Neuenschwander approached him to let him know 2022 — Nick Neuenschwander’s senior year — would be his last year leading the baseball program.
“We were in-sync,” says Foster of himself and Dave Neunschwander, who also imparted lessons to him on the football field. “My senior year, (head coach Rick) Minnich needed to motivate me a little bit. He sent me to Coach Newy who said we need to to step it up. He was not rude, but was not going to sugar-coat it. We’ve had that friendship.
“It’s been great having a mentor like that.”
Adams Central lost in the baseball sectional in Foster’s junior year (2000) then finished as IHSAA Class 1A state runners-up in his senior season (2001).
Foster was one of 19 seniors on the Jets 2000 Class 1A state football championship team and one of nine 12th graders on the baseball and basketball teams (AC advanced to the regional).
Foster played three seasons at the Doug Coate-coached University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.
“I was transitioning into a closer, but I was ready to get married,” says Foster, who made high school sweetheart and 2002 Adams Central graduate Julie his wife and the couple went about building a family that now includes five children — seventh grader Jencee, fifth grader Jaxsen, fourth grader Jordyn and kingergarteners Judsen and Jarren.
Josh has been involved with coach his sons’ youth and travel teams. Kevin Foster, Josh’s father, took him to Pony League practices at 3 and has helped his son as a coach.
Adams Central (enrollment around 375) is a member of the Allen County Athletic Conference (with Bluffton, Heritage, Jay County, South Adams, Southern Wells and Woodlan).
The Jets were part of an IHSAA Class 2A baseball sectional grouping in 2022 with Bluffton, Churubusco, Eastside, South Adams and Woodlan. Adams Central has won eight sectional titles — the last in 2016. The Jets last won the ACAC in 1976.
For the first time in years Adams Central is taking part in IHSAA Limited Contact Period fall practices (two hours two times a week).
Led by Foster and junior varsity coach Lance Busse (Class of 2016), these sessions have been attended by up to 12 players — many of them sixth graders.
Foster has been putting together AC’s first middle school baseball program. It will likely be a club team with seventh and eighth grade squads playing game against Indiana and Ohio teams during the spring.
Two dozen middle school players came out to a recent meeting and more are expected. Foster is seeking volunteers to coach the boys.
This supplements the feeder program that is the Monroe Youth League.
Besides Busse, Foster expects Jalen Hammond (Class of 2019) to be on the coaching staff.
A project on Adams Central’s field calls for leveling the infield and there has been talk of installing a warning track.
Knowing the players as he does, Foster is optimistic about the Jets’ potential.
“I am expecting a lot out of the guys, says Foster. “We lost nine (to graduation) last year.
“If come out ready to work and do things that right way we can be successful.”
Class of 2022’s Blake Heyerly at (Vincennes, Ind., University) and Jaren Hildebrand (Spring Arbor University), Class of 2021’s Justin Bultemeier (Ivy Tech Northeast Community College in Fort Wayne) and Class of 2019’s Parker Bates (Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne) are recent Adams Central graduates that moved on to college baseball.
“Coach Neuenschwander did a nice job of getting guys seen and plan to continue that,” says Foster.
Dalton Combs (Class of 2013) was a 2022 Frontier League All-Star in Washington, Pa. Foster took some of his young players to see Combs in the game. Kyle Baker (Class of 2014) is on the Saint Francis coaching staff.
Foster is also Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent, based in Monroe.

Three generations (clockwise from upper left): Kevin, Josh and Jaxsen Foster.
The Fosters (clockwise from upper left): Julie, Josh, Jencee, Judsen, Jaxsen, Jarren and Jordyn.

Josh, Jaxsen and Julie Foster.

Josh, Jaxsen and Judsen Foster.

Jaxsen and Josh Foster.
Dalton Combs (2013 Adams Central High School graduate) with Max Suman, Jaxsen Foster and Chandler Hirschy at the 2022 Frontier League All-Star Game in Washington, Pa.

Former college mates Willard, Neuenschwander meet as opposing coaches



Aaron Willard reached a milestone with his son on the mound and his former college roommate and teammate in the other dugout.

When the Eastside Blazers beat the Adam Central Jets 3-1 Saturday, May 29 in the semifinals of the IHSAA Class 2A Eastside Sectional it gave Willard his 100th varsity baseball coaching victory at his school (to go with 506 in softball including a Class 1A state title in 1998 and 69 in boys basketball).

Locked up in a pitchers’ duel with Adams Central senior right-hander Justin Bultemeier, Eastside junior right-hander Owen Willard struck out 13 while tossing a one-hitter (he gave up a solo home run on a change-up to lefty-swinging senior Brayden Light in the third inning) as the winning pitcher in helping the Blazers (22-6) to the Sectional 36 championship game at 11 a.m. Monday, May 31 against former Eastside head coach Jason Pierce’s Bluffton Tigers.

“I wish (Aaron) all the luck in the world,” says Dave Neuenschwander, who roomed and played baseball with the elder Willard at Huntington (Ind.) College (now Huntington University), and has been head baseball coach at  Adams Central for 27 seasons (1991-98 and 2003-21).

Willard and Neuenschwander formed a bond as Foresters in the ‘80s which he endured to this day.

“He’s always been like a big brother to me,” says Willard of Neuenschwander. “He took me under the wing when I came in.”

Says Neunschwander, “Aaron’s a good coach and he’s a great friend. I wish he lived closer. I know he’d do anything for me and I’d do anything for him.

“I’m anxious for the day when we can both retire and spend some time together.”

Willard, a 1984 Eastside graduate, spent a semester at Franklin (Ind.) College and met sophomore third baseman Neuenschwander, a 1983 South Adams High School graduate, when he arrived on the Huntington campus as a pitcher. 

Aaron’s first season was the first for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Mike Frame as head coach. Other future coaches on the squad included Matt Brumbaugh, Mark Flueckiger and Randy Moss.

When Willard and Neuenschwander’s teams squared off Saturday, it was for just the second time. In 2019, Adams Central and Eastside were not in the same sectional and both received a first-round bye so they met just before the tournament at the ASH Centre in Fort Wayne.

“When we play it’s about respect and a good competition,” says Neuenschwander.

What makes Willard a good coach?

“He understands the game,” says Neuenschwander. “He has the passion for the kids. 

“He gets them to work hard and focus on what they need to do.”

It’s also helped that Aaron has helped develop strong pitchers like his sons Cade (a 2017 Eastside graduate who pitched for Purdue Fort Wayne 2019-21) and Owen.

Also an accomplished shortstop and hitter, Owen could be a two-way player at the next level. He has not yet made a college commitment.

“It’s a big summer for him,” says Aaron of Cade, who plays travel ball for 5 Star Midwest.

Willard coached softball for 23 years before coaching baseball at the high school varsity level.

“I had coached at the Pony League level,” says Willard. “There was a learning curve going from softball back to baseball. There are pick-off and longer distances between bases. It’s getting that timing in your head. I got kids thrown at the plate (as a third base coach). It took them longer to get there.”

Eastside’s 2021 season has included Northeast Corner Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

Besides head baseball coach, Willard is an assistant principal and athletic director at Eastside.

“Aaron’ a great guy to the community,” says Neuenschwander. “He has great friends like Bruce Beard that really helps him out.

“That ’s a tribute to great leadership that he has that people want to help.”

As for the sectional title game against the boys from Bluffton?

Says Willard, “They look like they’re a very scrappy team.”

A fan celebrates a coaching milestone for Eastside High School baseball coach Aaron Willard at the semifinals of the IHSAA Class 2A Eastside Sectional. (Twitter Photo)

Here’s Dick Crumback/NEIBA Player of the Year Watch List



Baseball coaches from Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Noble, Huntington, Wells and Whitley counties were surveyed and 69 names appear on the 2021 Dick Crumback/Northeast Indiana Baseball Association (NEIBA) High School Player of the Year Watch List.

The list will be narrowed in early May to a group of award finalists. The winner will be announced May 26 to coincide with the start the IHSAA state tournament series. The winner will be honored at a Fort Wayne TinCaps game since the NEIBA banquet has been postponed until Sept. 12.

Since 1961, the NEIBA has recognized local baseball players, personnel and ambassadors through a Hall of Fame and honors program. South Adams’ Grant Besser was named Dick Crumback/NEIBA High School Player of the Year in 201. With the 2020 season being canceled because of the COVID-1 pandenic, there was no award given for 2020.

For more information, contact Gary Rogers at grogers@eacs.k.in.us or Brett Windmiller at brett.windmiller@nacs.k.in.us. 





Adams Central (Coach Dave Neuenschwander)

Sr. Justin Bultemeier

Sr. Chase Murray

Jr. Alex Currie

Jr. Blake Heyerly

Bellmont (Coach Tom Montgomery)

Sr. Tanner Hirn

Sr.  Tyler James

Jr.  Kobe Baker

Jr.  Magnuss Lee

Jr. Ethan Garner

Jr. Trevor Walker

Bishop Dwenger (Coach Jason Garrett)

Sr.  Brenden Lytle

Sr. Sam Pesa

Sr.  Callan Stauffer

Sr.  Xavier Nolan

Jr. Jack Tippmann

Fr.  Brayton Thomas

Jr. Beau Jacquay

Bishop Luers (Coach Jeff Stanski)

Sr.  Lukas North

Carroll (Coach Dave Ginder)

Sr.  Jerod Handshoe

Sr.  Cameron Niedens

Jr.  Alex Smith

Sr.  Conner Miller

Sr.  Josh Kuhns

Sr. Jaycob McCullough

Churubusco (Coach Jordan Turner)

Sr.  Brayten Gordon

Sr.  Evan Snyder

Jr.  Keenan Hendricks

Jr.  Callahan Ostrowski

Sr.  Seth Abel

Columbia City (Coach Rob Bell)

Jr.  Sam Gladd

Jr.  Adin Miller

Sr.  Preston Henschen

DeKalb (Coach Tim Murdock)

Sr.  Steele Jackson

East Noble (Coach Aaron Desmonds)

Jr.  Brayden Risedorph

Eastside (Coach Aaron Willard)

Jr.  Owen Willard

Sr.  Dylan Herig

Sr.  Wade Miller

Jr.  Jack Buchanan

Garrett (Coach Jason Richards)

Sr.  Gage Smith

Jr.  Trey Richards

Jr.  Graham Kelham

Heritage (Coach Dean Lehrman)

Jr.  Dalton Wasson

Homestead (Coach Nick Byall)

Sr.  Carter Mathison

Sr.  Luke Palmer

Sr.  Kaleb Kolpien

Sr.  Graham Kollen

Sr. Grant Simmons

Sr. Cole Elkins

Sr. Jayden Lepper

Leo (Coach Gary Rogers)

Sr.  Tyler Papenbrock

Sr.  Coley Stevens

Sr.  Damien Gudakunst

Sr.  Quinten Peters

Sr.  Gannon Brown

Sr. Michael O’Brien

Sr. Dakota Patterson

New Haven (Coach Dave Bischoff)

Sr. Jacob Kortenber

Sr. Augie Difederico

Northrop (Coach Matt Brumbaugh)

Sr.  Tarron White

Jr.  Luke Siren

Norwell (Coach Dave Goodmiller)

Sr. Rocco Hanes

Sr. Eli Riley

South Adams (Coach Brad Buckingham)

Sr. Adam Besser

Sr. James Arnold

Jr. A.J. Dull

Jr. Conner Young

Southern Wells (Coach Blade Rheinhart)

Sr.  Tanner Johnson

Whitko (Coach Jorell Tucker)

Sr.  Bryce Tucker

Sr. Evan Wilson

Northeast Indiana Baseball Association