Grant Lashure is now a junior catcher on the Eastern Illinois University baseball team bound for the June 2-5 NCAA Division I Nashville Regional. Lashure (pronounced Lasher) has played in 45 games for the 2023 EIU Panthers (41 starts) and the righty swinger is hitting .312 (49-of-157) with 11 doubles, 34 runs batted in and 23 runs scored. He is fielding at a .997 clip with 275 putouts and 25 assists. In his first season on the Charleston, Ill., campus (2022), Lashure appeared in 35 games (31 starts) and hit .286 (32-of-112) with three home runs, one triples, two doubles, 14 RBIs and 17 runs. His fielding mark was .996 with 251 putouts and 19 assists. While at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers High School, Lashure did not receive many offers to play college baseball. He committed to North Carolina Central University only to have that program suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lashure opted to stay at home and play for Ivy Tech Northeast Community College in Fort Wayne. He was familiar with Titans head coach Lance Hershberger and assistant Connor Wilkins. He played travel ball for them with the Northeast Indiana Buzz, Summit City Sluggers and Kekiongas. Lashure was not big as a youngster and has since filled out his 5-foot-10 frame at 180 pounds. He appreciates the fundamentals and “small ball” he learned from Hershberger. “He taught the game extremely well,” says Lashure of Hershberger. “He allowed me to become the player I am today. “He allowed me to focus on the little things. With Coach Hershberger, I started to know the game and get a lot better. I became a more well-rounded player.” Lashure credits Wilkins for helping to hone his catching skills — things like, mobility, set-up, receiving, throwing and blocking. Born in Mooresville, N.C., Lashure moved to Fort Wayne as he was entering fourth grade. He was with the James Ball-coached Fort Wayne Cubs (now the Fort Wayne Diamondbacks) for his 10U to 12U travel seasons then was part of the 13U Strike Zone Spiders. He played a little second base as a Luers freshman, but Lashure was mostly a catcher as a four-year Knights varsity player. His head coaches were Gary Rogers the first two years and Jeff Stanski the last two. Grant says he is grateful to Rogers for giving him an opportunity to play with older brother Luke Lashure (Luers Class of 2016). The summer after graduation (2019), Grant played in the local men’s league with the Fort Wayne Blues. When he got to Ivy Tech, he got to play 30 games in the fall and just 11 in the spring because of the shortened 2020 season. But he continued learning and improving while working with Wilkins. “When you’re getting a lot of reps you’re going to get better,” says Lashure. In 2021, he played in 55 games (53 starts) and hit a team-best .421 (67-of-159) with two homers, one triple, 11 doubles, 52 RBIs and 46 runs. A .993 fielder, he collected 248 putouts and 37 assists. Lashure was with the Appalachian League’s Greeneville (Tenn.) Flyboys for 14 games in the summer of 2021. This summer, Lashure is to be with the MLB Draft League’s State College (Pa.) Spikes. But before that comes the postseason at Eastern Illinois. The Jason Anderson-coached Panthers followed up a 33-20 mark in 2022 by losing players who decided not to take their extra year of eligibility or enter the Transfer Portal. Among those was Jesse Wainscott (a right-hander and graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis who landed at Arizona State University). “We were left scrambling,” says Lashure. “We had a lot of arms to replace.” Even so, the team got off to a 12-4 start in 2023. But a 5-9 stretch came next. “We worried about making the (Ohio Valley Conference) tournament at a certain point in our season,” says Lashure. “We had to play as a team. Not just one individual was going to carry us. “We all competed.” The team ended the regular season on a seven-game win streak, including a three-game sweep at Southeast Missouri and went into the OVC tournament in Marion, Ill., as the No. 5 seed. Playing six games in four days, EIU went 5-1, beating No. 1 seed Morehead State for the NCAA tournament bid. “We took the longest route to the championship,” says Lashure. The Nashville Regional is hosted by No. 1 seed Vanderbilt (No. 6 of 16 national seeds) and also includes No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Xavier and No. 4 Eastern Illinois (38-19). Lashure, who turns 23 on June 18, earned a General Studies associate degree at Ivy Tech and is an Exercise Science major at Eastern Illinois. Mike and Monica Lashure have six children — Luke, Grant, Leah, Nick, Anthony and Veronica. Mike Lashure is Director of New Market Development for Schafer Industries. Monica Lashure is a stay-at-home mom. Luke Lashure played one baseball season at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. Leah Lashure played tennis at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger High School and is now a art/substitute teacher at Our Lady of Good Hope School in Fort Wayne. Nick Lashure (Dwenger Class of 2024) is a prep baseball and football athlete. Anthony Lashure finished eighth grade. He plays baseball and basketball. Veronica Lashure, 6, is just getting started in school.
Moneyball — the film based on the non-fiction book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis — came out in 2011. Brodey Heaton was 9 or 10 and living in Newburgh, Ind., when he first saw it. “I liked the storyline and as I grew up and started getting more into math and statistics it just started becoming my favorite movie,” says Heaton, who is a first baseman — the same position played by Scott Hatteberg of the Oakland Athletics in real life and the film. Now 22 and a 6-foot-5, 235-pounder at NCAA Division I Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Heaton has already earned an undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics. With an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heaton plans to play for the Bruins again in 2024 while pursuing a Master of Sport Administration. Batting primarily in the 3-hole, Heaton has played in 52 games (50 starts) in 2023 and is hitting .241 (46-of-191) with six home runs, 10 doubles, 33 runs batted in, 28 runs scored and .724 OPS (.326 on-base percentage plus .398 slugging average). “I try to drive in runs or be productive for the team — try to have a tough at-bat and set up the rest of the lineup the best I can,” says Heaton, who went 2-of-3 and scored a run Tuesday, May 16 at Tennessee. For his college career, the righty swinger/thrower has played in 174 games (172 starts) and is hitting .286 (191-of-669) with 23 homers, 39 doubles, 149 RBIs, 97 runs and .825 OPS (.360/.465). Heaton was an all-Ohio Valley Conference tournament team in 2022. If Belmont (23-30, 8-16) qualifies for the 2023 Missouri Valley Conference tourney, that event is May 23-27 at Indiana State. Teammates voted Heaton and left-handed pitcher Andy Bean as co-captains for 2023. “Part of my job is the communicate between the coaches and the rest of the team,” says Heaton. “And to be an extra coach out there. Since I’ve probably been here the longest I help the new guys out and give them little pointers when they need it. “It’s also being a relaxing presence for people and showing them the way we do things at Belmont.” In that way, Heaton is a reflection of his veteran head coach. Dave Jarvis is in his 26th season as Belmont head coach and 41st year of coaching overall. “He’s a calm presence in the dugout,” says Heaton of Jarvis. “He’s always positive. He’s always telling us to be calm and ready for the moment.” Heaton benefits from physical strength and mental acuity, honed by playing football (tight end), basketball (power forward) and baseball (first base) at Castle High School, where he graduated in 2019. “Strength is a big part of my game now,” says Heaton. “I’ve always been naturally strong but in my years at Belmont I’ve put in a lot more work in the weight room. I’ve gotten a lot more strength, especially in my lower body. I’ve worked with our strength coach (assistant sports performance coach Jarett Thompson) just to stay healthy and strong. “It’s paid dividends for me. “I’m not the quickest. Playing three sports in high school has made me more athletic. My Baseball I.Q. helps me know what’s going on and get to balls or take extra bases.” Curt Welch was Heaton’s head baseball coach in high school, instilling drive and providing life lessons. “He is super competitive,” says Heaton of Welch. “He wants it a lot out there and he takes that into his teams. “He has that attention to detail. You can just tell that he wants to make us competitive. I really appreciated playing for him.” As a senior, Heaton hit .392 and was named to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series in Madison and was all-state honorable mention, first-team all-Southern Indiana Athletic Conference and the All-Metro Player of the Year. He helped the Knights win two sectionals and two regionals. Growing up in Newburgh, Heaton started out with local teams, played Newburgh Junior Baseball in middle school and was with the Indiana Bulls travel organization from 11U to 17U. Sean Laird was the head coach in his 17U summer. He then went with the Jeremy Johnson-coached Evansville Razorbacks before heading to Belmont. After his freshman season with the Bruins, Heaton went to College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. Early in the 2021 spring season, he suffered a torn labrum in his left hip and partially-torn quadriceps and played through it. Surgery kept him off the field that summer. Heaton played for the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Ocean State Waves in 2022 and expects to go back to South Kingstown, R.I., this summer. Bryan and Crystal Heaton have two children — Brodey and Katelyn (19). Bryan Heaton is a project manager for Toyota. Crystal Heaton is in the finance department of Deaconess Health System. Katelyn Heaton is studying speech therapy at Murray (Ky.) State University.
Brendon Saget played on Traders Point Christian Academy’s first baseball team in 2013 and graduated from the school in Whitestown, Ind., that same spring. Darin Grice was the head coach of that inaugural team during the pre-IHSAA era. Two decades later, Saget is in his first season as Knights head baseball coach. He had previously coached junior high basketball and baseball at the school and helped with varsity basketball, baseball and volleyball and in the athletic office. He’s also coached travel baseball for the Indy Thrashers, Indy Titans and Primetime Baseball. More recently, Saget coached eighth grade baseball at Zionsville (Ind.) Middle School and basketball at Zionsville West Middle School as well as serving as a junior varsity basketball assistant at Zionsville Community High School. Traders Point Christian (enrollment around 100) is an athletic independent. The Knights are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023 with Bethesda Christian, Indiana Deaf, Providence Cristo Rey and Tindley. Traders Point won the program’s first IHSAA Class 1A sectional championships in 2021 and 2022. Saget looks to build on that success while establishing his own program. “Accountability and hard work are what we try to prioritize,” says Saget. “And doing things the right way.” Multi-sport athletes are the rule for the Knights. “We feel like we have a gold mine here at Traders Point with a great Christian education and giving our athletes a chance to play multiple sports. “It’s good for our football players to see a different perspective from a different coach.” Saget, who is the third head baseball coach at Traders Point in four years, considers himself a “free” coach. “I like to teach the game in practice and then go out in the games and let the kids play,” says Saget. “Let the kids understand, let them experiment and figure things out. That’s the way to learn the game. “We fail and learn from it.” Traders Point plays its home games 24 miles from campus at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. To be closer, Senior Night is scheduled for May 12 vs. Crispus Attucks at Zionsville West. Saget’s assistants are Clayton Sayre, Drew Minnich and volunteers James Gilbert and Ben Wilson. Sayre and Saget have coached together in some capacity for the past decade. Pitching coach Minnich is a Traders Point teacher and a former pitcher at NorthWood High School in Nappanee, Ind., and Cedarville (Ohio) University. “He’s implemented a lot of great things, trying to keep our guys healthy,” says Saget of Minnich. Gilbert has helped for four years and has a son — senior Jameson Gilbert — on the team. Wilson is a Traders Point alum and former player. He helps with pitchers and runs the strength and conditioning program. The varsity-only roster of 15 also features seniors Max Harris and Eli Meals. Second baseman/right-handed pitcher Harris is committed to Manchester University (North Manchester, Ind.). Meals aka “Meals on Wheels” is the Knights’ lead-off hitter, starting shortstop and pitching ace and is currently uncommitted for college. “He is just lightning fast on the base paths,” says Saget of Meals, who is also a standout as a football wideout. “He can read like no other. He just has a knack for the game. He’s very quiet, but he shows so much passion and heart on the field. “He gives his teammates of what an elite athlete looks like.” Traders Point also has a K-8 school. While numbers are too low this spring for games, there is a junior high program led by alum and former Ivy Tech Northeast Community College player Camden Pavey. Sage says clinics and other opportunities are planned for younger players this summer. Little League Central Region Complex is in Whitestown — less than two miles away from Traders Point. “We’re building a relationship with them and looking to serve at their field and have them partner with our youth programs,” says Saget. Born and raised in Burbank, Calif., Saget moved up to the Bay Area — thus his allegiance to the Oakland Athletics — then to Indiana as a youngster. He started at Traders Point as a sophomore. The middle and high school school director at Zionsville Presbyterian Church, Saget graduated from Grand Canyon University (online) with a degree in Christian Arts with an emphasis in Youth Ministry. He is working toward a Masters of Ministerial Leadership from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul (online) and will then pursue a Masters of Divinity from the same school. “I’m living my dream,” says Saget. “I’m a youth pastor as well as the varsity baseball coach at Traders Point.”
Jaylon Cushenberry is now in charge of the baseball program at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. His hiring was finalized in November and he went about establishing the culture for the Bears. “At LC we’ve padded our schedule. It’s a lot tougher than it’s ever been,” says Cushenberry, who won IHSAA Class 1A sectionals in both his seasons as head coach at Traders Point Christian in Whitestown, Ind. “We play teams like Zionsville, Western, Westfield, University and a couple of other teams. “Our goal with our regular season is to play as many championship caliber teams as we can and see how we stack up. “When you think of LC Baseball from here on out you’re going to see blue collar workers who won’t quit. We have a lot of grit and determination. “They’ve all bought into the plan — play very, very hard for seven-plus innings.” Lawrence Central (enrollment around 2,365) is a member of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (with Ben Davis, Indianapolis North Central, Lawrence North, Pike and Warren Central). MIC teams play home-and-home series on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Bears are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2023 with Ben Davis, Indianapolis Cathedral, Indianapolis Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis North Central, Lawrence North and Pike. Lawrence Central has won eight sectional titles — the last in 2004. Cushenberry, a graduate of Avon (Ind.) High School and Marian University in Indianapolis, is a Special Education Paraprofessional at Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School, where he is also defensive line coach for the football team. Because of the timing of his hiring he was not there to guide IHSAA Limited Contact Period sessions in the fall, but Cushenberry has regularly had 35 to 40 as winter activities and expects 10 to 15 more when winter sports are complete. The focus so far has been on getting to know one another while also teaching the game. “We want to build a great relationship with our players,” says Cushenberry. “We’re trying to get our guys to buy into who we are. “We want to build that mindset to be aggressive and not be passive and look for the easy way out.” A year ago, the Bears fielded varsity and junior varsity teams. Cushenberry says if there are enough quality players LC may have three teams this spring. Three of Cushenberry’s 2023 assistants — Conner Madding, Nolan Nihiser and Ernie Mudis — were on his Traders Point staff. At Lawrence Central, Madding is the pitching coach, Nihiser the outfield coordinator and Mudis a varsity assistant. In addition, there varsity assistant Jack Johnson, varsity assistant/junior varsity head coach Davon Hardy, JV assistant C.J. Wilson and infield coordinator Uriak Marquez. The Venezuelan played several years in professional baseball, including two in the Chicago Cubs system. Cushenberry is hitting and baserunning coordinator. He will be helped on the hitting side by Nihiser and Marquez. “Traders Point taught me how to coach,” says Cushenberry. “It taught me patience and understanding how to work with kids of lesser talent and also how to develop players at a high level. “It also taught me how to be humbled. With every high there’s a low. Our kids found that out very quickly. You win back-to-back sectionals and are a couple or runs or mistakes from being in the regional championship. “Baseball is a humbling game and teaches you so many life lessons.” The Bears play on-campus on Community Health Field. Plans call for a new all-turf field with lights next to the current one in 2024. Like Lawrence Central, Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township partner Lawrence Central is also due to get turf fields for baseball and softball, according to Cushenberry. Rainouts — which take away game and practice time — are significantly lessened with turf and a major reason so many schools are going to it. “Turf is a necessity item for us,” says Cushenberry. The Lawrence Central program is fed by Belzer and Fall Creek Valley middle schools and Fall Creek Softball & Baseball. Among Lawrence Central graduates in college baseball there’s Class of 2019’s Zach Lane (Ball State University) and Class of 2022’s Charlie Hawk (Purdue Fort Wayne). Class of 2024’s Ahmaad Duff is committed to the University of Alabama. Two others from that class — Nick Johnson and Bryson Luter — have been getting looks from collegiate baseball programs. Cushenberry, who has coach with the Indiana Mustangs travel organization in the summer, was among the many Indiana high school coaches attending the 2023 American Baseball Coaches Convention in Nashville. “It was so much fun and we learned so much,” says Cushenberry.
Kelby Weybright is going into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. The organization voted Weybright in as part of the 2023 class (players Drew Storen and Jeff Samardzija and veterans committee selections Lenny “Lefty” Johnston and Wayne Johnson are the others) and he will be recognized at a banquet held during the IHSBCA State Clinic. The dinner is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13 at the Sheraton at the Crossing in Indianapolis. Weybright coached baseball at Norwell High School near Ossian, Ind., for 17 seasons — the last 11 as head coach. On his watch, the Knights went 243-93 with two conference, seven sectional, four regional and two semistate titles to go with two IHSAA Class 3A state championships (2003 and 2007) and one 3A state runner-up finish (2006). The 2007 team went 35-0. “It’s an award that truly represents the commitment and efforts of a lot of people in our community who gave of their time and talents to give kids an opportunity to learn and play the game of baseball and to play it at a high level,” says Weybright. “(It reflects) the kids who worked their tails off, coaches who gave of their time and talents, our community who supported those teams and our school who stood behind us. “I was fortunate enough to be the person who had the title of head coach.” Fundamental soundness was a priority for Weybright. “There were fundamental drills we did every single day. I’m sure kids got tired of seeing it. “Our practices were detailed down to the minute with what we were doing.” Success could be achieved if Norwell had strong pitching, made the “everyday” play and won as many innings as possible. “Whatever we were doing it was nine guys working as one as much as possible,” says Weybright. “I loved to look out at the baseball diamond and see a play happen and all nine guys moving in rhythm and going where they’re supposed to be. “It’s like a symphony playing.” Bunting and running were major parts of the Knights’ game. So was hustle. Many were the times when players went first to third or two players scored on a suicide squeeze bunt. “We tried to play like our rear ends were on fire,” says Weybright. “I wanted guys who played the game hard. I wanted guys who competed. When we went on the field or came off the field it was at a dead run. “We want to come out and have a great pregame. We wanted to be fast and crisp. We wanted the people in the other dugout to go, ‘Mmm, dang, we’re going to struggle today.’ “Those are the kinds of things our kids bought into. When you see team play that hard it carries over to different aspects of the game.” His teams were well-conditioned, frequently coming in for 6 a.m. Saturday workouts during the winter. But beyond baseball it was about getting teenagers ready to be fathers and productive members of the community. “We’re proud of watching these guys grow and become the men they are,” says Weybright. After the 2012 Norwell season, Weybright stepped away from his head coach post to guide his sons in travel ball and tend to his school responsibilities. After years as assistant principal and dean of students, Kelby was named Norwell’s athletic director in 2017. Those duties keep him busy though he does help out with the baseball program when time allows. When the Knights advanced to semistate a couple of years ago he found time to work with the infielders. He trades videos and ideas with current Norwell head coach Dave Goodmiller. “I still try to stay involved,” says Weybright, 52. Kelby and wife of 25 years, Lisa, have three children — Garrett (23), Jacob (21) and Maria (19). Garrett Weybright (Norwell Class of 2018) and Jacob Weybright (Class of 2020) both played baseball in high school. Maria Weybright (Class of 2021) was a four-year varsity cheerleader at Norwell. Kelby was born in Wooster, Mass., to Garry and Linda Weybright (who now live in Elkhart County) and moved to Indiana around age 5. Brother Teague Weybright is one year younger than Kelby. A 1988 graduate of North White Middle/High School in Monon, Ind., Before graduating from Indiana University, Kelby played three baseball seasons at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill. “It’s about an hour from Busch Stadium (in St. Louis),” says Weybright. “When I was in college you could actually buy outfield seats for five bucks.” Growing up as a big Gary Carter fan, Weybright cheered for the Montreal Expos or New York Mets. Listening to Jack Buck on the radio or attending game changed his favorite team in college. “I’m a diehard (St. Louis Cardinals) fan,” says Weybright. “I live and die by the Redbirds right now.” For questions about Hall of Fame banquet reservations, program advertisements or events leading up to the ceremony, contact Hall of Fame chairman Jeff McKeon at 317-445-9899. Banquet tickets can be purchased at https://www.cognitoforms.com/Baseball3%20_2023IHSBCAStateClinic and can be picked up from Jeff on the night of the banquet at the registration table. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Cory Blocker moves up from varsity assistant to head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School in Wabash, Ind., in 2022-23. Borrowing a motto from another coach, Blocker wants the Knights to be “efficient.” “In practice drills, we’re not standing around but getting plenty of swings and taking game-like reps,” says Blocker, who wants to see efficiency in the field, on the mound and in the batter’s box. Southwood left 6.6 runners on base per game and committed 88 fielding errors in going 5-17-1 in 2022. “We want to make the plays behind our pitchers,” says Blocker. “We want to have an (offensive) approach and understand our job each time we go to the plate. We’ll try to put ourselves in the best position to achieve that job.” If the Knights have a runner on first base, the job will entail moving them at least to second base. “We want to make (opposing) pitchers work and make every out count,” says Blocker, who wants to see his hitters make contact and increase their batting average on balls in play. Pitching efficiency includes mechanics, throwing strikes and liming walks. Among Southwood returnees for 2023 is senior catcher Mo Lloyd, who hit .452 with 12 home runs and 40 runs batted in for 2002 and hitting .480 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs for a 22-7 team in 2021. Besides Blocker, the coaching staff features returnees Danny Lloyd and Christian Deeter and newcomers in pitching coach Kyle Zerfas and junior varsity coach Tanner Chamberlain. There were about 25 players in the program — varsity and JV — in 2022. Blocker is in his eighth year as a Southwood teacher. He instructs sixth grade math and is at the junior/high school building for the first time in 2022-23. He has been a baseball and football assistant for seven years. This fall, he was the special teams coordinator and running backs coach. The 2022 Southwood football team went 7-3. Because of when Blocker was named head coach and his football duties, there were no IHSAA Limited Contact Period activities in the fall. The Knights play home games on-campus on a facility sometimes called “The Launching Pad” for its cozy dimensions. Blocker says its about 280 feet down the foul lines. Wabash Little League serves Wabash County and feeds players to Southwood, Manchester, Northfield and Wabash high schools. Southwood (enrollment around 250) is a member of the Three Rivers Conference (with Maconaquah, Manchester, Northfield, North Miami, Peru, Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko). In recent seasons, TRC teams met each other once during the season. There is no conference tournament. The Knights part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping in 2023 with Caston, North Miami, North White, Northfield and West Central. Southwood has won five sectional titles — the last in 2021. A 2009 graduate of Huntington (Ind.) North High School, Blocker played four years of football, three of baseball and two of basketball. His head coaches were Rief Gilg (the Vikings went 8-3 in 2008, Blocker’s senior year on the gridiron), Russ Degitz and Eric Foister. “A lot of our time in baseball was spent with the little details,” says Blocker of Degitz. “He was a big fundamental guy. “They were all coaches that were hard on you but cared about you at the same time and made sure that was relayed in everything they did.” Blocker spent two years at Purdue University and four at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, graduating in 2015. Cory and Brittany Blocker have been married five years. The couple resides in Wabash and has three children — daughter Wrenley (3), son Wesley (1 1/2) and daughter Willow (almost eight months).
Lafayette Central Catholic got on the scoreboard early and managed to work out of some jams in besting Tecumseh 4-1 in the IHSAA Class 1A baseball state championship Saturday, June 18 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. The No. 3-ranked Knights beat the unranked Braves at the 2022 State Finals for the program’s eighth 1A title (2004, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013). Lafayette Central Catholic scored two runs in the first inning and added markers in the fourth and fifth while Tecumseh tallied a fourth-inning run and finished the contest with nine runners left on base. “All year Owen Munn and Evan Dienhart kind of set the table for us,” said 27th-year Knights coach Tim Bordenet. “Ben (Mazur) has a knack of pitching out of trouble. He bears down when there’s traffic out there. “He did that today.” Junior Munn went 1-for-3 with two runs scored. Junior Dienhart was 2-of-2 with a run. Junior Mazur went 1-for-2 with an RBI. On the mound, he gave up five hits and one unearned run with six strikeouts and three walks for 119 pitches. Tecumseh junior center fielder Chase Jones took a hit away from junior T.J. Bell with a diving catch for the first out in the Lafayette Central Catholic sixth. A scoreless Braves sixth included a one-out walk by Jones and two-out walk by freshman Mason Gogel with a rally-ending caught-looking strikeout by Mazur. With on run in the fifth, the Knights went ahead 4-1. Munn reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to third base on an error and scored on a single by Mazur. Tecumseh left two runners and came up empty in the fifth following a one-out single by junior Conner Anglin and two-out single by junior Dax Bailey. Lafayette Central Catholic (27-6) took a 3-1 edge with one run in the fourth. Bell singled off the wall in right. Junior courtesy runner Nathan Bapst moved to second on a groundout and scored on a throwing error following a groundout for the second out of the inning. The Braves tallied one run in the fourth to pull within 2-1. Junior Brody Julian reached on an error, moved to second base on a wild pitch, third base on a single by Bailey (Tecumseh’s first hit of the game) and scored when junior Drew DuPont got on by error. The frame — that included three Knight defensive miscues — ended with the bases loaded. Mazur recorded two strikeouts and a coerced a fly-out. Lafayette Central Catholic stranded two runners in a scoreless third. Dienhart produced a two-out infield single Mazur walked (and was spelled by courtesy runner Bapst) before Braves right-hander Bailey coaxed an inning-ending groundout. Anglin lined a two-out single and was thrown on trying to steal second base — junior catcher Ryan Schummer to shortstop Dienhart in a score-free Tecumseh third. The Knight second ended on a Tecumseh double play — shortstop Julian tagging second base and firing to first baseman Drew DuPont, retiring junior runner Tyler Fox (who singled) and sophomore batter Kayden Minnich. The Braves went down in order against Mazur in the second with a line-out, fly-out and strikeout. Lafayette Central Catholic tallied two runs in its half of the first to go up 2-0. Munn smacked a lead-off double and scored on an error as Dienhart put down a bunt single and advanced to second base. Dienhart stole third base and beat the throw home on Schummer’s sacrifice fly to center. Tecumseh left a runner at third base in a scoreless first. Lead-off hitter Anglin drew a walk and moved around on a wild pitch and groundout but got no further against LCC’s Mazur. Bailey went all six innings on the mound for the Braves and gave up six hits and four runs (three earned) with six strikeouts and three walks over 95 pitches. Lafayette Central Catholic senior Justin Brady took home the Phil Gardner Mental Attitude Award. Tecumseh (19-13) was attempting to win the program’s second state title (the other came in 2003) and the Braves are now three-time state runners-up. There were no seniors and 11 freshmen on Tecumseh’s 20-man tournament roster. “If we don’t make those mistakes it’s really a 1-1 ballgame,” said fifth-year Braves coach Ted Thompson of Saturday’s contest. “You don’t know what happens at that point. “Today was just not our day.”
The 55th IHSAA State Finals for baseball is returning to a Friday-Saturday format with two games each day at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis. On Friday, June 17, the Class 2A game pits No. 7-ranked Centerville (21-5) against unranked Illiana Christian (21-7) at 5:30 p.m. ET/4:30 CT. Both teams are making their first State Finals appearance. Centerville has outscored opponents 38-20 in five postseason games. Illiana Christian has a run differential of 62-6 in six games. The 3A game features No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit (26-4) against No. 1 Andrean (30-4) at 8 ET/7 CT. The Braves have earned one state runner-up finish in 3A (2012), the 59ers seven state titles (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) and one runner-up (2003). Tournament run differential — Brebeuf 47-5 in six games, Andrean 49-6 in five games. On Saturday, June 18, the 1A title contest is slated for 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 CT and includes vote-getter Tecumseh (19-12) and No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic (26-6). The Braves won it all in 1A in 2003 while the Knights have carted off the state trophy on seven occasions (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). Tournament run differential — Tecumseh 58-15 in six games, Lafayette Central Catholic 62-7 in five games. The 4A championship is slated for 8 ET/7 CT and pits a pair of unranked clubs — Indianapolis Cathedral (18-10-2) against Penn (25-6). The Irish have reigned three times (2001 in 3A, 2007 and 2017 in 4A) with five runner-up finishes (2006, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2018). The Kingsmen have four state crowns to their credit (1994 in the pre-class era, 1998, 2001 and 2015 in 4A) with one runner-up (2017). Tournament run differential — Cathedral 59-27 in five games, Penn 33-12 in six games. Andrean’s Dave Pishkur, Lafayette Central Catholic’s Tim Bordenet, Penn’s Greg Dikos are all members of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. A capsule look at the finalists:
Class 4A Indianapolis Cathedral Top hitters: Jr. Kyuss Gargett (.395 average, 3 home runs, 18 runs batted in, 18 stolen bases), So. Carson Johnson (.389, 20 RBI, 12 SB), So. J.T. Stiner (.364, 2 HR, 30 RBI), Sr. Ben Gomez (.342, 2 HR), So. Patrick Mazur (.341, 21 RBI), 13 SB, Jr. David Ayers (.247, 18 RBI, 16 SB), Sr. Connor Hall (15 SB). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Ben Gomez (5-1, 36 strikeouts, 15 walks, 3.55 earned run average, 51 1/3 IP), Sr. RHP Dylan Haslett (3-3, 3.58, 56 K’s, 25 walks, 43 IP). Cathedral won the Pike Sectional (Pike 11-1, Lawrence North 10-8), New Palestine Regional (Anderson 14-4, New Palestine 11-7) and Mooresville Semistate (Columbus East 13-7). The Fighting Irish have won a season-best seven in a row. Saturday’s game against Penn recalls the 2017 4A championship game (a 4-3 Cathedral victory). Bishop Chatard bested the Irish in the 2022 city championship game May 10 at Victory Field. Cathedral head coach Ed Freje (Sixth season, 113-32-5) says: “We’ve struggled early and throughout to kind of find our identity on the mound and some pieces that worked offensively for us. We had some bad losses. We had some good wins. It was kind of an up-and-down year … Ben Gomez threw a great game, a complete game (in a 3-2 Senior Night win May 16 against Mooresville). I don’t know if that was a turning point, but I think it definitely gave the guys confidence to beat a good opponent. It was some momentum to build on going into the postseason … We make it a priority (to play a competitive schedule). We definitely want to play and see good teams to see where we’re at early and throughout the season — most importantly to see good pitching and challenge ourselves … We can learn from our wins and learn from our losses and grow through the season … Hopefully — along the way — we’re winning some games. Losing is something we try not to settle in too much in the program … We try to go out and compete everyday to win so you know the losses we took throughout weren’t easy, especially some of the lopsided ones (including 11-1 to Homestead, 17-1 to Center Grove and 18-8 to Franklin Community) … We’ve had games where we’ve had to battle and win in some ugly ways … One of the staples of the program when I was an assistant to Coach (Rich) Andriole was pitching and defense and holding opponents to low-scoring games and that — quite frankly — hasn’t been how we’ve won this year. We’ve been kind of fortunate to find some offense and find our bats here lately … Each team kind of takes its own identity and this isn’t the team from 2017 and it’s not the team from 2018 (which lost 4-3 to Fishers for the 4A title). This team is its own team. I’m proud of the way we’ve stuck together … It’s a special opportunity (to play at Victory Field). We try to tell our players it’s nothing to take for granted … It provides a little bit of reassurance the fact that we’ve been there.”
Penn Top hitters: Zach Hoskins (.412, 1 HR, 14 RBI), Jr. Cam Dombrowski (.409, 21 RBI), Sr. Ben Gregory (.373, 30 RBI), Jr. Adam Lehmann (.366, 20 RBI), Jr. Cooper Hums (.333, 2 HR, 16 RBI), Sr. Zac David (.313, 27 RBI), Jr. Evan Tuesley (.219, 2 HR, 11 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Ben Gregory (3-1, 2.07, 37 K’s, 8 walks, 27 IP), Jr. RHP Brayden Schoetzow (10-0, 1.37, 62 K’s, 14 walks, 51 IP), Jr. RHP Adam Lehmann (3-1, 1.64, 49 K’s, 16 walks, 34 IP), So. RHP Joe Trennery (4-2, 3.30, 49 K’s, 18 walks, 36 IP). Penn won the Penn Sectional (Elkhart 7-0, Warsaw 3-1, Northridge 7-5), LaPorte Regional (South Bend Adams 11-0, Lake Central 5-4) and LaPorte Semistate (Zionsville 4-2). The Kingsmen are in the state championship game for the sixth time coming off an 11-game win streak. Penn has won 14 of its last 15. Penn head coach Greg Dikos (35th season, 793-281) says: “I think it’s going to be very good baseball … (Cathedral) is pounding the ball pretty good. That’s one of the things we have to stop. They score a lot of runs. They look to have some team speed … Like we did for Zionsville, we’re going working on holding runners and with our catchers getting rid of he ball. You know, making sure we don’t allow them any free bases … We want them to take a look around and enjoy the atmosphere because this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (for our players). I also want to make sure they understand the responsibility on their shoulders. The community is expecting a ‘W.’ … (Competing for championships) is the culture here at Penn … (Assistant coach Jim Kominkiewicz) has been involved for all six (State Finals) appearances. (Tom Stanton) has been involved since 2002. The kids see that we’re experienced (coaches) and I think that might take a little pressure off as well.”
Class 3A Brebeuf Jesuit Top hitters: Sr. Sam Reed (.444, 2 HR, 22 RBI), Sr. Will Schenkelberg (.426, 2 HR, 32 RBI), Sr. Luke Bauer (.413, 1 HR, 28 RBI, 19 SB), So. Will Loftus (.407, 3 HR, 32 RBI), Jr. Jayden Ohmer (.398, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 21 SB), Sr. Anthony Annee (.320, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 33 SB), Jr. Michael Finelli (.329, 22 RBI), Jr. Alex Cookerly (.241, 22 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Andrew Dutkanych (8-0, 106 K’s, 24 walks, 1.02, 48 IP), Sr. LHP Sam Reed (5-0, 1.17, 89 K’s, 15 walks, 54 IP). Brebeuf won the Danville Sectional (Greencastle 10-0, Danville 11-3, Tri-West Hendricks 12-2), Danville Regional (West Vigo 4-0, Beech Grove 8-0) and Jasper Semistate (Silver Creek 2-0). The Braves have won 15 straight. Their last loss was April 30 at Center Grove (9-8). Brebeuf won the Marion County tournament championship May 10 against Lawrence North (13-3) at Victory Field. Brebeuf head coach Jeff Scott (Fourth season at Brebeuf and 12th overall, 131-100-1) says: “We never really talked about the State Finals this year. We had a senior leadership meeting (in the winter and throughout the season). One of the things I talked about was ‘let’s enjoy this ride here and let’s take this thing day-by-day. Let’s go work hard and enjoy each day and see where we get when this thing’s over … This is my last year at Brebeuf. I’ve kept that under my hat. I didn’t want to take away our seniors or our team (Scott, who is in his fourth season leading the Braves, lives in the Center Grove district and makes a long daily commute to Brebeuf and wants to spent more time enjoying his children’s activities) … We knew we compete on that stage and compete with that team (after the loss to Center Grove). I think our mindset changed a little bit … Sam (Reed) gives you a great look on the left side. He really works down and keeps the ball down. Where (Friday’s starter) Andrew (Dutkanych) will rely on the breaking ball a little more, Sam relies on the change-up a little more. That’s probably the noticeable differences between those two pitchers … It’s a huge advantage (having played recently at Victory Field). You know we were there last year. The majority of the team has played on that field the last two years already. When you first play there No. 1 you’re a little awestruck. It’s a beautiful venue and unbelievable backdrop with the city of Indianapolis there. So you have that factor. It’s really big (320 feet down the lines, 418 to left-center, 326 to right-center and 402 to dead center). The foul territories are much bigger and the gaps are much bigger that your normal high school field. Positioning the outfielders is very difficult at Victory Field, especially if you haven’t been there. Communicating is extremely challenging out there for some reason … (Andrean) is going to be well-prepared to go pitch it well and defend it well. I’m certain they’ll have a good game plan to try to attack (Dutkanych) as well — just like Silver Creek did this past weekend.”
Andrean Top hitters: Sr. Jax Kalemba (.460, 5 HR, 38 RBI), Sr. Billy Jones (.435, 1 HR, 9 RBI), Sr. Alonzo Paul (.434, 17 RBI), Sr. Miguel Martinez (.429, 2 HR, 11 RBI), Sr. Peyton Niksch (.425, 2 HR, 33 RBI), Fr. Mason Barth (.406, 1 HR, 43 RBI), Sr. Owen Walkowiak (.395, 18 RBI), Jr. Drayk Bowen (.355, 2 HR, 30 RBI), Jr. Chris Koeppen (.282, 2 HR, 13 RBI). Top pitchers: Sr. RHP Peyton Niksch (10-0, 0.22, 79 K’s, 15 walks, 62 2/3 IP), Sr. RHP Owen Walkowiak (5-2, 1.76, 59 K’s, 17 walks, 47 2/3 IP). Andrean won the Griffith Sectional (Griffith 10-2, Calumet New Tech 18-0), Griffith Regional (South Bend Saint Joseph 5-3, Glenn 4-0) and Kokomo Semistate (New Castle 12-1). The 59ers have won six in a row. The team reeled off 14 straight wins April 14-May 10. Andrean head coach Dave Pishkur (42nd season, 1,070-292) says: “The Penn game (a 4-3 win on April 29) might be the one that told me that we’re good enough to beat some of the really good teams. But we kept on getting better week after week (as the starting lineup from Day 1 evolved through the season as is typical at Andrean) … We went right by Victory Field (on the way came back from Louisville Ballard in late March). Our kids were saying ‘we’ll be there in two months.’ My son and I, we were kind of laughing like there’s no way we’re coming back there if we don’t get markedly better and we did. They prophesied that they were going to be there … This is a very athletic team. We put a premium on baserunning and putting the ball in-play … We’ve seen good pitching this year. The problem is Dukanych might be a step up from good pitching. He might be that elite generational type of talent … We’re fortunate at Andrean that we have a lot of good equipment (including a $14,000 iPitch machine which can deliver 97 mph fastballs, 76 mph breaking pitches and just about everything in-between) … With a good opposition (like Brebeuf) you expect good pitching. You expect good hitting. But, on the other side, they should expect the same out of us and you kind of hope it’s a well-played game.”
Class 2A Centerville Top hitters: Sr. Jamari Pamplin (.429, 6 HR, 28 RBI), Sr. Javontae Pamplin (.423, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 16 SB) , Sr. Keegan Schlotterbeck (.364, 2 HR, 27 RBI), Sr. Logan Drook (.361, 18 RBI), Jr. Jacob Crowe (.357, 1 HR, 26 RBI), Jr. Collin Clark (.338, 2 HR, 18 RBI), So. Kollyn Peed (.333, 1 HR, 9 RBI), Sr. Bryce Robertson (333, 18 RBI), Sr. Zach Thompson (.274, 1 HR, 14 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Jacob Crowe (10-3, 2.13, 87 K’s, 14 walks, 62 1/3 IP), Sr. RHP Logan Drook (5-0, 1.30, 66 K’s, 28 walks, 43 IP). Centerville won the Centerville Sectional (Shenandoah 4-2, Hagerstown 14-8), Park Tudor Regional (Cascade 6-3, Heritage Christian 8-2) and Mooresville Semistate (Linton-Stockton 6-5). The Bulldogs have won eight in a row — including the school’s first-ever regional and semistate titles — following a three-game losing skid. The team strung together 11 victories April 20-May 9. Centerville head coach Tracey Crull (10th season, 120-94) says: “It’s absolutely madness. It’s crazy (the excitement in the community) … We have a walk-off (RBI single by Jamari Pamplin against Linton-Stockton to punctuate a two-run seventh) and we’re in the state title game. My phone, email, text messages, all kinds of messages have been blowing. It’s not just the Centerville community. It’s the whole county … We had a really tough week in May where we played our rival Hagerstown twice (in Tri-Eastern Conference Wayne County tournament games). We lost both ball games by a run (2-1 and 3-2 sandwiching a 10-0 loss at Lapel). After that week we had some long conversations as a team. We talked about focus. We talked about accountability. We talked about how we react to adversity. We then went on a run … We’ve had a stretch where we’ve hit the ball really well … It could be (Jacob Crowe or Logan Drook starting on the mound Friday). Logan gave up only one unearned run all year. They are completely different pitchers. Logan (who was the semistate starter) is a little bit harder thrower. He doesn’t give up as many hits. Jake gives up a few more hits, but he’s really good at keeping runners and batters off-balance with his motion and his delivery. It depends on whoever is feeling the best and having the best match-up Friday … Our boys like to see really good pitching (which the Bulldogs have faced in tournament play). I think it will be a good ball game (against Illiana Christian).”
Illiana Christian Top hitters: Jr. Kevin Corcoran (.471, 4 HR, 37 RBI), Sr. Ian VanBeek (.446, 22 RBI), Sr. Adam Walters (.410, 12 RBI), Sr. Tyler Barker (.373, 29 RBI), Jr. Cody DeJong (.351, 2 HR, 22 RBI), So. Isaac VanderWoude (.338, 19 RBI), Sr. Levi Hescott (.300, 12 RBI), Sr. Gabe VanRoekel (.282, 17 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. LHP Kevin Corcoran (4-1, 2.194, 75 K’s, 13 walks, 44 2/3 IP), Sr. RHP Ian VanBeek (3-2, 1.474, 56 K’s, 6 walks, 38 IP). Illiana Christian won the Whiting Sectional (Bowman Academy 19-0, Hammond Bishop Noll 3-1, Wheeler 16-4), Whiting Regional (Winamac 11-1, Eastside 7-0) and Kokomo Semistate (Wapahani 6-0). The Vikings have won a season-best seven straight games. There was a stretch from April 25 to May 2 where Illiana Christian went 2-4 with two losses to Griffith and one each against Highland and Hanover Central. The team has triumphed in 13 of its last 14. Illiana Christian head coach Jeff VanderWoude (Third season, 40-13) says: “Last year we had a younger team. I thought we were pretty good. Last year we ran into Rex Stills of Wheeler and lost that game 2-1 in the (Whiting) Sectional final … This year our (Bible) verse is James 1:2-3. It’s basically saying consider it pure joy when you hit trials and tribulations because our faith has been strengthened … This team turned around when they started playing for each other and not themselves. Our team does that extremely well, I am 100-percent convinced that’s exactly whey we’re in this position … We try to play the bigger schools (around northwest Indiana) … Kevin Corcoran competes really well. He’s a very athletic kid.”
Class 1A Tecumseh Top hitters: Jr. Conner Anglin (.472, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 13 SB), Jr. Brody Julian (.383, 14 RBI), Jr. Drew Dupont (.341, 2 HR, 27 RBI), Jr. Dax Bailey (.387, 1 HR, 27 RBI), So. D.J. Dupont (.298, 1 HR, 17 RBI, 15 SB), Jr. Chase Jones (.263, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 11 SB), Fr. Mason Gogel (.256, 18 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Dax Bailey (5-4, 3.35, 39 K’s, 22 walks, 54 1/3 IP), Jr. RHP Conner Anglin (5-2, 1.13, 28 K’s, 10 walks, 31 IP), Jr. RHP Drew Dupont (5-1, 3.00, 47 K’s, 23 walks, 42 IP). Tecumseh won the Cannelton Sectional (Northeast Dubois 9-8, Wood Memorial 11-2, Springs Valley 11-0), Loogootee Regional (New Washington 11-1, Barr-Reeve 4-1) and Jasper Semistate (Shakamak 12-3). The Braves have won a season-high nine straight games. The team, which has no seniors and four freshmen in the starting lineup, started out 1-4 and entered May 6-9. Of the 12 losses, seven are by two runs or fewer. Tecumseh head coach Ted Thompson (Fifth season, 77-44) says: “We started out struggling a little bit. Our four freshmen (Mason Gogel, Wyatt Huddleston, Braydon Long and Thomas Pemberton) were just learning how to play it at the varsity level. I thought by the time we were going to do tournament we were going to be in good shape as far as being able to compete at a high level … About the month of May everything started to click … Everything just really started to work well with our four freshmen and our juniors provided great leadership … We’ve made one — maybe two errors — in the last three weeks. It’s been really good defensively and we’ve just really played well … We try to load up our schedule (with 4A and 3A schools including Evansville North and Gibson Southern) to try to be competitive. We try to do everything we can to provide an atmosphere for our guys to improve … The first two weeks of the season we only pitch our pitches for 35 to 40 pitches. The second two weeks, which ends April, we don’t even get our pitchers above 60 pitches (with freshmen pitching often in relief) … For our young guys to really get some innings is going to be valuable for us not only this year, but next year as well … (The State Finals) is a brand new environment for everyone. They’ve never faced it before. We feel like we do a great job of preparing our guys for big moments. We put a lot of pressure on them in practice. We really drill them on a lot of different situations … We’ll definitely be focused on the Tecumseh Braves. We have a great philosophy and I believe we have a great system. We’ll try to give the kids an idea of what to expect. Lafayette Central Catholic is going to be a formidable opponent. We know they’re going to come at us with a lot of different variations of the game. I can tell you our players will be prepared for those moments. It’s all about execution.”
Lafayette Central Catholic Top hitters: Jr. Evan Dienhart (.462, 18 RBI), Jr. Owen Munn (.366, 1HR, 23 RBI), Jr. Ryan Schummer (.354, 2 HR, 26 RBI), So. Kayden Minnich (.270, 21 RBI), Sr. Justin Brady (.250, 1 HR, 21 RBI). Top pitchers: Jr. RHP Ben Mazur (8-1, 0.63, 96 K’s, 19 walks, 55 1/3 IP), So. RHP Brinn Robbins (8-1, 0.95, 61 K’s, 15 walks, 59 IP). Central Catholic won the Lafayette Central Sectional (Attica 13-1, Riverton Parke 8-0, Covington 10-0), Lafayette Central Regional (Union City 12-2, Rossville 10-0) and LaPorte Semistate (South Central of Union Mills 9-4 in 8 innings). The Knights have won a season-best 13 straight after a two-game losing streak. The team’s other setbacks came between April 1 and May 4. Knights head coach Tim Bordenet (27th season, 634-203) says: “We were kind of up-and-down until our (Hoosier) Conference championship against Western (a 6-1 victory on May 13 against University of Louisville pitching recruit Mitchell Dean). I think that was really the turning point. We had two games that week and were not playing that well. (Beating Western) proved to our guys that when we play the way we’re capable of we can compete and beat anybody … You’ve got to be able to get in a lot of hitters’ counts and put pressure on the opposing pitcher and opposing defense. Saturday (in the regional against South Central) we only had one hit for seven innings, but we did draw a lot of walks and hit by pitches and so we had a lot of traffic on the bases. I thought our approach at the plate was really good … We know we play a tough schedule and intentionally put ourselves in some adverse situations where we have to come back or hold on to a late lead in a close ballgame. Undoubtedly those situations have helped us here in the (state) tournament … We brought (junior right-hander) Evan Dienhart in (to pitch) with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game … He got a strikeout and fly out to get out of that inning … Our outfielders have to have good angles at balls in the gaps (at spacious Victory Field) and not let balls get past them. Fortunately for us, our outfield (senior Carter Johnson in left, Brinn Robbins in center and sophomore Kayden Minnich in right) is probably the strength of our team and has really good speed … Our kids are pretty savvy. The moments haven’t been too big for them to this point.”
Steve Swinson likes the kind of athletes he’s working with as the new head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School, part of the Metropolitan School District of Wabash (Ind.) County. “It’s been really good transition,” says Swinson, who has been leading the Knights since January. “The players’ philosophies are pretty much on the same page as myself. “These are competitive, hard-nosed kids. They want to succeed. They want to be better. “It’s a winning attitude at Southwood. They don’t throw in the towel.” During the IHSAA Limited Contact Period, Swinson has been working with players who are not involved in basketball. Twenty eight have signed up for Southwood baseball this spring. “We lost lost five pretty good seniors and a lot of pitching (from the 2021 team),” says Swinson. “The big thing is being consistent. not walking a lot of guys and letting the defense play behind us.” The coach is confident his Knights will do their best to do just that. “They’re going to work at it,” says Swinson. “By the end of the year they’re going to figure some things out.” An advocate of arm care, Swinson wants to make sure he’s maintaining the health of his throwers. “I like 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),” says Swinson. “A lot of it’s on the athlete. He has to make sure to take care of his arm.” Swinson, who is working with a coaching staff of Cory Blocker and Dan Lloyd at the varsity level and Christian Deeter with the junior varsity, sees college potential in senior left-handed pitcher Koby Thomas, junior catcher Mo Lloyd and junior right-handed pitcher/outfielder Cole Winer. Southwood (enrollment around 230) is a member of the Three Rivers Conference (with Maconaquah, Manchester, Northfield, North Miami, Peru, Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko). TRC play each other once and games on Tuesdays and Thursdays In 2021, the Knights were part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Caston (host), North Miami, North White, Northfield, Pioneer and West Central. Southwood has won five sectional titles — the last in 2021. Carson Rich (Class of 2021) tossed a no-hitter in a 4-0 championship game win against Pioneer. Fundraisers will be held to help maintain and upgrade Southwood’s home diamond located north of the football field on the northeast corner of the campus. Swinson says the batting cage is top priority. Dugouts are likely to be re-painted with trimming and edging done to the infield. Stepping down at Eastbrook High School near the end of the 2019 season, Swinson did not coach at high school baseball in 2020 and 2021 but did lead Indiana Nitro travel teams both summers. He was head baseball coach at Eastern (Greentown) High School 2007-11 and has assisted at Western High School. Swinson has served two stints as head wrestling coach at Northwestern High School and is currently head wrestling coach at Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind. A 1987 Kokomo High School graduate, he retired after 27 1/2 years with the Howard County Highway Department, where he was a supervisor/foreman. Swinson coached Southside baseball in Kokomo to the 1995 Bambino World Series in Abbeyville, La. His coaching stops also include Indiana Wesleyan University (football), Marion High School and Lewis Cass High School. Steve and wife of 29 years — Stacey — live in Greentown and have two children. Son Saxon Swinson (28) is in the IT department at Marian University in Indianapolis. Daughter Shayden Swinson (18) is a Manchester University freshman.
More Indiana college baseball teams got into the 2022 act this past week. Saint Francis won 8-4 and 9-3 at Bethel (Tenn.) Sunday, Feb. 6. Alec Brunson went 6-of-7 with a home run and four runs batted in on the day. Kaden Sullivan, David Miller and Tyler Prince also went deep for the Cougars. Grace went 3-1 Feb. 4-5 against Trinity International in Hoover, Ala., winning 22-1, 5-1 and 17-2 and losing 3-0. Chris Griffin (7-of-13 with three RBIs), Alex Rich (6-of-13 with five RBIs), Austin Carr (6-of-15 with a homer and six RBIs), Patrick Danforth (4-of-12 with four RBIs) and Sam Newkirk (4-of-12 with a homer and six RBIs) were among the hitting leaders for the Lancers. Indiana University-Kokomo opened its season by going 1-3 Feb. 5-6 in Shreveport, La., splitting two games with LSU Shreveport and dropping a pair to Loyola New Orleans. Oakland City edged Johnson University 11-10 Feb. 6 in Knoxville, Tenn. Bailey Falkenstien (2-for-5 with a homer and a double) and Treven Madden (1-fo-2 with a double) both knocked in three runs for the Mighty Oaks. Marian went 1-2 Feb, 4-5 against Truest-Mcconnell in Emerson, Ga. The Knights lost 5-2 and 9-4 and won 4-1. Bryce Davenport went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two runs scored for Marian in the victory. Bethel’s games at Champion Christian in Hot Springs, Ark., and Vincennes U.’s contests at Motlow State (Tenn.), were canceled.