Tag Archives: Mastodons

Jones returns to college coaching at Purdue Fort Wayne

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Ken Jones was very involved with baseball the past dozen years as an instructor.

He returned to the college coaching ranks in October 2019 and it “got juices flowing again.”

Jones, an assistant at NCAA Division I Purdue Fort Wayne, is senior lead instructor at the World Baseball Academy — also in Fort Wayne, Ind.

“It was a pretty good timing situation,” says Jones, who was asked to join the staff of new Mastodons head coach Doug Schreiber in the same town where he teaches lessons. “He was looking for some guys and I wanted to get back into it.”

Jones, 48, was an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Fred Decker at Western Michigan University (1999-2004) and assistant to Rich Maloney (1997 and 1998) at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., before going to work at WBA.

“Coach Decker treated you with a lot of respect and communicated very well,” says Jones. “He told you what he expected and you needed to do it. I still have a lot of his attitudes that I use today.”

“(Maloney) helped me get my start. He was really good on the infield. On the recruiting side, he was good as projecting what kids were going to be. He looked at their body type and athleticism. Mid-majors have to project some kids and then they develop over two or three years and become that top-level kid.”

Twice an academic All-American at WMU, where he earned a degree in aviation operations, he gained a master’s in sports administration at BSU in 1998.

The relationship at Purdue Fort Wayne brings together sons of baseball pioneers. Bill Jones and Ken Schreiber helped form the Indiana High School Baseball Association in 1971. The elder Jones was the organization’s executive director for many years. Schreiber won 1,010 games, seven state titles and was elected to 13 halls of fame. Jones passed away in 2015 and Schreiber in 2017.

“I think I’ve got my old dad in there,” says Jones of his coaching approach. “Every once in awhile you have to light a fire under a guy. You can’t be one-dimensional. You have to know your kid and know what works for them. You coach accordingly.

“When my dad coached you could be a little more tough, demanding and vocal. It was a different generation. You have to roll with the times a little bit and see how kids respond. It’s a different society. You have to understand how the kids tick.”

At PFW, Ken Jones has been working with hitters, catchers and outfielders.

“My strongest abilities lie with hitters,” says Jones, who came to find out that he shares a similar philosophy on that subject with Doug Schreiber. “We want low line drives. We want hitters to keep the barrel on the ball through the zone as long as possible.

“We want guys to focus gap to gap.”

Jones says his hitters sometimes ask questions about things like exit velocity and launch angle, but he has the Mastodons focusing on what happens once they strike the ball.

“We can still see what needs to be done without having all the bells and whistles,” says Jones, noting that PFW pitchers do some work with Rapsodo motion detection data. “In our first 15 games (before the 2020 season was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic), it was refreshing to see we had some decent results without all the technology focus.”

As a player for his father at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Ind., and for Decker at Western Michigan, Jones was a two-time all-Mid-American Conference catcher and was selected in the 33rd round of the 1995 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and played briefly in the San Diego Padres system.

His emphasis with Purdue Fort Wayne catchers has been on receiving, blocking and throwing.

“I’m learning through my son and other catching guys,” says Jones, whose son Hayden Jones, a lefty-swinging backstop who played at Carroll High School of Fort Wayne and sat out 2020 after transferring from Mississippi State University to Illinois State University. “I’m trying to gain some new knowledge.

“You never want to be satisfied with where you’re at and educate yourself on better ways to get things done. You soak in some information and put those things in your tool box. We do that as coaches and players. You figure out what works and what doesn’t work.”

The Mastodons coaching staff also features Brent McNeil and volunteer Gordon Cardenas.

McNeil is the pitching coach and organizes much of the recruiting. The coronavirus shutdown has made that process a little different.

“It’s phone calls,” says Jones. “We wan’t have kids on-campus. We are able to walk through campus with FaceTime.”

In some cases, a player might commit before ever coming to Fort Wayne.

Some summer collegiate baseball leagues have canceled their seasons and others are playing the waiting game.

“Guys will be scrambling (for places to play),” says Jones. “It will be a very fluid situation the whole summer for the college guys.”

KENJONESPURDUEFORTWAYNE

Ken Jones is an assistant baseball coach at Purdue Fort Wayne. He is also senior lead instructor at the World Baseball Academy in the same Indiana city. He was an assistant at Western Michigan (1999-2004) and Ball State University (1997 and 1998). (Purdue Fort Wayne Photo)

 

Coronavirus measures cause abrupt end to ’20 college baseball season in Indiana

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BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Who saw this coming?

Because of concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic, most of the college baseball seasons in Indiana came to a premature end.

COVID-19 has caused campuses to shut down with many schools going to remote learning and social distancing practiced across the country. The NCAA, NAIA and National Junior College Athletic Association all decided to cancel their tournaments and baseball schedules have been wiped out.

“It’s been a learning curve for everybody,” says 17th-year Bethel University coach Seth Zartman. “Everything just happened so fast. It almost seems surreal.”

On Monday, March 13, the Mishawaka-based Pilots were 45 minutes from an intra-squad session when the NAIA made its announcement.

That’s when Zartman and his assistants had to inform players that the season was over.

“It’s one of the most not-fun meetings I’ve ever had to do with the team,” says Zartman, who saw his team conclude 2019-20 at 19-7, including 11-0 in the fall. “We helped them get prepared for online classes. On Tuesday, we had equipment check-in. That’s where we’re sitting at this point.

“We’ll savor what we were able to get done and accomplish and move on.”

Junior Cole Searles hit .395 (32-of-81) for Bethel. Senior Mike Wathier (Crown Point High School graduate) hit .337, belted four home runs and drove in 29 runs. Senior Kawambee Moss hit. 382 and stole 15 bases.

Senior right-handed pitcher Justin Rasmussen went 6-1 with a 2.59 earned run average and 37 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.

For a few years, Bethel has taken advantage of an NAIA rule which allows baseball and softball teams to scheduled counter games in the fall.

“It’s something we’ve come to appreciate,” says Zartman. “It brings a better focus to our fall season. It helps us come closer to the 55-game limit and there’s nicer weather to do it in (in the fall).”

The NCAA (D-I) and NAIA granted every current spring sport athlete an extra year of eligibility if they want to use it.

“That’s another process we’re going to have to navigate,” says Zartman. “I’m not sure how many will come back or take advantage of that at this point.”

The NCAA is expected to announce its decision on other levels by March 20.

The Bethel campus is still open, but many students including players, have decided to go home and continue course work via computer. For that reason, Zartman expects that any exit interviews he does will likely be done by phone.

Zartman, with his office away from many of the other BU employees, has been diving into paperwork he probably would not have tackled until May or June. Wife Antira is a teacher in the Jimtown system and goes in three days a week. The four Zartman children are staying home like the rest of their schoolmates.

“We’re hanging onto a new normal right now,” says Zartman.

Of the 38 college baseball programs in Indiana, 13 are in the NAIA. Besides Bethel, they include Calumet of Saint Joseph, Goshen, Grace, Huntington, Indiana Tech, Indiana Wesleyan, Indiana University Kokomo, Indiana University South Bend, Indiana University Southeast, Marian, Saint Francis and Taylor.

When the season came to a halt, No. 12-ranked IU Southeast was 18-1. The New Albany-based Grenadiers’ last game was an 11-7 win against Lindsey Wilson in Columbia, Ky., on March 11. The only loss (6-5 in eight innings) came March 4 in the first game of a doubleheader at then-No. 25 Campbellsville (Ky.).

Sophomore Daunte Decello hit .519 (27-of-51) for the Grenadiers. Junior Clay Woeste (Lawrenceburg) hit .368, belted five homers, plated 25 runs and stole 15 bases.

Junior left-hander Hunter Kloke posted a 2.45 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.

Ben Reel, who has been IU Southeast’s head coach since 2009, is choosing to see the positives in the situation.

“I learned a lot during this time,” says Reel. “You think you’ve seen it all and done it all and you’re dead wrong.”

Reel recalls his high school psychology class and the five stages of grief and loss — denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

In talking with his network of fellow coaches, including former Grenadiers assistant Andrew Dickson (now at Yale, where the Ivy League was among the first to shut down for 2020), Reel found a recurring theme.

“We weren’t really prepared to be the middle men between our universities and our players,” says Reel. “They’re confused. They’re upset.

“You’re the point person to make sense of everything.”

Reel’s focus throughout his coaching career is to recruit people he wants to be around everyday.

“That’s what hurts the most,” says Reel. “We’re prevented from being around the people we love and that’s our players.”

Another message that Reel has bought into and that’s to use this time without daily baseball for personal growth.

“I’m going to get better at something,” says Reel. “You have time to do whatever you want do and whatever you need to do.”

NAIA

Brian Nowakowski’s Calumet College of St. Joseph Crimson Wave finished 3-11.

Sophomore Noah Miller hit .389 (14-of-36) and stole seven bases. Sophomore right-hander Zach Verta slugged two homers and drove in 11 runs while also going 2-1 as a pitcher. Junior Jake Everaert (Hebron) had a 6.50 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 18 innings.

The Alex Childers-coached Goshen Maple Leafs finished 7-11.

Senior Ben Longacre hit .361 (22-of-61). Freshman Nate Lange knocked in 12 runs and stole four bases.

Senior right-hander Braedon Evans posted a 5.75 ERA. Freshman right-hander Landon Roth went 2-0 on the mound. Sophomore right-hander Kade Gorman (Noblesville) fanned 17 batters in 18 1/3 innings.

Ryan Roth’s Grace Lancers went 6-10.

Sophomore Chris Griffin hit .415 (22-of-53). Senior David Anderson hit .315 drove in 12 runs. Sophomore Sam Newkirk smacked three homers. Freshman Patrick Danforth (Monrovia) stole four bases

Freshman Nick Stoltzfus went 2-0 on the bump. Junior Houston Haney (Westview) went 1-2 and posted a 3.46 ERA. Freshman Tanner Clark (Columbia City) whiffed 19 batters in 19 1/3 innings.

Mike Frame’s Huntington Foresters wound up at 5-7.

Junior Daniel Lichty hit .432 (19-of-44) and plated nine runs. Sophomore Langston Ginder (Fort Wayne Carroll) popped two homers. Sophomore Satchell Wilson (Lapel) stole four bases.

Senior left-hander Alex McCutcheon (Huntington North) went 2-2 as a pitcher. Senior right-hander Mason Shinabery (Bellmont) went 1-1 and produced a 1.38 ERA and fanned 25 in 26 innings.

Rich Benamin’s Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats went 10-9.

Junior Denver Blinn hit .369 (24-of-65) with four homers and 22 RBIs. Senior Tanner Killian hit .284 and belted five homers. Freshman Colby Jenkins (New Palestine) stole six bases.

Senior right-hander Conner Cantrell (Center Grove) went 3-1 on the mound. Senior left-hander Austin Swift delivered a 0.32 ERA and struck out 22 in 19 innings.

Todd Bacon’s Marian Knights finished 10-9.

Senior Shane Peisker hit .493 (34-of-69). Senior Evan Hickman (New Palestine) hit. 286 and drove in 16 runs. Four Knights — Hickman, sophomore Sean Dieppa, sophomore Caden Jones (Crawfordsville) and senior Caleb Myers (Lebanon) — rapped two homers each.

Freshman right-hander Trey Heidlage (Batesville) swiped five bases. Sophomore right-hander Ty Lautenschlager (West Vigo) went 3-0 as a pitcher. Junior right-hander Reese Wills (Hamilton Heights) fanned 28 in 18 2/3 innings.

The Saint Francis Cougars of Dustin Butcher concluded at 9-10.

Junior David Miller hit .308 (12-of-39) and stole seven bases. Senior Brady Harris (Cowan) hit .274 and collected 15 RBIs. Junior Mikhail McCowin (Fort Wayne Bishop Luers) smacked three homers. Senior Kyle DeKonick went 2-0 on the mound.

Senior left-hander Matt Fiorini (2-2) posted a 2.57 ERA and struck out 27 in 28 innings.

Kyle Gould’s Taylor Trojans went 13-5.

Sophomore Nick Rusche (New Palestine) hit .405 (30-of-74). Sophomore Ben Kalbaugh hit .379 and drove in 21 runs. Sophomore T.J. Bass (Greenwood Community) slammed six homers. Junior Jonathan Foster (Columbus East) stole six bases.

Junior right-hander Noah Huseman, senior right-hander Justin Pettit (Jennings County) and senior right-hander Tucker Waddups (Pioneer) are went 2-0 on the mound. Huseman produced a 3.00 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Doug Buysse’s Indiana University South Bend Titans went 7-9.

Sophomore Logan Young (Shelbyville) hit .405 (17-of-42) with two homers and 13 RBIs. Sophomore Colin Mack (Morgan Township) stole 11 bases.

Senior left-hander Troy Cullen (Griffith) went 2-2 posted a 2.87 ERA. Freshman right-hander Robbie Berger (John Glenn) went 2-1 and fanned 19 in 18 innings.

Matt Howard’s Indiana University Kokomo Cougars finished 12-10.

Senior Austin Weiler hit .405 (30-of-74) with five homers. Sophomore Noah Hurlock (Kokomo High School) hit .344 with three homers and knocked in 19 runs. Junior Jared Heard (New Castle) hit .343 with three homers and 15 RBIs. Junior Bryce Lenz (Avon) purloined seven bases.

Junior left-hander Owen Callaghan (Hamilton Southeastern) went 3-2 and pitched to a 3.41 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings.

Kip McWilliams’ No. 11 Indiana Tech Warriors wrapped at 11-5.

Junior Mike Snyder (Fort Wayne Northrop) hit .400 (20-of-50) with 10 homers and drove in 26 runs. Sophomore Jacob Daftari (Hamilton Southeastern) hit .359 with three homers. Junior Ashtin Moxey stole three bases.

Senior left-hander Charles Dunavan went 3-0 on the mound with a 1.88 ERA. Sophomore Hayes Sturtsman (Manchester) pitched to a 1.13 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 16 innings.

NCAA D-I

The NCAA Division I College World Series — held each year since 1947 — has been called off for 2020.

The state has nine D-I baseball programs — Ball State, Butler, Evansville, Purdue, Purdue Fort Wayne, Indiana, Indiana State, Notre Dame and Valparaiso.

Rich Maloney’s RPI No. 210 Ball State Cardinals (7-9) were led offensively by sophomore Noah Navarro (Avon), who hit .377 (20-of-53) with one homer and seven stolen bases. Junior Trenton Quartermaine hit .366 (18-of-50) with 13 RBIs.

Freshman left-hander Tyler Schweitzer (Hamilton Southeastern) went 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA. Junior right-hander Kyle Nicolas (0-1, 2.74) struck out 37 in 23 innings. Senior right-hander John Baker (1-2, 2.42) fanned 27 in 22 1/3 innings.

Dave Schrage’s RPI No. 231 Butler Bulldogs (8-7) were led at the plate by junior Nick Ortega, who hit .283 (13-of-46) with 11 RBIs.

On the mound, junior right-hander Jack Myers (Indianapolis Cathedral) went 2-2 with a 4.04 ERA and whiffed 34 batters in 24 2/3 innings. Junior right-hander Connor Schultz (2-1, 3.04) fanned 26 in 23 2/3 innings.

Wes Carroll’s RPI No. 195 Evansville Purple Aces (5-11) were paced at the plate by junior Mason Brinkley, who hit .359 (14-of-39), and junior Tanner Craig (Austin), who hit .345 (20-of-58) with seven homers and 19 RBIs. Senior Troy Beilsmith stolen six bases.

Sophomore right-hander Shane Gray (1-1, 3.57) struck out 19 in 22 2/3 innings. Senior left-hander Nathan Croner (1-1, 3.26) whiffed 18 in 19 1/3 innings. Senior right-hander David Ellis (Princeton Community) went 2-1 to lead the staff in victories.

Greg Goff’s RPI No. 134 Purdue Boilermakers (7-7) saw sophomore Evan Albrecht hit .364 (16-of-44) with 14 RBIs and three stolen bases, junior Ben Nisle (Lake Central) .320 (16-of-50), senior Skyler Hunter .315 (17-of-54) with 11 RBIs. Junior Miles Simington knocked in 10.

Freshman right-hander Jett Jackson (1-0, 1.89) with 13 strikeouts in 19 innings and wins leader and sophomore right-hander Cory Brooks (2-2, 5.12) with 16 K’s in 19 1/3 innings were among the pitching leaders.

Doug Schreiber’s RPI No. 262 Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons (5-10) was guided in the batter’s box by sophomore Aaron Chapman, who hit .382 (26-of-68) with 11 RBIs and sophomore Dylan Stewart, who hit .381 (16-of-42) with five stolen bases.

Senior right-hander Cameron Boyd (Fishers) went 2-2 with a 5.87 ERA and struck out 21 in 23 innings. Sophomore left-hander Justin Miller (Homestead) went 1-1 with a 5.94 ERA and fanned 20 in 16 2/3 innings.

Jeff Mercer’s RPI No. 39 Indiana Hoosiers (9-7) were guided at bat by sophomore Grant Richardson (Fishers), who hit .424 (25-of-59) with five homers and 17 RBIs and junior Elijah Dunham (Evansville Reitz), who hit .390 (23-of-59). Junior Drew Ashley (Evansville Memorial) hit .288 with two homers and drove in 12 runs. Jordan Fucci (.283) blasted two homers and plated 14. Junior Cole Barr (Yorktown) also smacked two homers. Senior Jeremy Houston swiped a team-best three bases.

Sophomore right-hander Gabe Bierman (Jeffersonville) went 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and struck out 24 in 22 innings. Junior left-hander Tommy Sommer (Carmel) went 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA and fanned 17 in 20 2/3 innings. Sophomore right-hander Brayden Tucker (Northview) went 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA and whiffed 10 in 19 2/3 innings.

Mitch Hannahs’ RPI No. 100 Indiana State Sycamores (8-6) were led offensively by freshman Dominic Cusumano, who hit .341 (14-of-41) and junior Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo), who hit .321 (17-of-53) with two stolen bases. Junior Miguel Rivera (.261) knocked in 11 runs and junior Brian Fuentes (.245) plated 10. Fuentes and freshman Diego Gines both belted two homers.

Freshman left-hander Cameron Edmonson (2-1, 1.96) struck out 25 in 18 1/3 innings. Senior right-hander Collin Liberatore (2-1, 4.95) whiffed 10 in 20 innings. Junior left-hander Tristan Weaver (1-1, 1.85) fanned 34 in 24 1/3 innings. Senior left-hander Tyler Grauer (0-1, 1.59) collected five saves and struck out 23 in 11 1/3 innings.

Link Jarrett’s RPI No. 31 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-2) were led at bat by junior Spencer Myers, who hit .431 (25-of-58) with 15 stolen bases and graduate student Eric Gilgenbach, who hit .370 (10-of-27). Junior Niko Kavadas (Penn) drove in 17 runs, freshman Jack Brannigan 11, Gilgenbach 10, sophomore Carter Putz 10 and junior Jared Miller 10.

Junior left-hander Tommy Vail (3-0, 2.08) produced 24 strikeouts with 17 1/3 innings while junior left-hander Tommy Sheehan (3-0, 2.70) whiffed 22 in 23 1/3 innings.

Brian Schmack’s RPI No. 152 Valparaiso Crusaders (2-10) saw senior Riley Dent hit .311 (19-of-61) with one homer and seven RBI. Juniors Troy Jones and Jonathan Temple also plated seven runs apiece. Freshman Nolan Tucker (Hanover Central) swiped four bases.

Senior right-hander Easton Rhodehouse (1-2, 3.45) struck out 20 in 15 2/3 innings.

NCAA D-II

Al Ready’s Indianapolis Greyhounds finished 12-3.

Senior and Center Grove product Will Smithey (8-of-20) and sophomore Ty Williams (10-of-25) both hit .400. Smithey has four homers, 16 RBIs and three stolen bases.

Senior left-hander Myc Witty (Lawrence North) and senior right-hander Reid Werner (Greenwood Community) were both 3-0 on the mound. Witty has a 1.59 ERA. Senior left-hander Corey Bates (1-1) has fanned 30 batters in 18 1/3 innings.

Tracy Archuleta’s Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles finished 6-8.

Senior Manny Lopez hit .356 (16-of-45) with two homers and 12 RBIs. Sophomore Lucas McNew (Borden) hit .327 with two homers and 12 RBIs. Junior Ethan Hunter (Terre Haute South Vigo) and junior Bryce Krizan (Mount Vernon of Posey) had three stolen bases apiece.

On the mound, senior right-hander Tyler Hagedorn (Evansville North) went 2-0 and senior right-hander Jacob Bowles was 2-1. Sophomore left-hander Sammy Barnett (Silver Creek) struck out 16 in 14 innings.

T-Ray Fletcher’s Oakland City Mighty Oaks finished 4-9.

Senior Devan Franz (Boonville) hit .375 (15-of-40) with a homer and 10 RBIs.

Senior right-hander Tristan Cummings (Tecumseh) went 2-2 on the mound with a 2.28 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.

Dave Griffin’s Purdue Northwest Pride wound up 4-5.

Senior Danny Schneberger hit .308 (4-of-13). Senior Hunter Thorn (Portage) hit a homer and drove in five runs. Junior Jacob Soules stole three bases.

Freshman right-hander Hunter Robinson (New Prairie) went 2-0 on the hill. Freshman right-hander Tristan Baker (Fishers) posted a 1.50 ERA. Junior right-hander Chad Patrick (Hebron) racked up 12 strikeouts in 10 innings.

NCAA D-III

Matt Bair’s Anderson Ravens finished 6-3.

Junior Joe Moran (Anderson High School) hit .563 (18-of-32) with one homer and six stolen bases. As a right-handed pitcher, he was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 20 innings. He is slated to be the Heartland College Athletic Conference’s first player in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer.

Freshman Justin Reed (Martinsville) hit .286 with nine RBIs. Senior Branton Sanders (Whiteland) swiped eight bases. Junior left-hander Kasey Henderson (Cowan) was also 2-0 on the bump.

Blake Allen’s DePauw Tigers went 4-4 with sophomore Evan Barnes hitting .444 (8-of-18), freshman Kyle Boyer .375 (9-of-24) with two homers, junior Jackson Williams (Brebeuf Jesuit) .344 (11-of-32) and sophomore Kyle Callahan (Zionsville) .324 (11-of-32) with two homers and 18 RBIs.

Senior right-hander Tom Giella went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and nine strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

The Earlham Quakers of Steve Sakosits wound up at 7-3.

Junior Brian Pincura hit .346 (9-of-26) and junior Marc Gendreau .341 (15-of-44). Senior Danny Dopp homered twice and knocked in 13 runs. Senior Isaiah Shake (Bloomington South) stole nine bases.

Sophomore right-hander Aidan Talarek went 2-0 with an 0.00 ERA on the hill. Senior right-hander Kyle Gorman fanned 19 batters in 16 1/3 innings.

The Franklin Grizzlies of Lance Marshall went 5-3.

Junior Logan Demkovich (Munster) hit .500 (10-of-20) with 12 RBIs. Senior Jarrod Smith (Frankfort) batted .400 with two homers. Seniors Ryan Bixler (Lewis Cass), Brandt Pawley and Quenton Wellington (Indianapolis Bishop Chatard) had stolen three bases each.

On the mound, junior right-hander Mitch Merica (North Montgomery) finished 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.

Grant Bellak’s Hanover Panthers went 7-7.

Sophomore Charlie Burton (Columbus East) hit .353 (18-of-51) with three homers and 12 RBIs and sophomore Jake Schaefer .350 (14-of-40) with five stolen bases.

Sophomore left-hander Andrew Littlefield went 2-1 on the mound with a 3.32 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 19 innings. Junior right-hander Justin Pope (Fishers) whiffed 14 in 10 2/3 innings.

Rick Espeset’s Manchester Spartans wrapped at 2-5.

Junior Joe Henschel (Fort Wayne Carroll) hit .409 (9-of-22) with two homers and eight RBIs.

Senior right-hander Nick Rush (Terre Haute North Vigo) went 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and had nine strikeouts in nine innings. Sophomore right-hander Zach White (Logansport) went 1-0, 1.13) and fanned eight in eight innings.

Rose-Hulman’s Jeff Jenkins earned his 800th career coaching victory March 3 against Saint Joseph’s (Maine) in Florida. His Fightin’ Engineers finished 4-3.

Freshman Andy Krajecki hit. 438 (7-of-16), sophomore Josh Mesenbrink .417 (10-of-24) and junior Luke Kluemper (Monrovia) .409 (9-of-22). Junior Shaine Mitchell (Brebeuf Jesuit) stole three bases.

Senior left-hander Luke Buehler (Guerin Catholic) went 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA and was among the pitching leaders. Sophomore right-hander Matthew Rouse racked up 12 strikeouts in 10 innings

The Trine Thunder wrapped at 9-2 under coach Greg Perschke.

Junior A.J. Mitchell hit .375 (15-of-40), Jake Conley .333 with 11 RBIs and Shayne Devine (Portage) hit .364 with 10 RBIs. Senior Nick Ricci (Crown Point) cracked the lone homer.

Junior left-hander Kyle Robinson (2-0, 0.00), sophomore right-hander Bryce Bloode (2-0, 2.93) and junior right-hander Drew Cebulak (1-0, 1.50) with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings were among the mound leaders. Robinson prepped at Crown Point and Bloode at New Prairie.

Jake Martin’s Wabash Little Giants finished 6-2.

Senior Jackson Blevins (Plainfield) hit .500 (15-of-30). Junior Andrew Jumonville (Munster) drove in nine runs. Junior Sean Smith (Peru) hit both of the team’s homers and was 2-0 on the mound. Sophomore Austin Simmers (Jasper) stole three bases.

Junior Tyler Dearing (McCutcheon) went 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and whiffed 16 in 11 innings.

JUNIOR COLLEGE

Chris Woodruff’s Ancilla Chargers wound up 5-10.

Freshman Daniel Wright (Western) hit .350 (7-of-20). Emitt Zimmerman (Carroll of Flora) knocked in nine runs. Freshman Bryce Huntley (New Castle) swiped four bases.

Freshman left-hander Weston Record (Logansport) was the pitching workhorse, going 1-2 with a 4.07 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.

The Ivy Tech Northeast Titans finished 6-5 under coach Lance Hershberger.

Sophomore Eric Doyle (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) hit .553 (21-of-38) with 11 stolen bases and freshman Robert Irgang (Wabash) .529 (9-of-17) with 10 RBIs.

Sophomore Brandon Bultemeier (Adams Central) went 2-0, 1.46 and sophomore Matt Jindra (Valparaiso) 0-0, 2.25 with 14 strikeouts in 16 innings as pitching stalwarts.

Chris Barney’s Vincennes Trailblazers went 10-5.

Sophomore Ryan Robison (New Albany) hit .404 (19-of-47) with three homers and 21 RBIs and freshman Landen Freestone (Shenandoah) .400 (12-of-30). Sophomore Jared Sermerheim (Jasper) stole eight bases.

Sophomore right-hander Nate Toone (3-0, 3.48) struck out 19 in 20 2/2 innings while left-hander Robison (2-0, 0.89) fanned 20 in 20 1/3 innings.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL

Final 2020 Records

NCAA Division I

Ball State 7-9 (0-0 Mid-American)

Butler 8-7 (0-0 Big East)

Evansville 5-11 (0-0 Missouri Valley)

Indiana 9-6 (0-0 Big Ten)

Indiana State  8-6 (0-0 Missouri Valley)

Notre Dame 11-2 (3-0 Atlantic Coast)

Purdue 7-7 (0-0 Big Ten)

Purdue Fort Wayne 5-10 (0-0 Summit)

Valparaiso 2-14 (0-0 Missouri Valley)

NCAA Division II

Indianapolis 12-3 (2-1 Great Lakes Valley)

Oakland City 4-9

Purdue Northwest 4-5 (0-0 Great Lakes Intercollegiate)

Southern Indiana 6-8 (1-1 Great Lakes Valley)

NCAA Division III

Anderson 6-3 (0-0 Heartland)

DePauw 4-4 (0-0 North Coast)

Earlham 7-3 (0-0 Heartland)

Franklin 5-3 (0-0 Heartland)

Hanover 7-7 (0-0 Heartland)

Manchester 2-5 (0-0 Heartland)

Rose-Hulman 4-3 (0-0 Heartland)

Trine 9-2 (0-0 Michigan Intercollegiate)

Wabash 6-2 (0-0 North Coast)

NAIA

Bethel 19-7 (2-1 Crossroads)

Calumet of Saint Joseph 3-11 (0-0 Chicagoland)

Goshen 7-11 (2-1 Crossroads)

Grace 6-10 (1-3 Crossroads)

Huntington 5-7 (3-0 Crossroads)

Indiana Tech 11-5 (0-0 Wolverine-Hoosier)

Indiana Wesleyan 10-9 (3-0 Crossroads)

Indiana University-Kokomo 12-10 (5-1 River States)

Indiana University South Bend 7-9 (0-0 Chicagoland)

Indiana University Southeast 18-1 (6-0 River States)

Marian 10-9 (0-3 Crossroads)

Saint Francis 9-10 (0-3 Crossroads)

Taylor 13-5 (1-2 Crossroads)

Junior College

Ancilla Chargers 5-10 (0-0 Michigan Community)

Ivy Tech Northeast 6-5

Vincennes 10-5 (0-0 Mid-West)

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Clay Woeste makes a throw for the 2020 Indiana Univesity Southeast baseball team. The New Albany-based Grenadiers were 18-1 when the season came to a sudden halt because of concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). (Indiana University Southeast Photo)

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Bethel University (Mishawaka, Ind.) celebrates one of its 2020 baseball victories. The Pilots went 19-7 in 2019-20. The season was shortened when the NAIA shut down because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Bethel University Photo)

 

Schreiber looks for Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons to be in ‘overachieve mode’

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BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

New Purdue Fort Wayne head baseball Doug Schreiber has been defining the culture for his Mastodons.

With the help of PFW assistants Brent McNeil, Ken Jones and Gordon Cardenas, attitude will be at the forefront.

“We’re going to have to be in overachieve mode somewhat,” says Schreiber, who was hired at PFW in July 2019. “We’re going to be looking at players to play a little bit above their skill level.

“To be able to overachieve, you have to have the intangibles. You have to have the proper attitude and outlook. We’re recruiting attitude and that’s going to be a big focus.

“We want to make sure guys understand that having a positive attitude, a maturity level and a passion to play is the foundation of the program with respect, work ethic and trust being some of the cornerstones of what we’re trying to build.”

Schreiber says he makes few guarantees to his players. He doesn’t promise them he’ll add 10 mph to their fastball, get them drafted or even give them a starting position.

“One of the things I think I can guarantee is that if you don’t have the right attitude and the right mindset, you definitely aren’t going to overachieve and play above your skill set,” says Schreiber. “You are probably going to play below your skill set.”

A head coach for 20 seasons in West Lafayette, Ind., — 18 at Purdue University (1999-2016) and two at McCutcheon High School (20018-19), Schreiber knows that Purdue Fort Wayne may not be the biggest school with the very best facilities.

But the Mastodons are NCAA Division I and expect to be competitive at that level while playing home games at Mastodon Field and training in the strength & fitness area inside the Hilliard Gates Sports Center.

How does Schreiber and company recognize the intangibles during the recruiting process?

Stuff on the mound, bat speed and range in the field are fairly evident. It’s not as obvious with other attributes.

“It’s tough.” says Schreiber. “You do have to spend a little more time. In some of the recruiting opportunities, you just get a quick look.”

Because of NCAAA rules, coaches don’t get spend as an inordinate amount of time with the prospective student-athlete. That’s where they rely on the players’ coaches (high school, travel, junior college).

Schreiber said the vetting process also includes the answers that come from casual conversation.

The Mastodons staff has learned how to read body language. It’s something they pick up on when watching a recruit when they or their teammates are struggling and it’s something they can see in players on the roster.

“We can’t see what’s inside their head, their heart or their gut,” says Schreiber. “The best way you have at least a clue on what’s going on in there is their body language.

“It definitely is a red flag when you see some disrespect and those types of things.”

It’s important because there are only so many roster spots available (up to 35 with 11.7 scholarships at the D-I level) and coaches have to get it right.

“Within their baseball life, we’re going to have compassion for them as individuals with anything that’s going on in their life,” says Schreiber. “But we just don’t have time for them to feel sorry for themselves.

“It’s a tough enough game that if they start to feel sorry for themselves, that’s the beginning of a negative attitude. They’re going to start making excuses, blaming other people or not taking responsibility. We have to have student-athletes that are mature enough and coachable enough to be able to handle adversity and persevere through those types of things.”

Schreiber says human beings have negative thoughts. What are done with those are the key.

“Do you act out on them?,” says Schreiber. “Do you voice your negative opinion? There’s all kinds of things that can get you in trouble.

“We have to teach them how to channel those negative thoughts into some positive action and positive thoughts.”

Schreiber also puts stock in mental development. With that in mind, he will have his players in classroom settings taking part in open discussions on life skills.

Topics will include “a winning mentality vs. a whining mentality” plus leadership, team unity and much more.

Prior to taking over at Purdue, Schreiber served as an assistant at Ball State University (1991-92), Butler University (1993), the University of Notre Dame (1994) and Arizona State University (1995-98).

That’s why he values his experience at McCutcheon. When he went into coaching, he thought he would be at the high school level — something his father — 13-time Hall of Famer Ken Schreiber excelled at for 39 years at LaPorte (Ind.) High School.

“I had the opportunity to keep staying at Division I,” says Schreiber. “It  just kept working out.

“To (coach) at McCutcheon, where (Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer) Jake Burton had built the program up to such a high caliber was a great experience.”

Working with high school student-athletes, Schreiber learned about patience.

“I feel like I became a better coach by coaching younger players,” says Schreiber. “Those are the players we’re going to be recruiting now.

“Getting in-tune with how they communicate amongst each other and with coaches, parents and everything was an important piece of it, too.”

After his coaching tenure at Purdue, Schreiber went into an academic job at the school then got his real estate license, but never got into that field too heavily with his coaching position at McCutcheon.

I knew I wanted to continue to coach,” says McCutcheon. “I looked into few opportunities, but when this one (at Purdue Fort Wayne) came forward it was something I was very, very interested in and was very fortunate I got the opportunity to do it.”

“Staying in Indiana was important to my wife (McCutcheon guidance counselor Sarah) and I. We had visited and done some things in Fort Wayne. I’ve recruited over here.

“Fort Wayne is a great city. It’s got a lot of everything, but it still has the small Midwest town feel.”

The Schreiber have purchased a home in Fort Wayne, meaning the coach does not have the long commute he had when he first was hired.

“Other than that, it’s been smooth and thoroughly enjoyable,” says Schreiber of the transition. “Everything has been quality. I’ve got great support from our athletic director.”

Mastodons AD Kelley Hartley Hutton was head women’s volleyball coach for 15 seasons and 13 years as Senior Woman Administrator PFW. She was a four-year player at the University of Toledo.

“She understands the coach’s perspective,” says Schreiber. “We’re into having the best student-athlete experience possible. She gets it from both ends (coach and athlete).”

Staying in the state also allows Schreiber to keep his well-established network of high school and travel ball coaches. There’s also the junior colleges in the region.

This fall, recruiting has included plenty of looks at junior college players, who tend to be more mature physically and mentally.

“That’s not to say we’re not interested in high talent high school players as well,” says Schreiber. “We’re going to try to stay very strong in Indiana — players that have gone on to junior college and those from high schools.”

Ideally, most players will be on-campus for four or five years, giving time to mature and grow into leadership roles.

“There’s a always a little bit of a learning curve,” says Schreiber. “Ultimately, our base is going to be four-year players with a good mix of junior college players.”

Purdue Fort Wayne also participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, where students from several surrounding states get a break on out-of-state tuition. That allows Schreiber and company to take a little wider look while keeping Indiana as the recruiting base.

PFW is currently a member of the Summit League (with North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, South Dakota State and Western Illinois). The Mastodons are joining the Horizon League in 2020-21. The league currently features Milwaukee, Northern Kentucky, Oakland, University of Illinois-Chicago, Wright State and Youngstown State.

Schreiber says geography is one factor for the switch.

“Student-athletes are missing a lot of class because of the distance,” says Schreiber. “We do create things with scheduling in the spring that allows them to minimize missed classes.”

That includes moving classes away from late in the day Thursday or altogether Friday and taking more online classes. On the road, there is quiet time for study on the bus and in the hotel. With some long road trips ending on Monday morning, a premium is placed on time and priority management.

“It’s going to benefit them from an academic standpoint,” says Schreiber of the move to the Horizon.

With Schreiber’s hiring, the Slicer quotient doubled for the Mastodons. Doug is a 1982 LaPorte High School graduate. Mastodons senior first baseman Travis Upp, son of current LaPorte head coach Scott Upp, got his diploma at LPHS in 2016.

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Doug Schreiber is the head baseball coach at Purdue University Fort Wayne (Ind.) (Steve Krah Photo)

 

Herrold, Bluffton Tigers preparing to prowl in 2019

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

For Stacy Herrold, coaching baseball is not just about balls and strikes, safe and out.

“I look to create those relationships with my boys,” says Herrold, who will make the 2019 season his third as head coach and the eighth in the program at Bluffton (Ind.) High School.

The Tigers went 5-21 in Herrold’s first season in charge. After graduating one senior, Bluffton went and 15-11 in 2018, bowing 7-3 to South Adams in the IHSAA Class 2A Adams Central Sectional championship game. South Adams lost 1-0 to eventual state champion Boone Grove in the Whiting Regional final.

There are 11 players back, including Kankakee Community College commit Gavin King, from that Bluffton team this spring.

“We’re going to have a good run,” says Herrold. “I’m excited.”

Herrold is a 2004 graduate of Caston Junior/Senior High School in Fulton, Ind., where he played two years for coach Mike Buczkowski then two for Clay Hannah.

“He was super-patient,” says Herrold of Buczkowski, son of late Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Len Buczkowski. “He wanted to stick with the process. “That’s something I didn’t do very well my first season (at Bluffton) after inheriting a team that was 5-24 the year before.

“(Hannah) wanted us just to compete. He always used that word. He wanted guys who would compete day in and day out.”

After high school, right-handed pitcher Herrold spent five years at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne (he was redshirted for one season) and his head coach was Billy Gernon for the first four seasons and Bobby Pierce for the last.

“They had completely different styles, but both had great ways of getting things done,” says Herrold of Gernon and Pierce. “I owe them both a lot.”

“Coach Gernon was the epitome of a college coach. You clock in, work hard and take care of your studies.

“Coach Pierce had more of a pro style coaching philosophy. He trusted us more to get the job done. He didn’t have to watch us like a hawk. It was more about growing as individuals and molding into a collaborative team.”

Herrold, who had Tommy John, ulnar nerve and sports hernia surgeries during his career, is also greatful for Mastodons pitching coach Grant Birely.

“Coach Birely made me so much better of a pitcher,” says Herrold. “I started feeling the ball better out of my hand and having more success.”

One of the highlights was a 4-1 complete-game loss against a strong University of Michigan team in 2009.

Gernon played for Bob Morgan at Indiana University.

“I met Bob Morgan,” says Herrold. “(Gernon) was a spitting image of Bob Morgan. He was intense. He worked us hard. He got the best out of our bodies.

“I also remember he had a plethora of life quotes. I use quotes everyday with my practice plan.”

During this limited contact period, baseball is coordinating with other spring sports for practice time in the “Concrete Jungle” portion of The Tiger Den.

“We use those two hours to the best of our ability, getting arms in shape so we can long toss with the 120- to 150-foot area we have,” says Herrold. “We focus on bullpens, conditioning and taking as many swings as a we can so we can hit the ground running when the first pitch comes.

“If it’s 40 or above, we’ll go out on the turf on the football field.”

The three-sport athlete is not uncommon at Bluffton (enrollment around 470). The Tigers part of the Allen County Athletic Conference (with Adams Central, Heritage, Jay County, South Adams, Southern Wells and Woodlan).

Bluffton is in an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Adams Central, Churubusco, Fort Wayne Canterbury, South Adams and Woodlan. The Tigers have won four sectionals — the last in 2009.

Herrold is getting Bluffton players ready for the 2019 season with the help of assistants Kevin Powell (varsity), Eric Mettler (JV) and Ryan Crist (JV). Powell is a Norwell High School graduate. He teaches in the engineering department at Bluffton and helped place new railings and netting in front of the dugouts at the Tigers’ home field located northwest of the football stadium. Mettler (who pitched at Marietta (Ohio) College) and Crist are Bluffton graduates.

Koltan Moore (Kankakee CC) is a recent Bluffton grad who moved on to college baseball. Dane Hoffman (University of Saint Francis) is another. Jake Garrett finished at the Fort Wayne school two years ago.

In June, Bluffton, New Haven, Adams Central, Heritage and South Adams are among teams who play Monday and Wednesday doubleheaders to give returning players more reps.

Bluffton Youth Baseball has leagues from T-ball to Koufax division (ages 13-15). Area travel teams that attack Tigers include the Bluffton Bandits, Berne Bears and Summit City Sluggers.

Herrold is a sixth grade science teacher at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School. He and wife Andrea (a Fort Wayne Bishop Luers High School graduate) have two children — daughter Finlay (5) and son Hayden (3).

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Stacey Herrold and his Bluffton Tigers celebrate winning the Garrett Invitational in 2018.

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The Herrolds (clockwise from upper left): Stacy, Andrea, Hayden and Finlay. Stacy is head baseball coach at Bluffton (Ind.) High School and teaches sixth grade science at Bluffton-Harrison Middle School.

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Stacy Herrold enters his eighth season as a baseball coach at Bluffton (Ind.) High School in 2019. It will be his third as head coach of the Tigers.

 

Purdue Fort Wayne’s Birely helps pitchers navigate a world of knowledge

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Blending various talents into a cohesive unit, helping them navigate a world of knowledge and encouraging a flow of ideas.

This is what Grant Birely gets to do as pitching coach at NCAA Division I Purdue Fort Wayne (formerly Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne).

Birely, 36, has been on the job since the 2009 season. The Mastodons are scheduled to open the 2019 campaign Feb. 15-17 with four games at Alabama A&M.

The Purdue Fort Wayne roster features 14 active pitchers with two who will likely be medical redshirts.

“I make an individual plan with each of them to become the best they can,” says Birely. “As they get older and go through the program, they take a lot of ownership of their own development and I become a consultant for them. With the young guys, it’s about teaching them what it takes to pitch at this level.”

Birely says the cornerstone of Mastodons pitching is throwing and learning to spin pitches.

“In some form or fashion, there is throwing each day,” says Birely. “It might be 60 feet one day just to get loose. It might be 350 feet if they’re going to long toss that day. I don’t put a distance restriction on them. We tell them to listen to their arm and see how it feels each day.”

The point is, collegiate pitchers are asked to throw a lot.

“There’s no better way to learn to throw than to throw,” says Birely. “We’re working on their craft every single day.”

Playing baseball at the college level, especially Division I, is a major commitment between school work and hours spend getting ready for and playing games.

“We spend everyday with them and they spend so much time on it, they have to love baseball and showing up everyday and working on it,” says Birely. “One thing they’ll leave with is time management when they head into the real world.”

Purdue Fort Wayne pitchers do a hybrid training program that includes band work, stretching and some weighted-ball movements.

“We don’t dive straight into a full weight-ball program because these guys are competing the minute they get on-campus,” says Birely. “They never really have that down time to solely focus on velocity or anything like that. We’re always trying to work on command (of the strike zone) and commanding a second pitch.”

When the weather keeps the Mastodons off the frozen tundra, they do their throwing in a spacious fieldhouse large enough to make tosses of up to 250 or 260 feet.

“We’re very lucky to have that,” says Birely. “It’s just high enough so they can get a little bit of air under the baseball.”

The top two pitchers from 2018 in terms of innings pitched and victories are gone. Right-hander Brandon Phelps, a Fort Wayne Snider High School graduate, pitched 83 innings and won five games as a redshirt senior. Left-hander Damian Helm worked 73 1/3 innings with four victories in his senior season.

As the Mastodons head into the only four-game series of 2019, Birely says junior right-hander Chase Phelps (Brandon’s brother and also a Fort Wayne Snider graduate), junior right-hander Cameron Boyd (Fishers) and redshirt senior right-hander Shane Odzark will get the first opportunity to be starting pitchers.

The bullpen is being built with establishing strength in the late innings as a priority.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are excited to try to go and finish games,” says Birely, who counts freshman left-hander Justin Miller (Homestead), sophomore right-hander Sean Ferguson (New Haven) and freshman right-hander Jarrett Miller in the closer mix.

Other right-handers include sophomore Trevor Armstrong (Fort Wayne Snider), sophomore Nathan Hefle, freshman Garrett Hill (University), junior Tyler Kissinger, junior Duane Miller, sophomore Brian Skelton (Westfield) and redshirt freshman Cade Willard (Eastside).

Another lefty is sophomore Spencer Strobel (Avon).

Birely says two freshmen right-hander — Grant Johnston (Hamilton Southeastern) and Drew Pyle (Hagerstown) — have had injuries that will likely make them redshirts.

The pitching coach has learned that he is dealing with players who have different ways of learning. They might be visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.

“We have some guys who like to see themselves on video and they can make adjustments based off that,” says Birely. “Some guys I have to put in a position kind of in a kinesthetic way so they can feel it.

“It’s definitely a challenge to figure out each guy.”

And figuring it out is key.

“Anyone who is teaching might be the smartest person in the world but if they can’t get that information to the players, it doesn’t really work and it doesn’t help,” says Birely. “It’s been fun finding different ways to teach and different ways to convey information that I have to them.”

Birely notes that the current generation — Generation Z — gets a bad rap for asking so many questions.

“They have all this information at their finger tips,” says Birely. “Some of it is good and some of it is not good.

“I’d rather have them ask me a question or to try to figure something out than to just go and do it on their own.”

Group chats are a way that information is exchanged.

A pitcher will see a video in social media and ask, “what do you think of this, Coach?.”

Birely asks his hurlers to identify their favorite major league pitcher.

“That gives me some insight of who they’re going to watch,” says Birely. “My favorite pitcher to watch growing up was Greg Maddux. I was never the big velocity guy. Watching him throw a baseball looked like watching a wiffleball.”

He also followed the fortunes of another future Hall of Famer. Roy Halladay went to high school just a few years before Birely in nearby Denver suburb of Arvada.

Birley is a graduate of Chatfield Senior High School in Littleton, Colo. He played for current Purdue Fort Wayne head coach Bobby Pierce at Central Arizona College (the Vaqueros won the 2002 National Junior College Division I World Series) then finished his collegiate career at the University of New Orleans. That’s where he met his future wife, Bonnie. The two were living in the Big Easy when Hurricane Katrina hit and they moved closer to Grant’s family in Denver.

Retired as a player after one season of independent baseball with the Mesa Miners, Birley went into the business world when a friend asked him to help with freshmen tryouts at Regis Jesuit High School, figuring it would just be for a few hours on a Saturday.

“From the moment I walked out there, I was hooked,” says Birely, who spent two seasons at Regis Jesuit in Aurora, Colo. When Pierce became head coach at Metropolitan State University of Denver, he invited Birely to become Roadrunners pitching coach. When Pierce moved to Indiana to lead the IPFW Mastodons, he asked Birely to come with him.

“I wouldn’t have this opportunity without him,” says Birely of Pierce. “He’s been a mentor and a great person to learn from.

“The best thing about him is that he lets everybody in the organization from players to staff go do their job

he gives them the freedom and creativity to make the program better.”

Pierce promotes a spirit of working together for a common goal.

“He’s very positive,” says Birley. “He’s great to work for. He’s awesome to play for. He allows the players the freedom to exchange ideas.

“Let’s figure it out together.”

Grant and Bonnie Birely have figured out how to balance baseball and family life. The couple has two children — Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger High School senior Tyler (who is active in theater and show choir) and sixth grader Kaylee.

“Like everyday says you’ve got to have a very understand wife,” says Grant. “She’s on this journey with me. Otherwise, I couldn’t do this.

“She keeps the fort going at home.”

Purdue Fort Wayne plays in the Summit League (with North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, South Dakota State and Western Illinois). That makes for a good deal of travel. When the Mastodons go to the Dakotas, they often leave campus on Wednesday night and return at noon Monday.

“(Players) do a great job of doing their schoolwork on the road,” says Birely. “It’s not uncommon to walk through a hotel lobby and there’s 25 or 30 guys doing their homework.

It’s not uncommon for players to ask for the movies to be turned off on the bus to study for an upcoming test.

“We’ve had guys who understand what it means to be a true student-athlete,” says Birely. “It goes back to time management. They have to rely on themselves a lot to make sure they’re getting their work done.”

Coaches will proctor tests for professors, who email the exam and set the time limit and have the coaches sent it back. Other take online classes to allow flexibility and no requirement to be in a classroom.

Christine Kuznar is Senior Associate Athletic Director for Academics and meets with players each semester to them on-track toward getting their degree as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“She’s the rock star behind the whole thing,” says Birely.

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Purdue Fort Wayne was formerly known as Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne. In its new branding, the Mastodons have adopted black and gold as school colors with a hint of blue as homage to the IPFW brand. (Purdue Fort Wayne Image)

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Grant Birely, the baseball pitching coach at Purdue Fort Wayne, is a native of Colorado who played and coached for Mastodons head coach Bobby Pierce before following him to Indiana. (Purdue Fort Wayne Photo)

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Grant Birely has been baseball pitching coach at Purdue Fort Wayne (formerly Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne) since the 2009 season. (Purdue Fort Wayne Photo)

 

 

IU, Purdue bow out in D-I regionals; Indiana’s 36 other college baseball teams wrap up 2018 season

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The state’s two Big Ten schools — Indiana University and Purdue University — both saw the 2018 college baseball season come to a close at the NCAA Regional level.

Minnesota and Ohio State were the other two conference schools to get an NCAA bid.

The Chris Lemonis-coached Hoosiers (40-19) went 2-2 at the Austin (Texas) Regional.

Coach Mark Wasikowski’s Boilermakers (38-21) went 1-2 at the Chapel Hill Regional.

Once again, Tracy Archuleta took the University of Southern Indiana (36-23) in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament. A national champion in 2010 and 2014, the Screaming Eagles went 0-2 in Cary, N.C., this time.

At the NCAA D-III level, Lance Marshall’s Franklin College team (39-5) and Jake Martin’s Wabash College (32-17) squad both advanced to regional tournaments before bowing out.

Five coaches — Kip McWilliams of Indiana Tech (44-21), Rich Benjamin of Indiana Wesleyan University (37-20), Ben Reel of Indiana University Southeast (41-14), Todd Bacon of Marian University (24-27) and Kyle Gould Taylor University (44-16) — took their teams to the NAIA Opening Round before they were eliminated from postseason play.

Gary Vaught retired after 24 seasons as head coach at the University of Indianapolis.

Indiana University Kokomo (coached by Matt Howard) and Ivy Tech Community College (coached by Lance Hershberger) had their first seasons.

Here is a 2018 wrap-up for all 38 college baseball programs in Indiana:

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2018

NCAA Division I

Ball State Cardinals (32-26, 17-10 Mid-American Conference): Head coach Rich Maloney (13th overall season).

BSU went 1-2 in the MAC tournament at Avon, Ohio.

Drey Jameson was named MAC Pitcher of the Year and an all-MAC first-teamer as well as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Pitcher John Baker, shortstop Noah Powell and outfielder Jeff Riedel made the all-MAC second team.

Right-hander Evan Marquardt (Reds) was selected in 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Butler Bulldogs (34-20, 9-8 Big East Conference): Head coach Dave Schrage (second season).

The Dogs went 1-2 at the Big East tournament in Mason, Ohio.

Pitcher Ryan Pepiot, shortstop Michael Hartnagel and outfielder Gehrig Parker were chosen to the all-Big East first team with outfielder Tyler Houston and infielder/pitcher Garrett Christman on the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Evansville Purple Aces (12-39, 3-18 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Wes Carroll (eighth season).

UE went 0-2 at the MVC tournament in Dallas.

Outfielder Troy Beilsmith was chosen for the all-MVC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Fort Wayne Mastodons (11-37, 7-23 Summit League): Head coach Bobby Pierce (10th season).

Utility player Shannon Baker and first baseman Travis Upp were named to the all-Summit second team.

This summer, the school changes its name to Purdue Fort Wayne and the colors go from blue and white to black and gold.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Hoosiers (40-19, 14-9 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Chris Lemonis (fourth season).

IU went 1-2 at the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Outfielder Matt Gorski, starting pitcher Jonathan Stiever and utility player Matt Lloyd were named to the all-Big Ten first team. Starting pitcher Pauly Milto and designated hitter Scotty Bradley made the second team, outfielder Logan Sowers the third team and second baseman Drew Ashley the all-freshman team.

Stiever (White Sox), Sowers (White Sox), Tim Herrin (Indians) and Luke Miller (Phillies) were selected MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana State Sycamores (31-24, 11-10 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Mitch Hannahs (fifth season).

ISU went 2-2 in the MVC tournament.

Third baseman Jake Means was named to the all-MVC first team, first baseman Dane Giesler, starting pitcher Tyler Ward the second team and Means and second baseman Jarrod Watkins the all-defensive team.

Right-hander Ethan Larrison (Diamondbacks) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-30, 12-18 Atlantic Coast Conference): Head coach Mik Aoki (eighth season).

ND went 0-2 at the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C.

Second baseman Nick Podkul and third baseman Matt Vierling was named to the all-ACC second team and outfielder Eric Gilgenbach the third team.

Podkul (Blue Jays), Vierling (Phillies) and shortstop Cole Daily (Nationals) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Boilermakers (38-21, 17-6 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Mark Wasikowski (second season).

The Boilers enjoyed 13-game win streak toward the end of the regular season and went 3-1 at the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Minnesota in the championship game.

Catcher Nick Dalesandro, first baseman Jacson McGowan, starting pitcher Tanner Andrews and relief pitcher Ross Learnard landed on the all-Big Ten third team and outfielder Ben Nisle and starting pitcher Trent Johnson on the all-freshman team.

Dalesandro (Diamondbacks), McGowan (Rays) and Andrews (Marlins) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Valparaiso Crusaders (19-34, 6-15 Horizon League): Head coach Brian Schmack (fifth season).

Valpo lost in an elimination game at the MVC tournament.

Outfielder Blake Billinger was chosen for the all-MVC first team while outfielder Giovanni Garbella and starting pitcher Jon Tieman earned honorable mention and Jayden Eggimann a spot on the all-defensive team.

Catcher Scott Kapers (Rangers) was selected in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

NCAA Division II

Indianapolis Greyhounds (31-23, 10-14 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Gary Vaught (24th season).

The Hounds went 3-2 at the GLVC tournament in Ozark, Mo., losing to Quincy in the championship game.

Designated hitter Dylan Jones, first baseman Storm Joop, outfielder Kyle Orloff and third baseman Hunter Waning were picked for the all-GLVC second team.

UIndy achieved their 16th 30-win season for Vaught, who retired after 24 seasons of leading the program. Assistant Al Ready was named as his replacement.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Oakland City Oaks (13-28): Head coach T-Ray Fletcher (24th season).

OCU played 25 games played in Indiana, including 17 at home.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (36-23, 15-9 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Tracy Archuleta (12th season).

After winning the Midwest Regional at Springfield, Ill., USI dropped D-II Championship games to Florida Southern and Southern New Hampshire.

Outfielder Drake McNamara was named Player of the Year and Bryce Krizan Freshman of the Year by the GLVC.

Catcher Logan Brown and utility player Nick Gobert also made the first team while second baseman Jacob Fleming and outfielder Buddy Johnson were named to the second team.

McNamara was also honored as Region Player of the Year by several sources and as All-American by ABCA, D2CCA and NWBCA.

Brown (Braves) was taken in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NCAA Division III

Anderson Ravens (25-20, 11-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Matt Bair (first season).

AU finished 3-2 in the HCAC tournament, bowing to Franklin in the championship game.

John Becker was honored as HCAC Pitcher of the Year. Besides Becker, shortstop Nick Butcher first team and second baseman Nick Jones made the all-HCAC first team, third baseman Jonathan Willoughby second team and outfielder/infielder Tommy Parker honorable mention. Becker and Butcher were chosen all-region by different groups.

See IndianaRBI Story HERE.

DePauw Tigers (11-26, 9-9 North Coast Athletic Conference): Head coach Blake Allen (second season).

Outfielder Charlie Patrick was chosen as NCAC Newcomer of the Year and all-NCAC second team. Pitcher Grant Rademacher also was chosen for the second team while honorable mention went to third baseman Noah Salasky and outfielder Collin Einertson.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Earlham Quakers (23-14, 7-10 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Steve Sakosits (eighth season).

Catcher/utility player Danny Dopp, outfielder/utility player Addison Robertson and pitcher Walter Talcott made the all-HCC second team and infielder Dre Davis received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Franklin Grizzlies (39-5, 17-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Lance Marshall (21st season).

The Griz beat Anderson in the HCAC tournament championship game then went 1-2 in the D-III Central Regional in Sauget, Ill.

Outfielder Ryan Bixler was named MVP and Marshall Coach of the Year by the HCAC. Other all-conference players were pitcher Christian Sullivan, catcher Alex Mis, first baseman Drew Naumovich, shortstop Sam Claycamp, third baseman Frank Podkul, outfielders Ryan Erlandson and Jarrod Smith, designated hitter Nick Wright on the first team, second baseman Brandt Pawley on the second team and pitcher Mitchell Caster receiving honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Hanover Panthers (8-25, 5-12 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Shayne Stock (sixth season).

Pitcher Garrett Zorb was named to the all-HCC first team, infielder Josh Meszaros to the second team and infielder Jack Shine honorable mention.

Manchester Spartans (20-22, 9-8 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Rick Espeset (20th season).

Outfielder Tyler LaFollette was picked for the all-HCC first team, pitcher Taylor Kopplin and outfielder Eric Knepper the second team and outfield/infielder Braxton Riley received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers (20-23, 10-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Jeff Jenkins (29th season).

Rose came in third place in the HCAC tournament.

Luke Buehler, an all-region second-team selection, was named all-HCAC first team, outfielder David Burnside second team and catcher/DH Conner Helbling honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Trine Thunder (19-21, 13-15 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association): Head coach Greg Perschke (17th season).

Catcher Kevin O’Malley was chosen for the all-MIAA first team and infielder Jacob Heller the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Wabash Little Giants (32-17, 10-8 North Shore Athletic Conference): Head coach Jake Martin (second season).

After winning the NCAC tournament, Wabash lost the Mideast Regional championship game to Wooster.

Pitcher Bryan Roberts made the all-NCAC first team, catcher Bryce Aldridge, second baseman Sean Roginski the second team and first baseman Jackson Blevins, shortstop Eric Chavez, outfielder Jared Wolfe and pitcher Zach Moffett the honorable mention list.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NAIA

Bethel Pilots (17-28, 8-19 Crossroads League): Head coach Seth Zartman (15th season).

The Dick Patterson Field at Jerry Jenkins Stadium inhabitants placed infielder/outfielder Luke Adams and outfielders Collin Affolder and Jesse Zepeda on the all-Crossroads honorable mention team and Zepeda and pitcher Josh King on the Gold Glove squad.

Calumet College of Saint Joseph Crimson Wave (13-41, 7-23 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Scott Nowakowski.

Goshen Maple Leafs (22-29, 12-15 Crossroads League): Head coach Alex Childers (sixth season).

A number of career and season record fell for the Leafs — Ryan Hartig (most games in a GC career with 210), Brad Stoltzfus (most career runs with 113 and tied for most career runs with 133), Ben Longacre (single-season highs of 49 runs and 22 doubles) and Colby Malson (10 saves).

Outfielders Hartig and Longacre and infielder/pitcher Malson were accorded honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team while infielder Stoltzfus was chosen for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Grace Lancers (9-33, 9-18 Crossroads League): Head coach Cam Screeton (second season).

After starting the season 0-17, Grace won four of its last six.

Pitcher David Anderson, infielder Austin Baker and third baseman Houston Haney received honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team.

Huntington Foresters (23-24, 16-10 Crossroads League): Head coach Mike Frame (34th season).

Outfielder Donovan Clark, second baseman Jamar Weaver and pitcher Connor West earned all-conference honorable mention Weaver was also selected for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana Tech Warriors (44-21, 24-4 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference): Head coach Kip McWilliams (11th season).

Tech lost the WHAC championship series to Madonna then went 2-2 in the Opening Round in Montgomery, Ala., losing to top-ranked Faulkner in the championship game.

First baseman Glen McClain was named Player of the Year and McWilliams Coach of the Year by the WHAC. Besides McClain, catcher Tighe Koehring made the first team while third baseman Matt Bandor and pitcher Jason Sterrett were selected for the second team.

McClain and Koehring were also chosen as NAIA second-team All-Americans.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (37-20, 20-6 Crossroads League): Head coach Rich Benjamin (third season).

IWU, the CL regular-season champions, went 0-2 in the Opening Round at Lawrenceville, Ga.

Outfielder Steven Busby, utility player Caleb Eder, pitcher Kyle Hall, catcher Brady West middle fielder Jordan Wharton and pitcher Jon Young made the all-conference first team, Wharton the Gold Glove team and pitchers Zee Breytenbach, David Corbin and Tim Olvaney honorable mention.

Benjamin was named CL Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars (31-21-1, 16-11 River States Conference): Head coach Matt Howard (first season).

In the first year of the program, IUK’s season concluded with a loss in the RSC tournament semifinals.

Renton Poole was named RSC Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Noah Etchison, outfielder Jared Heard and designated hitter Dalton Clarke made the second team and third baseman Caleb Matthews the Gold Glove team.

Honorable-mention NAIA All-American Poole (Rangers) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana University South Bend Titans (13-39, 8-22 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Doug Buysse (first season).

First baseman Tanner Wesp made the all-CCAC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Southeast Grenadiers (41-14, 23-4 River States Conference): Head coach Ben Reel (10th season).

IUS lost to Point Park in the RSC tournament championship game went 1-2 in the NAIA Opening Round in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Starting pitchers Brandon Nylin and Ryne Underwood, shortstop Richard Rodriguez, outfielder Nicholas Lugo and utility player Josh Beams were picked for the all-RSC first team, pitcher Andrew Yates the second team and Lugo, pitcher John Cecil and second baseman Reyni Olivero the Gold Glove team. Reel was named RSC Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Marian Knights (24-27, 14-12 Crossroads League): Head coach Todd Bacon (fifth season).

MU beat Huntington for the Crossroads League tournament title then went 0-2 in the NAIA Opening Round at Williamsburg, Ky.

Cody Earl was named CL Player of the Year and honorable-mention NAIA All-American. Infielder Maverick Bacon was also an all-Crossroads first-teamer while infielder Leo Lopez, pitcher/outfielder Zack St. Pierre and pitcher/infielder Reese Willis garnered honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Northwest Pride (18-25, 8-19 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Dave Griffin (second season).

Kyle Freel was selected GLIAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year while catcher Hunter Thorn and pitcher Chad Patrick earned all-conference honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Saint Francis Cougars (16-38, 9-17 Crossroads League): Head coach Greg Roberts (14th season).

Pitcher Noah Freimuth and infielders Tyler Prince and Keaton Sullivan earned all-Crossroads honorable mention.

Taylor Trojans (44-16, 20-7 Crossroads League): Head coach Kyle Gould (14th season).

An Opening Round host, Taylor went 1-2 in the event at Winterholter Field.

Pitcher Matt Patton was named CL Pitcher of the Year and an second-team NAIA All-American.

Besides Patton, all-Crossroads first-teamer were pitcher/first baseman Andrew Kennedy, infielder Josh Lane, infielder Nathan Targgart, pitcher Mitch Ubelhor, catcher/outfielder Tanner Watson and outfielder Wyatt Whitman with Watson, Whitman and pitcher/infielder Brett Lawson on the Gold Glove team and utility player Jared Adkins, pitcher Clay Riggins and outfielder Sam Wiese getting honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Junior College

Ancilla Chargers (3-28, 2-22 Michigan Community College Athletic Association): Head coach Joe Yonto.

Ivy Tech Northeast Titans (25-18): Head coach Lance Hershberger (first season).

In the first year of the program, Ivy Tech finished the season with just 14 on the roster.

Catcher Tyler Rickert made the NJCAA Region 12 Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE, HERE & HERE.

Vincennes Trailblazers (19-27): Head coach Chris Barney (10th season).

After a 1-8 start, VU won three of its last five.

BASEBALLONDIRT

IU, Purdue bow out in D-I regionals; Indiana’s 36 other college baseball teams wrap up 2018 season

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The state’s two Big Ten schools — Indiana University and Purdue University — both saw the 2018 college baseball season come to a close at the NCAA Regional level.

Minnesota and Ohio State were the other two conference schools to get an NCAA bid.

The Chris Lemonis-coached Hoosiers (40-19) went 2-2 at the Austin (Texas) Regional.

Coach Mark Wasikowski’s Boilermakers (38-21) went 1-2 at the Chapel Hill Regional.

Once again, Tracy Archuleta took the University of Southern Indiana (36-23) in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament. A national champion in 2010 and 2014, the Screaming Eagles went 0-2 in Cary, N.C., this time.

At the NCAA D-III level, Lance Marshall’s Franklin College team (39-5) and Jake Martin’s Wabash College (32-17) squad both advanced to regional tournaments before bowing out.

Five coaches — Kip McWilliams of Indiana Tech (44-21), Rich Benjamin of Indiana Wesleyan University (37-20), Ben Reel of Indiana University Southeast (41-14), Todd Bacon of Marian University (24-27) and Kyle Gould Taylor University (44-16) — took their teams to the NAIA Opening Round before they were eliminated from postseason play.

Gary Vaught retired after 24 seasons as head coach at the University of Indianapolis.

Indiana University Kokomo (coached by Matt Howard) and Ivy Tech Community College (coached by Lance Hershberger) had their first seasons.

Here is a 2018 wrap-up for all 38 college baseball programs in Indiana:

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL

2018

NCAA Division I

Ball State Cardinals (32-26, 17-10 Mid-American Conference): Head coach Rich Maloney (13th overall season).

BSU went 1-2 in the MAC tournament at Avon, Ohio.

Drey Jameson was named MAC Pitcher of the Year and an all-MAC first-teamer as well as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Pitcher John Baker, shortstop Noah Powell and outfielder Jeff Riedel made the all-MAC second team.

Right-hander Evan Marquardt (Reds) was selected in 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Butler Bulldogs (34-20, 9-8 Big East Conference): Head coach Dave Schrage (second season).

The Dogs went 1-2 at the Big East tournament in Mason, Ohio.

Pitcher Ryan Pepiot, shortstop Michael Hartnagel and outfielder Gehrig Parker were chosen to the all-Big East first team with outfielder Tyler Houston and infielder/pitcher Garrett Christman on the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Evansville Purple Aces (12-39, 3-18 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Wes Carroll (eighth season).

UE went 0-2 at the MVC tournament in Dallas.

Outfielder Troy Beilsmith was chosen for the all-MVC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Fort Wayne Mastodons (11-37, 7-23 Summit League): Head coach Bobby Pierce (10th season).

Utility player Shannon Baker and first baseman Travis Upp were named to the all-Summit second team.

This summer, the school changes its name to Purdue Fort Wayne and the colors go from blue and white to black and gold.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Hoosiers (40-19, 14-9 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Chris Lemonis (fourth season).

IU went 1-2 at the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Outfielder Matt Gorski, starting pitcher Jonathan Stiever and utility player Matt Lloyd were named to the all-Big Ten first team. Starting pitcher Pauly Milto and designated hitter Scotty Bradley made the second team, outfielder Logan Sowers the third team and second baseman Drew Ashley the all-freshman team.

Stiever (White Sox), Sowers (White Sox), Tim Herrin (Indians) and Luke Miller (Phillies) were selected MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana State Sycamores (31-24, 11-10 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Mitch Hannahs (fifth season).

ISU went 2-2 in the MVC tournament.

Third baseman Jake Means was named to the all-MVC first team, first baseman Dane Giesler, starting pitcher Tyler Ward the second team and Means and second baseman Jarrod Watkins the all-defensive team.

Right-hander Ethan Larrison (Diamondbacks) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-30, 12-18 Atlantic Coast Conference): Head coach Mik Aoki (eighth season).

ND went 0-2 at the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C.

Second baseman Nick Podkul and third baseman Matt Vierling was named to the all-ACC second team and outfielder Eric Gilgenbach the third team.

Podkul (Blue Jays), Vierling (Phillies) and shortstop Cole Daily (Nationals) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Boilermakers (38-21, 17-6 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Mark Wasikowski (second season).

The Boilers enjoyed 13-game win streak toward the end of the regular season and went 3-1 at the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Minnesota in the championship game.

Catcher Nick Dalesandro, first baseman Jacson McGowan, starting pitcher Tanner Andrews and relief pitcher Ross Learnard landed on the all-Big Ten third team and outfielder Ben Nisle and starting pitcher Trent Johnson on the all-freshman team.

Dalesandro (Diamondbacks), McGowan (Rays) and Andrews (Marlins) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Valparaiso Crusaders (19-34, 6-15 Horizon League): Head coach Brian Schmack (fifth season).

Valpo lost in an elimination game at the MVC tournament.

Outfielder Blake Billinger was chosen for the all-MVC first team while outfielder Giovanni Garbella and starting pitcher Jon Tieman earned honorable mention and Jayden Eggimann a spot on the all-defensive team.

Catcher Scott Kapers (Rangers) was selected in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

NCAA Division II

Indianapolis Greyhounds (31-23, 10-14 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Gary Vaught (24th season).

The Hounds went 3-2 at the GLVC tournament in Ozark, Mo., losing to Quincy in the championship game.

Designated hitter Dylan Jones, first baseman Storm Joop, outfielder Kyle Orloff and third baseman Hunter Waning were picked for the all-GLVC second team.

UIndy achieved their 16th 30-win season for Vaught, who retired after 24 seasons of leading the program. Assistant Al Ready was named as his replacement.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Oakland City Oaks (13-28): Head coach T-Ray Fletcher (24th season).

OCU played 25 games played in Indiana, including 17 at home.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (36-23, 15-9 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Tracy Archuleta (12th season).

After winning the Midwest Regional at Springfield, Ill., USI dropped D-II Championship games to Florida Southern and Southern New Hampshire.

Outfielder Drake McNamara was named Player of the Year and Bryce Krizan Freshman of the Year by the GLVC.

Catcher Logan Brown and utility player Nick Gobert also made the first team while second baseman Jacob Fleming and outfielder Buddy Johnson were named to the second team.

McNamara was also honored as Region Player of the Year by several sources and as All-American by ABCA, D2CCA and NWBCA.

Brown (Braves) was taken in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NCAA Division III

Anderson Ravens (25-20, 11-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Matt Bair (first season).

AU finished 3-2 in the HCAC tournament, bowing to Franklin in the championship game.

John Becker was honored as HCAC Pitcher of the Year. Besides Becker, shortstop Nick Butcher first team and second baseman Nick Jones made the all-HCAC first team, third baseman Jonathan Willoughby second team and outfielder/infielder Tommy Parker honorable mention. Becker and Butcher were chosen all-region by different groups.

See IndianaRBI Story HERE.

DePauw Tigers (11-26, 9-9 North Coast Athletic Conference): Head coach Blake Allen (second season).

Outfielder Charlie Patrick was chosen as NCAC Newcomer of the Year and all-NCAC second team. Pitcher Grant Rademacher also was chosen for the second team while honorable mention went to third baseman Noah Salasky and outfielder Collin Einertson.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Earlham Quakers (23-14, 7-10 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Steve Sakosits (eighth season).

Catcher/utility player Danny Dopp, outfielder/utility player Addison Robertson and pitcher Walter Talcott made the all-HCC second team and infielder Dre Davis received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Franklin Grizzlies (39-5, 17-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Lance Marshall (21st season).

The Griz beat Anderson in the HCAC tournament championship game then went 1-2 in the D-III Central Regional in Sauget, Ill.

Outfielder Ryan Bixler was named MVP and Marshall Coach of the Year by the HCAC. Other all-conference players were pitcher Christian Sullivan, catcher Alex Mis, first baseman Drew Naumovich, shortstop Sam Claycamp, third baseman Frank Podkul, outfielders Ryan Erlandson and Jarrod Smith, designated hitter Nick Wright on the first team, second baseman Brandt Pawley on the second team and pitcher Mitchell Caster receiving honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Hanover Panthers (8-25, 5-12 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Shayne Stock (sixth season).

Pitcher Garrett Zorb was named to the all-HCC first team, infielder Josh Meszaros to the second team and infielder Jack Shine honorable mention.

Manchester Spartans (20-22, 9-8 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Rick Espeset (20th season).

Outfielder Tyler LaFollette was picked for the all-HCC first team, pitcher Taylor Kopplin and outfielder Eric Knepper the second team and outfield/infielder Braxton Riley received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers (20-23, 10-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Jeff Jenkins (29th season).

Rose came in third place in the HCAC tournament.

Luke Buehler, an all-region second-team selection, was named all-HCAC first team, outfielder David Burnside second team and catcher/DH Conner Helbling honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Trine Thunder (19-21, 13-15 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association): Head coach Greg Perschke (17th season).

Catcher Kevin O’Malley was chosen for the all-MIAA first team and infielder Jacob Heller the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Wabash Little Giants (32-17, 10-8 North Shore Athletic Conference): Head coach Jake Martin (second season).

After winning the NCAC tournament, Wabash lost the Mideast Regional championship game to Wooster.

Pitcher Bryan Roberts made the all-NCAC first team, catcher Bryce Aldridge, second baseman Sean Roginski the second team and first baseman Jackson Blevins, shortstop Eric Chavez, outfielder Jared Wolfe and pitcher Zach Moffett the honorable mention list.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NAIA

Bethel Pilots (17-28, 8-19 Crossroads League): Head coach Seth Zartman (15th season).

The Dick Patterson Field at Jerry Jenkins Stadium inhabitants placed infielder/outfielder Luke Adams and outfielders Collin Affolder and Jesse Zepeda on the all-Crossroads honorable mention team and Zepeda and pitcher Josh King on the Gold Glove squad.

Calumet College of Saint Joseph Crimson Wave (13-41, 7-23 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Scott Nowakowski.

Goshen Maple Leafs (22-29, 12-15 Crossroads League): Head coach Alex Childers (sixth season).

A number of career and season record fell for the Leafs — Ryan Hartig (most games in a GC career with 210), Brad Stoltzfus (most career runs with 113 and tied for most career runs with 133), Ben Longacre (single-season highs of 49 runs and 22 doubles) and Colby Malson (10 saves).

Outfielders Hartig and Longacre and infielder/pitcher Malson were accorded honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team while infielder Stoltzfus was chosen for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Grace Lancers (9-33, 9-18 Crossroads League): Head coach Cam Screeton (second season).

After starting the season 0-17, Grace won four of its last six.

Pitcher David Anderson, infielder Austin Baker and third baseman Houston Haney received honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team.

Huntington Foresters (23-24, 16-10 Crossroads League): Head coach Mike Frame (34th season).

Outfielder Donovan Clark, second baseman Jamar Weaver and pitcher Connor West earned all-conference honorable mention Weaver was also selected for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana Tech Warriors (44-21, 24-4 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference): Head coach Kip McWilliams (11th season).

Tech lost the WHAC championship series to Madonna then went 2-2 in the Opening Round in Montgomery, Ala., losing to top-ranked Faulkner in the championship game.

First baseman Glen McClain was named Player of the Year and McWilliams Coach of the Year by the WHAC. Besides McClain, catcher Tighe Koehring made the first team while third baseman Matt Bandor and pitcher Jason Sterrett were selected for the second team.

McClain and Koehring were also chosen as NAIA second-team All-Americans.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (37-20, 20-6 Crossroads League): Head coach Rich Benjamin (third season).

IWU, the CL regular-season champions, went 0-2 in the Opening Round at Lawrenceville, Ga.

Outfielder Steven Busby, utility player Caleb Eder, pitcher Kyle Hall, catcher Brady West middle fielder Jordan Wharton and pitcher Jon Young made the all-conference first team, Wharton the Gold Glove team and pitchers Zee Breytenbach, David Corbin and Tim Olvaney honorable mention.

Benjamin was named CL Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars (31-21-1, 16-11 River States Conference): Head coach Matt Howard (first season).

In the first year of the program, IUK’s season concluded with a loss in the RSC tournament semifinals.

Renton Poole was named RSC Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Noah Etchison, outfielder Jared Heard and designated hitter Dalton Clarke made the second team and third baseman Caleb Matthews the Gold Glove team.

Honorable-mention NAIA All-American Poole (Rangers) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana University South Bend Titans (13-39, 8-22 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Doug Buysse (first season).

First baseman Tanner Wesp made the all-CCAC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Southeast Grenadiers (41-14, 23-4 River States Conference): Head coach Ben Reel (10th season).

IUS lost to Point Park in the RSC tournament championship game went 1-2 in the NAIA Opening Round in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Starting pitchers Brandon Nylin and Ryne Underwood, shortstop Richard Rodriguez, outfielder Nicholas Lugo and utility player Josh Beams were picked for the all-RSC first team, pitcher Andrew Yates the second team and Lugo, pitcher John Cecil and second baseman Reyni Olivero the Gold Glove team. Reel was named RSC Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Marian Knights (24-27, 14-12 Crossroads League): Head coach Todd Bacon (fifth season).

MU beat Huntington for the Crossroads League tournament title then went 0-2 in the NAIA Opening Round at Williamsburg, Ky.

Cody Earl was named CL Player of the Year and honorable-mention NAIA All-American. Infielder Maverick Bacon was also an all-Crossroads first-teamer while infielder Leo Lopez, pitcher/outfielder Zack St. Pierre and pitcher/infielder Reese Willis garnered honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Northwest Pride (18-25, 8-19 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Dave Griffin (second season).

Kyle Freel was selected GLIAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year while catcher Hunter Thorn and pitcher Chad Patrick earned all-conference honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Saint Francis Cougars (16-38, 9-17 Crossroads League): Head coach Greg Roberts (14th season).

Pitcher Noah Freimuth and infielders Tyler Prince and Keaton Sullivan earned all-Crossroads honorable mention.

Taylor Trojans (44-16, 20-7 Crossroads League): Head coach Kyle Gould (14th season).

An Opening Round host, Taylor went 1-2 in the event at Winterholter Field.

Pitcher Matt Patton was named CL Pitcher of the Year and an second-team NAIA All-American.

Besides Patton, all-Crossroads first-teamer were pitcher/first baseman Andrew Kennedy, infielder Josh Lane, infielder Nathan Targgart, pitcher Mitch Ubelhor, catcher/outfielder Tanner Watson and outfielder Wyatt Whitman with Watson, Whitman and pitcher/infielder Brett Lawson on the Gold Glove team and utility player Jared Adkins, pitcher Clay Riggins and outfielder Sam Wiese getting honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Junior College

Ancilla Chargers (3-28, 2-22 Michigan Community College Athletic Association): Head coach Joe Yonto.

Ivy Tech Northeast Titans (25-18): Head coach Lance Hershberger (first season).

In the first year of the program, Ivy Tech finished the season with just 14 on the roster.

Catcher Tyler Rickert made the NJCAA Region 12 Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE, HERE & HERE.

Vincennes Trailblazers (19-27): Head coach Chris Barney (10th season).

After a 1-8 start, VU won three of its last five.

BASEBALLONDIRT

Former Homestead, IPFW pitcher Weaver briefly with Gary, goes back to Florence

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Chuck Weaver went undrafted by Major League Baseball at the close of his college career.

But the 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher did not let that keep him from becoming a professional.

Weaver, who toed the rubber for Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Taylor University in Upland, Ind., Vincennes University and Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, earned his first paycheck for pitching with the Florence (Ky.) Freedom in the independent Frontier League in 2013. He was an FL All-Star in 2014.

Appearing in 49 games (45 as a starter) with 17 victories, he was with Florence until August of 2015.

That’s when he signed with the Miami Marlins organization and hurled 22 innings with 19 strikeouts and three walks with short-season Batavia.

In 2016, Weaver went 9-5 with Low Class-A Greensboro. He fanned 72 and walked just 10 in 83 innings. His WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) was 1.04.

But he also hurt his elbow. Weaver underwent Tommy John reconstructive surgery Oct. 25, 2016 and missed the entire 2017 season.

Weaver worked hard on getting back. He went to 2018 spring training with the Marlins only to be released a few weeks later.

He had played at Homestead for coach Steve Sotir with one season each at Taylor for Kyle Gould and at Vincennes for Chris Barney and two at IPFW for Bobby Pierce.

After his released, the Fort Wayne head coach welcomed Weaver to practice when he asked to throw to Mastodons catchers.

“I still stay in touch with Bobby all the time,” says Weaver of Pierce. “He’s a great guy.”

Florence still held Weaver’s contract and could have returned to the Freedom, but wanted to try his luck in the independent American Association.

“I’m a big family guy,” says Weaver, 27. “I wanted my mom to come watch and support. I feel like this is the best fit of all the teams in the American Association.”

Chuck’s mother and stepfather — Susan Abbott and Rod Abbott — as well as stepbrothers — Ryan Abbott and Ray Abbott — are all in the Fort Wayne area. They’re about 150 miles from Gary.

So Florence manager Dennis Pelfrey, who coached four seasons for Gary SouthShore RailCats manager Greg Tagert, recommended Weaver to the AA club based in northwest Indiana.

Weaver made his first start for Gary — a no-decision — Sunday, May 20 at U.S. Steel Yard.

He goes to the mound with a fastball, change-up and slider.

The majority of his fastballs are of the two-seam variety. However, he does have a four-seamer.

When he was making his way back from surgery with the Marlins, Weaver was reunited with former Florence pitching coach Chad Rhoades.

Rhoades, who pitched for Gary in 2012, coached pitchers at short-season Batavia in 2016 and later served as Marlins rehab pitching coordinator. In the latter role, he helped Weaver add a four-seam heater to his repertoire.

On May 31, the RailCats announced they had traded Weaver to Florence.

Like the majority of players in independent baseball, Weaver is looking to showcase himself for MLB-affiliated teams.

He explained the dynamic.

“You see more of a drive for the game and more desire to play (in indy ball),” says Weaver. “In affiliated, I feel a lot of the guys took it serious but not as serious as the guys here.

“It was more individualized in affiliated and it’s more (team-oriented) here. People are helping each other.”

While developing in an affiliated system, players may spend a lot of time working on one particular element of their game and teams are not focused as much on winning as getting the player up the chain toward the big league team.

“Guys would go out there and throw only fastballs because they had to work on fastball command,” says Weaver of affiliated ball. “Here, you’re trying to get that shot. You want to showcase all your stuff.

What does Weaver see as his strengths?

“I’m a real hard worker,” says Weaver. “I wasn’t drafted, but I felt like a pushed my way (to affiliated baseball). I have to continue to push myself.

“Even if I’m tired after a long bus ride, I have to take it serious and get my work in. I can’t be lazy about it.

“It’s my job.”

CHUCKWEAVERRAILCATS

Chuck Weaver, a Homestead High School graduate who also pitched for Taylor University, Vincennes University, Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne and in the Miami Marlins organization among others, is now with the Gary SouthShore RailCats. (Gary SouthShore RailCats Photo)

 

Risedorph has NorthWood Panthers playing baseball with accountability, confidence, toughness

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

If it seems like NorthWood High School baseball players are jacked up all the time, there’s a reason for that.

First-year Panthers head coach A.J. Risedorph asked his players at the Elkhart County school and that’s the way they want to attack the 2018 season.

Several players, including seniors Payton Bear and Brant Mast (a Spring Arbor University signee) and juniors Matt Dutkowski and Alec Holcomb, return from a 2017 squad went 26-2 overall and 14-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference and won IHSAA Class 3A NorthWood Sectional and Bellmont Regional titles with Jay Sheets at the helm.

“We want to be high energy the entire game,” says Risedorph, a former NorthWood assistant baseball coach who returns as the leader of the program after a season away from the diamond. “We celebrate everything — regardless of outcome.”

A batter might see six pitches then fly out to center field.

But it’s a “quality at-bat.”

“We put a positive spin on something they would normally look at as failure,” says Risedorph. “Positive reinforcement is huge.”

In the Panthers’ first two games of the campaign (a 13-0 win against Westview and 9-8 triumph against Mishawaka), Risedorph has noticed Dutkowski coming up to his teammates and lending encouragement and that’s the kind of culture the NorthWood social studies teacher and student council sponsor is trying to build.

Risedorph wants his club to react well to adversity, something the Panthers did when down 8-7 in the seventh inning against Mishawaka.

“We don’t win that game is our guys panic,” says Risedorph. “I’m real happy with the group that we have. They are level-headed. They have ice in their veins.”

A graduate of East Noble High School (2006) and Indiana University Purdue University-Fort Wayne (2011), former right-handed pitcher, shortstop and third baseman Risedorph has drawn some of his coaching philosophies and methods from his high school and college coaches and one current mentor.

“I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of leaders,” says Risedorph.

Kevin Irons was his head baseball coach at East Noble as the Knights competed in the old Northeast Hoosier Conference (along with Bellmont, Columbia City, DeKalb, Huntington North, Leo, New Haven and Norwell).

Billy Gernon and then Bobby Pierce led the way at IPFW. Mastodons pitching coach Grant Birely also played a big role.

Irons brought Risedorph up to the varsity midway through his freshmen season and taught him plenty about the game.

Risedorph recalls the intensity of a Gernon-led practice.

“He really set a standard for that,” says Risedorph. “He made sure guys were going to buy into the program.”

Pierce took over the Mastodons after Gernon left to become head coach at Western Michigan University. Risedorph constantly picked the brains of Pierce and Birely while playing and also while serving as a first base coach during rehabilitation. Injury took away Risedorph’s 2007 and 2010 seasons.

“(Pierce) runs a very pro-style program,” says Risedorph. “He wants you to be you. He wanted players to represent themselves the right way. He didn’t want you to be something you weren’t and he was very big on the mental side.

“(Pierce and Birely) were able to get the best out of us.”

There were no radical changes in batting stances or arm slots. Players were allowed to work within their own approach.

Risedorph lets his players be themselves within a framework.

“They need structure,” says Risedorph. “They do better when they have it.”

Since 2012-13, Risedorph has been a varsity assistant NorthWood head boys basketball coach Aaron Wolfe and the Panthers have gone 123-25 with four sectional crowns during that span.

“He showed me that you can have meaningful professional relationships with student-athletes,” says Risedorph of Wolfe.

Attending his first Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association State Clinic in January, Risedorph picked up some pointers about practice structure from Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki and outfield play from Indiana University Kokomo head coach Matt Howard.

Risedorph, who counts Matt Cox and Kevin Roberts as varsity assistants and Greg Estepp and Aaron Arnold as junior varsity coaches guiding a group of 32 players, has his practices broken down into individualized instruction, group skills and team skills.

While “Embrace the Pace” means one thing to the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce, it’s another kind of progression for the Panthers.

“There’s no down time,” says Risedorph. “There has to be a pace to our practice.

“We try to put ourselves in stressful situations. It’s so hard to simulate that stuff in practice. It comes from our pace.

“Yet we want to be calm when we do it. You cannot perform when you’re not loose.”

Risedorph says Birely used to say, “Know your numbers” — as in the stress scale.

“Sometimes you need to step back, breathe and slow your heart rate,” says Risedorph. “(The mentality is) Next Pitch. You don’t let the momentum get the best of you — good or bad.”

NorthWood players are also expected to embrace the concepts of being accountable, confident and tough.

Accountability means doing the right thing, at the right time, all the time.

Confidence entails the beliefs and behaviors that result from a passion to make oneself better.

Toughness is part of being ready, relentless and responsive.

The 2017 sectional title marked the 11th in NorthWood history and sixth since 2011. The regional championship was the program’s first since 1983.

In 2018, the Panthers are in a 3A sectional group with Angola, Fairfield, Lakeland, Tippecanoe Valley, Wawasee and West Noble.

Besides NorthWood, the NLC features Concord, Elkhart Memorial, Goshen, Northridge, Plymouth, Warsaw and Wawasee.

Many NorthWood players are part of travel baseball organizations, including the Michiana Scrappers and Indiana Chargers.

Estepp coaches the NorthWood 14U team in the summer.

“We are not short of quality coaches in this area,” says Risedorph. “It’s nice they care about the kids’ future.

“We’re very fortunate so many of these kids are putting in work.”

Risedorph says he is looking to get more involved with Nappanee Youth Baseball League and Wakarusa Baseball/Softball League.

Before landing at NorthWood, a part of Wa-Nee Community Schools and where former Bremen baseball coach Norm Sellers is athletic director, Risedorph taught for one year at East Noble Middle School and was a baseball assistant to Irons. Risedorph did his student teaching at Fort Wayne Snider High School.

A.J. and Jenna Risedorph have two daughters — Quinlynn (4) and Reagan (1). A.J. is the son of Randy and Iolet Risedorph and has three brothers — Ryan, Eric and Brayden.

NorthWood graduate Blake Cleveland is now playing baseball at Central Michigan University.

NORTHWOODPANTHERS

AJRISEDORPH

A.J. Risedorph is in his first season as NorthWood High School head baseball coach. The East Noble High School and Indiana University Purdue University-Fort Wayne graduate is back with the program after a year away. (Steve Krah Photo)

 

Pierce puts long-term plan in place for D-I Fort Wayne Mastodons

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Going from a squad full of veterans and experiencing NCAA Division I baseball success in 2016, the Mastodons of Fort Wayne had much less college experience and suffered growing pains in 2017.

With a new focus, Fort Wayne is looking to get things turned around in 2018 under the guidance of 10th-year head coach Bobby Pierce.

“We wore it last year,” says Pierce, who saw the Mastodons go 9-43 after losing 14 impact players — senior shortstop Greg Kaiser, senior outfielder Brandon Soat and and drafted sophomore pitcher Evan Miller among them — from a 33-26 campaign in ’16 that included a second straight trip to the Summit League tournament finals. “(Junior college) guys made the (2016) team as good as it could be. Freshmen (in 2017) need to learned how to play here and do damage on the Division I level.

“But we like to think over the next three or four years, that was worth it. Strategically, it’s the right move to get where we want to get. We have to think more long-term. Up until this time, we were using a steady mix of high school and junior college guys and it was holding us back a little bit.”

Fort Wayne just wrapped annual fall workouts with the Blue-Black intrasquad series with teams captained by sophomore infielder Travis Upp and junior pitcher Damian Helm on one side and junior infielder Brandon Yoho and senior pitcher Brandon Phelps on the other.

“We got after it somewhere in the middle of September,” says Pierce. “We’ve been grinding it out until this (past) weekend.”

Pierce, assistants Grant Birely and Connor Lawhead and the Dons will continue work in preparation for the 2018 campaign.

As he goes forward, Pierce has the longest tenure as head coach in program history. Previous coach Billy Gernon (now at Western Michigan University) was also in charge for nine seasons.

Pierce, who turned 39 on Oct. 17, came to Fort Wayne with lessons learned as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

A Las Vegas native, Pierce played for Rodger Fairless at Green Valley High School in Henderson, Nev. Fairless coached 12 state championship teams at three Nevada schools. He helped develop Greg Maddux before going to Green Valley and turning that school into a diamond powerhouse. With the Gators, he produced a state champion in the program’s third season. Two Green Valley players — Chad Hermansen and Dave Krynzel — went on to the big leagues.

Pierce, a middle infielder, played at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Central Arizona College and New Mexico State University.

Clint Myers was Pierce’s head coach at Central Arizona. National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association Hall of Famer Myers won more than 1,000 games as a baseball and softball coach with a number of national titles to his credit.

At New Mexico State, Pierce played for National College Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Ward and his son, Rocky Ward.

“I’m very fortunate to come from a very good pedigree of coaches,” says Pierce. “(Fairless) was super disciplinarian and fundamental coach and that was a great start for me. I got indoctrinated in it during my high school career. (Myers) taught me a team management perspective.”

Through structured live play drills in practice, Pierce is able to grow a player’s intelligence in playing the game — something he gained from Myers.

Pierce considers Gary Ward one of the best offensive-minded coaches of all-time and styles his Fort Wayne offense based in the Hall of Famer’s philosophy.

After he was done playing (he developed a labrum injury at New Mexico State), Pierce had planned to become an accountant in Albuquerque.

But fate intervened — hiring was curtailed after Sept. 11, 2001 and he was asked to go back to college for more schooling.

Pierce instead pursued coaching, first serving as an assistant at Central Arizona then the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (where he pulled his first tarp) before becoming head coach at Metropolitan State University of Denver for two seasons before becoming head coach at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne for the 2009 season.

“The early years were hard. I was cutting my teeth,” says Pierce. “But you have to cut your teeth and learn your craft somehow.”

Pierce explains why he has stayed longer in the position than anyone else.

“It speaks to the people I work with and the community,” says Pierce. “The city of Fort Wayne is great. My family (Bobby and Lizette Pierce have two children — Bobby Jr., and Daycee) has grown roots and really love it here.

“I’ve been very fortunate to coach some student-athletes and been around great people. I love this job and I love baseball.”

Fort Wayne pulls many players from northern Indiana and the Indianapolis area, but is able to draw from outside of the state with the school’s policy of out-of-state students paying 150 percent of what in-staters pay.

“Before, we couldn’t afford out-of-state players,” says Pierce. “Their dollar goes further now. Indiana residents are still cheaper on our books. We target Indiana kids. We still like home cooking. We try to turn rocks up here.”

NCAA Division I allows 11.7 scholarships for baseball. Pierce says that of the 35 players on the roster, 27 of them can be on scholarship and those are broken up based on a number of factors, including performance and need.

“There is no such thing as a full-ride,” says Pierce.

Like most programs, most money goes to pitchers and then to the interior of the defense (catcher, shortstop, center field).

“We think we can do a good job of developing hitters,” says Pierce. “We spend the majority of our money in pitching.”

Balance must also be considered.

“Like pro baseball, if you overspend in one area, you are going to be light in another area,” says Pierce. “It becomes a numbers game.”

Pierce is proud to say that the Mastodons have performed well in the classroom with three straight years of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) as a team grade-point average. All players are encouraged to graduate in four years and take 15 hours in both the fall and spring semesters.

To help them meet their scholarly goals, schedules are made to limit the amount of missed class time. There is an academic advisor, study halls and the resources of the Mastodon Academic Performance Center.

“I’ve proctored exams,” says Pierce. “Professors on our campus are willing to work with us. We’ve got it figured out.”

Being in the Summit League with Denver, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Western Illinois, there is plenty of travel.

But it’s not like the first few years of NCAA Division I status as an independent. That’s when Fort Wayne was on the road for all but a handful of its 56 regular-season games away from Mastodon Field. Having no conference ties meant a berth in the NCAA tournament was virtually impossible.

One former Don player is seeing the world while still playing the game. Caleb Fenimore, a senior catcher on the 2014 team, was recently named the top hitter in the North in the German Professional League. The Rushville Consolidated High School graduate has played in Germany in the summer and Australia in the winter.

BOBBYPIERCE

Bobby Pierce is entering his 10th season at head coach of Fort Wayne Mastodons baseball in 2018. The NCAA Division I program is a member of the Summit League. (Fort Wayne Mastodons Photo)