Lafayette is the host city for the 2023 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North-South All-Star Series. A banquet is slated for 7 p.m. Friday, June 23 at Loeb Stadium. All-stars will be recognized and the Indiana Baseball Player of the Year Award will be given. All three games will be contested on the turf at Loeb Stadium. There is a noon doubleheader on Saturday, June 25 and single wood-bat game at noon Sunday, June 26. Indiana all-stars are seniors nominated by IHSBCA members and selected by a committee. Also, the Futures Game — which is actually a noon doubleheader featuring four teams of underclassmen — is slated for Wednesday, June 21 at Loeb.
Matthew Alter can see a future in baseball coaching at the collegiate level. He’s already gotten a head start by assisting in travel ball while also a college player himself. The 2019 graduate of Indianapolis Lutheran School with two years of eligibility remaining at Hanover (Ind.) College is in his third summer with the Indiana Bulls. He assisted with Scott French’s 15U Bulls Black squad in 2020. That team featured Class of 2023 standouts Max Clark (Franklin Community) and Andrew Wiggins (Heritage Christian). Alter aided (former Anderson University assistant) John Becker with the 15U Bulls Grey squad in 2021 and is now helping Becker’s 16U Bulls Grey team. By summer’s end the group will have played about 40 games with tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., LakePoint Sports in Emerson, Ga., and Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville, Mo. “After college the plan is to be a college baseball coach,” says Alter, who turned 22 in May. “The quickest way to be an assistant is to be a pitching coach. But I’m also interested in being a graduate assistant.” Matthew’s cousin, Jared Broughton, is a college baseball coach. He most recently served for three years at Clemson (S.C.) University. Dick Alter, Matthew’s father, retired from Indianapolis Lutheran following the 2019 season after 40 years of coaching (about the last 25 years of that as a teacher). “There’s so many thing he taught me,” says Matthew of the shared wisdom shared. “The biggest thing my dad taught me is that baseball is the game of life. “It doesn’t matter what you did today, it’s what you do tomorrow and the next day.” Born in Carmel, Ind., Matthew the son of Dick and Karen Alter (who is president of Borshoff, a public relations and advertising agency in Indianapolis). The Alter family moved to the south side of Indianapolis when their son was 3. He played at what is now Franklin Township Little League (located behind the former Wanamaker Elementary School) and then was in travel ball with the Indiana Prospects and Indiana Pony Express. Alter played football, basketball and baseball (for his father) at Lutheran then went to Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga., where Broughton was associate head coach. Matthew says going to college to play baseball meant “going from being an only child to having 40 brothers.” He counts slugger Alex Christie (Center Grove) among his good friends on the team. As a right-handed pitcher, Alter made six relief appearances during the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened 2020 season and went 1-0 with a 2.65 earned run average, nine strikeouts and six walks in 17 innings for the Piedmont Lions. Alter decided to transfer to another NCAA Division III school in Hanover. Grant Bellak is the Panthers head coach. Until leaving for another job, Thomas Murphy was HC’s pitching coach. “(Coach Bellak) and I have a great relationship,” says Alter. “He focuses more on hitters and infielders.” Murphy helped Alter in 2020-21 by helping him build up his lower half to utilize his power and increase velocity. Using a Core Velocity Belt and throwing weighted PlyoCare Balls with Driveline Baseball exercises were part of the routine. “(Murphy) helped us pitchers with the mental aspect of the game,” says Alter. “He is big on visualizing success and always trying to stay positive. It’s about keeping composure and maintaining positivity and self talk.” Alter pitched in 11 games (eight starts) in 2021 and went 5-0 with 45 strikeouts and 33 walks in 52 1/3 innings. In 13 contests (11 starts) in 2022, he was 5-5 with 45 strikeouts and 29 walks in 72 innings. The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference plays Saturday and Tuesday doubleheaders and Alter was the Saturday morning starter. “A lot of the teams (in the HCAC) are very similar,” says Alter. “They have a few good pitchers. But it relies solely on hitting. “That was evident in our conference tournament. There were a lot of high-scoring games.” Alter spent just over two weeks with the 2022 summer wood-bat Coastal Plain League’s Lexington County (S.C.) Blowfish before shutting it down for the summer with a tender shoulder. “It was from overuse,” says Alter, who did not play on any summer teams in 2019, 2020 and 2021. “But I did not tear my labrum.” Using a three-quarter arm slot, Alter throws two kinds of fastballs (four-seam and two-seam) plus a slider, change-up and curveball. He topped out at 87 mph with the four-seamer this summer. “The two-seamer is one of my best pitches,” says Alter. “It definitely moves. It starts at the middle of the plate and ends up outside to a lefty. It moves so much I’m able to fool hitters.” Alter employs a “circle” change and a 12-to-6 curve that he is able to throw for a strike in any count. A Communication major, Alter is on pace to graduate at the end of his fourth year in 2023. If he takes a fifth year, he says he will likely pursue a masters in Communication. Hanover does not have a graduate program in that subject.
As Ethan Bates grew up in East Central Indiana, he played some outfield and stood on the mound. But it wasn’t until he was leaving Frankton (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School in 2020 and getting ready for college baseball that Bates focused on a different way of pitching. The left-hander turned himself into a sidearmer/submariner and it’s helped him through two seasons at Jimmy Brenneman coached-Frontier Community College in Fairfield, Ill., and earned him a spot with NCAA Division I Grambling (La.) State University in the fall. It was while playing in a 2019 fall league in Pendleton, Ind., organized by Mike Shirley that Bates began dropping down with his delivery. He liked the results and kept at it. “I’ve been learning the past two years and trying to get better,” says Bates, who developed as a Frontier CC Bobcat. In 23 games (all in relief), he went 2-0 with 24 strikeouts and 22 walks in 24 innings. “The whole JUCO experience made a big impact on me as a player and a human,” says Bates, 20. “I got to grind in the middle of nowhere. You have to work really hard to get what you get in JUCO. “I embrace what it means to be a JUCO Bandit.” Twitter highlights posted of Bates posted by Frontier CC. That got the attention of Grambling State and he was contacted by Direct Message. He went for a visit and later signed with the Tigers in the fall of 2021. Grambling State — where Davin Pierre is the head coach — in located in the north central part of the state about 65 miles from Shreveport. “There’s lots to do,” says Bates. “I wanted wanted to play Down South where it’s warm.” The past two summers, Bates has pitched in the midday heat for the Palm Beach Xtreme of the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League (there was also two games for Trenton, N.J., Thunder of the 2021 MLB Draft League). His Florida connection was Miami resident and Frontier CC outfielder Nick Pompile. In his first 17 appearances for the Xtreme in 2022, he is 3-0 with seven saves, an 0.40 earned run average, 28 strikeouts and eight walks in 22 1/3 innings. Besides a sinking fastball, Bates uses a sweeping slider that moves in on a right-handed hitter and away from a lefty. His change-up drops. Born in Anderson, Ind., Bates went to middle school in the Pendleton Heights district then transferred to Frankton for high school, where he also play basketball for four years and football for one. He played recreation ball at Riverfield in Chesterfield, Ind. His first travel ball team was the Indiana Renegades. Bates spent several summers with the Indiana Bulls, including with head coach Sean Laird at 17U. One of his Bulls teammates was 2020 Mt. Vernon (Fortville) High School alum Nolan Bowser. He has also trained with Vanderbilt University commit Max Clark (Franklin Community Class of 2023) and Indiana University recruit Andrew Wiggins (Heritage Christian Class of 2023). A broken shoulder kept Bates from playing baseball as a Frankton freshman. He was with the varsity most of his sophomore year and all of his year season. The COVID-19 pandemic took away his senior slate. Brad Douglas was and still is the head coach of the Frankton Eagles. “He’s hard-nosed and a great competitor (just like Laird),” says Bates. “I love playing for coaches who are great competitors and have my back.” With an associate degree in Sciences & Arts earned at Frontier CC, Bates plans to major in Sports Management at Grambling State. Ethan, who turns 21 in November, is the son of Ryan Bates (Cami) and Karen Siek (Dan). His siblings are Lauryn Bates, Katie Shadoan and Seth Siek. Katie is the oldest, followed by Ethan, Lauryn and Seth.
A unique blend of active youths, men and women go to a space in Franklin, Ind., to get better at their chosen activity or to enjoy the company of friends. Located since 2017 inside the 400 Complex in Franklin, Ind., Powerhouse Athletics is available to college ballplayers who need to get in some cuts or a lift at 2 a.m. or to boys and girls learning in clinics or private lessons. Established in 2013 by Chad Fowler, Powerhouse Athletics’ training space — batting cages, bullpens, defensive areas and a fully-stocked weight room — is in the process of expanding from 20,000 to 33,000 square feet. The place located a mile north of Franklin College and less than two miles west of I-65 is equipped with HitTrax, Rapsodo, Blast sensors, Diamond Kinetics, iPitch, Hack Attack and many other developmental tools. “We also train athletic movement for football, basketball and adults,” says Fowler. “We’ve got a little bit of everything in here. “Our weight room is going from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. Our doors are open basically 100 percent of the time.” During the COVID-19 quarantine of 2020, some college players moved in. “We checked on them and brought them food,” says Fowler. “They were also doing school work.” As of this writing, 512 baseball and softball players train at Powerhouse Athletics. That number includes two 2020-21 Gatorade Player of the Year honorees — Max Clark (Franklin Community High School Class of 2023) in baseball and Keagan Rothrock (Roncalli High School Class of 2023) in softball. There are around 240 contracted players who compete for Team Powerhouse in travel baseball or softball. Each year that’s between 20 and 22 teams. Players come from as far north as Kokomo and as far south as Louisville. “It’s really a community program, but our community is more the state of Indiana than just Franklin,” says Franklin. There are six school districts in Johnson County — Franklin Community (Franklin Community High School), Center Grove Community (Center Grove High School), Clark-Pleasant Community (Whiteland Community High School), Edinburgh Community (Edinburgh High School), Greenwood Community (Greenwood Community High School) and Ninevah-Hensley-Jackson United (Indian Creek High School). Through mutual agreement, these students can train at Powerhouse free of charge if they work around lessons. “They help clean and with clinics and do a lot of mentoring with our youth,” says Fowler, who was born and raised in Franklin and graduated from Franklin Community in 1995. “And they’re not spending money to work on their craft.” Two physical therapists help athletes. Several teachers donate their time to help students with their studies. “We have grade checks here,” says Fowler. “We can help parents reinforce better behavior. We preach good character and good grades. “We want to get them on the right path.” Fowler insists on meeting every parents and athlete and knows them all by name. “(College) coaches call me because I know the kid on a personal level,” says Fowler. “I know his character and his work ethic. “They’re all my kids. There’s going to be some tough conversations. I’m going to love you death.” Powerhouse athletes are held accountable for their actions. Fowler keeps a white trapper folder with apology letters written to people that athletes might have wronged and gives them copies when the the athlete graduates high school. Besides owner Chad Fowler and softball pitching instructor Keagan Rothrock, trainers include Laura Rothrock (softball pitching), Mike Copeland (Max Strength and Performance), Sammy Wilkerson (Max Strength and Performance), Tony Maclennan (catching), Patrick Antone (baseball and softball hitting), Haley Wilkerson (softball hitting), Erin Lee (softball hitting), Corin Dammier (softball catching), Emma Bailey (softball pitching), Jake Sprinkle (baseball pitching), Grant Druckemiller (assistant facility manager and hitting), Cody Fowler (facility manager and hitting) and Dalton Carter (lead pitching instructor and arm health). Full-time employees are Chad Fowler, Cody Fowler, Carter, Druckemiller and office manager Rachel Fowler. Chad and Rachel Fowler have three sons — Cody (25), Blake (22) and Jace (18). Cody Fowler played baseball at Franklin Community High school and attended Indiana State University. Reptile-loving Blake Fowler — he has a room for them at Powerhouse — has completed Ivy Tech and is looking into further educational options. Jace Fowler (Franklin Community Class of 2022) is committed to play baseball at Indiana State. Jace is part of a group that was with Chad Fowler from age 7 to 17 — aka “The Kids That Built The House.” The others are Xavier Brown, Max Clark, Logen Devenport, Drew Doty and Nolan Netter. Clark has been coming to Powerhouse since he was 5. Cooper Trinkle has been part of the crew since 7. Brothers Cooper and Grant Trinkle regularly come to Powerhouse Athletics to help with youth clinics etc. While many athletes have gone from Powerhouse Athletics to college teams and others have made that commitment, Fowler takes no credit for that and he does not place one achievement about another. “That’s that kids and parents’ success,” says Fowler. “I’m just excited for the kid who gets into trade school as one who gets into Indiana State or Vanderbilt. “We literally try to invest in every kid. It’s not just a baseball and softball building. It’s a good place. Everybody is one team. It’s what I require.” Fowler witnesses a facility full of grinders and see that spirit around this cold-weather state. “Indiana is a hotbed for baseball and softball talent,” says Fowler. “It’s incredible. “Our Indiana athletes can compete with anybody out there. They do great work.”
2021 IHSBCA ALL-STATE TEAM Class 4A Pitchers: Grant Stratton (Jasper), Nate Dohm (Zionsville). C: Hunter Dobbins (Mount Vernon of Fortville). 1B: Kaleb Kolpien (Homestead). 2B: Joel Walton (Mount Vernon of Fortville). 3B: Connor Foley (Jasper). SS: Tucker Biven (New Albany). OF: Carter Mathison (Homestead), Max Clark (Franklin), Tommy O’Connor (Mooresville). Honorable Mention: Evan Waggoner (Bedford North Lawrence); Austin Bode (Columbus North); Jaden Deel (Hobart); Andrew Wallace (Jasper); Jackson Micheels (Carmel); Breenen Weigert (Homestead); Jack Braun (Fishers); Tyler Walkup (Lawrence North); Quentin Markle (Westfield); Joe Huffman (Avon); Nick Mitchell (Carmel); Brad White (Andrean); Blake Herrmann (Castle); Camden Jordan (Cathedral); Sam Gladd (Columbia City); Eli Hopf (Jasper); Brody Chrisman (Zionsville); J.D. Rogers (Carmel); Keaton Mahan (Westfield); Gage Standifer (Westfield); Kyler McIntosh (Columbus North); Chris Gallagher (Cathedral); Carter Doorn (Lake Central); Grant Comstock (Valparaiso); Tate Warner (Fishers); Carter Gilbert (Northridge).