The reputation of the school and the draw of the game have come together for Shayne Stock. He was recently approved as head baseball coach at Jeffersonville (Ind.) School. “It’s one of the most-storied programs in this part of the state if not the whole state,” says Shock, who welcomed 32 players to IHSAA Limited Contact Period Activities. It is hoped that the Red Devils can field three teams — varsity and sub-varsity — this spring. Jeffersonville (enrollment around 2,130) is a member of the Hoosier Hills Conference (with Bedford North Lawrence, Columbus East, Floyd Central, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour). The Red Devils were are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour. Jeffersonville has won 26 sectional titles — the last in 2019. Three alums — Drew Ellis, Gabe Bierman and Drew Campbell — played pro ball in 2022. Ellis, son of previous Jeffersonville head coach and 1984 JHS graduate Derek Ellis, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2021. The Red Devils regularly produce college players. Max McEwen (Class of 2022) went to Indiana State University. Shortstop/pitcher Brett Denby is verbally-committed to the University of Georgia. Jeffersonville plays home games on Don Poole Field at John Schnatter Stadium. The facility got a turf infield a few years back. In assembling his coaching staff, Stock has gotten commitments so far from Jeff Crawford, Alec Dunn and Josh Biven. Crawford has been in the program for two decades. Dunn, a teacher, played for four years Stock at Hanover. Biven coached New Albany Little League deep into the tournament and is the father of University of Louisville freshman Tucker Biven. Jeff/GRC Little League also has a shining profile and feeds the high school program. With two middle schools — Parkview and River Valley — Stock hopes to have full seventh and eighth grade teams in the spring. Stock concluded a 13-year run as head coach at Hanover (Ind.) College in 2018. “I enjoyed working with the guys on a day-to-day basis, the competition level and the travel,” says Stock. Before leading the NCAA Division III Hanover Panthers, Stock served as head coach for four years at NCAA DIII Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. (2002 to 2005), pitching coach at DIII DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. (1998 and 1999) and was an assistant at Clarksville (Ind.) High School (1997) and an assistant at Hanover (2000 and 2001) under Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association and American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dr. Dick Naylor. A 1992 Clarksville graduate, Shayne played for and later coached with his father Wayne Stock, who went into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame in 1994. Everything I know about being professional and communicating with kids I learned in my first 22 years,” says Shayne Stock of his father. “He is the foundation of any opportunity I’ve ever had. “I would assume there are lots of similarities (in our coaching styles). (My teams are) going to be well-prepared and well-disciplined. We’ll play hard until the 21st out is recorded.” Stock is a 1996 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. Gary Redman led the NCAA Division II Screaming Eagles his freshman year and Mike Goedde the last three seasons. “(Redman) is the the most meticulous detail-oriented human,” says Stock. “He’s the best baseball coach I’ve been around. “Pretty much all I do pitching philosophy-wise comes from Coach Goedde.” Stock earned a Masters in Education from Indiana University Southeast in New Albany in 2004. He has taught at area high schools, including Jeffersonville and Charletown, and is married with children.
Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg, Ind., fielded its first baseball team in 2021. The Jay Hafele-coached Lions played at the junior varsity level and did not participate in the IHSAA tournament. RCCA ended the season with 13 players. More than half of the team had played little or no organized baseball. “A lot of people came out because they wanted to try it,” says Hafele, who expects the numbers and Baseball I.Q. to climb. “I think we’re going to have 20 this year,” says Hafele, a 1998 Evansville Harrison High School graduate who played three years of college baseball and is teaching Physical Education, Health and Life Skills to high school and middle school students at the K-12 institution (it became a charter school in 2010). “We’ll have more knowledgeable people than we’ve ever had that played Little League and (baseball’s) been a part of their life. “We don’t have a field (on-campus) yet, but that’s in the works.” Rock Creek played and practiced last spring at Silver Creek Township Park, which is less than a mile from the school. Two public high schools — Silver Creek and Charlestown — are 1.3 and 6.1 miles away, respectively. More participation means the possibility of more pitchers which will help with the IHSAA pitch count rule. “Our rule of thumb is let the hitter get himself out,” says Hafele. “Throw strikes. That’s all we need.” Other concepts that the coach sees as important are sportsmanship, leadership, fun and the ability to move on from mistakes. “We’re not letting the last play effect your next play,” says Hafele. “I can’t emphasize that enough. “Just get the next out.” Hafele hopes his team — which again play a JV slate in 2022 — will be able to scrimmage Charlestown in the preseason to more-prepared for games. B.J. Paro is one of his assistants and Hafele hopes to have more. The Lions’ 2021 schedule included Indiana’s Cannelton, Columbus Christian, Crawford County, Henryville, Jennings County, Lanesville, Perry Central, Providence, Scottsburg, Shawe Memorial, Springs Valley and West Washington and Kentucky’s Whitefield Academy. Rock Creek Community Academy (enrollment around 180) is an independent with no athletic conference affiliation. An IHSAA Limited Contact Period goes from Aug. 30-Oct. 16. With Rock Creek’s size (about 180 in the top four grades) and many players in football (seven of nine 2021 baseball starters played that sport and Hafele has been on the coaching staff) or soccer, the Lions have not worked out in the fall. RCCA’s football team practices on-campus, but rents space at Woehrle Athletic Complex, which is five miles from campus in Jeffersonville, Ind., for home games. An outfielder as a player, Hafele played for head coach Andy Rice at Harrison then for one season for Mike Goedde at the University of Southern Indiana before transferring to John A. Logan College, a National Junior College Athletic Association member in Carterville, Ill., and played one season for Jerry Halstead. From there, Hafele went to NCAA Division I McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., but never suffered a shoulder injury and never played for the Cowboys. He played his final college season for Rick Parr at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. Jay and wife Jill, who also teaches at Rock Creek, have three children — son Cooper (12), daughter Skylar (7) and son Chase (2).
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association members have voted and selected 16 district players of the year for 2021.
All-State and Indiana Player of the Year voting begins June 6.
The IHSAA state tournament series begins with sectionals May 26-31, followed by regionals June 5, semistates June 12 and the State Finals June 21-22. The IHSBCA Futures Games and North/South All-Star Series is slated for June 23-27 in Evansville.
Here’s a look at the 16 seniors chosen at Players of the Year in Districts A through P:
Says Swartzentruber: “Carter has been with us for two years following his transfer from Illiana Christian … Great kid, great student and great leader on our young team. One of my favorite players I have coached during my 24 years. … He has been a dominant player this year for us both on the mound and at the plate. There is not a doubt in my mind that he will do great things at Purdue and beyond. Great work ethic and very competitive young man.”
Lake Central is in the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional.
Says Evans: “He’s been a great pitcher for us, probably one of the more dominant pitchers in the (Duneland Athletic Conference). He’s a leader on and off the field. He also plays football and basketball. He’s a hard-working kid.”
Valparaiso is in the Class 4A Chesterton Sectional.
Says Smolinski: “Kyle has been blessed with an amazing ability to excel in both athletics and academics. Along with Kyle’s great leadership skills, he’s an outstanding teammate who respects his coaches, teachers and family. He’s hard-working, motivated and driven in everything that he does. I’m so proud of Kyle and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach him. I look forward to seeing him succeed on and off the field in the future … Kyle is the type of player where you wish you had nine of him on the field. He does everything you ask. He makes his teammates better.”
St. Joseph is in the Class 3A South Bend Clay Sectional.
Says Byall: “He has been a phenomenal player for us for four years. He is extremely talented, but has also worked extremely hard to transform his body and skills to an elite level … He is phenomenal to coach because you know he’s going to work hard and go about his business the right way every single day. He has been phenomenal for us this year, performing at such a high level, and by working hard everyday. He has a really bright future.”
Homestead is in the Class 4A Huntington North Sectional.
E — Jacob Loftus (Peru). A righty-swinging catcher for Tigers coach Chuck Brimbury, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Loftus has not yet made his college commitment. He plans to major in Secondary Math Education.
Say Brimbury: “Jacob is the best high school player I have coached at Peru High School in my two-plus decades. Hard worker, captain, tough, talented, and a model of ‘team first’ guy. We have have had two drafts, dozens of college players and several D-1 players from our program. Jacob ‘Yogi’ Loftus is our best to play here.”
Says King: “Hunter is a very talented player — one of the best I’ve had. Hunter is probably the best all-around hitter I’ve ever had. He’s definitely a five-tool player. He has the ability to play not only at the collegiate level but the professional level … He’s a good leader (for the program’s first outright Hoosier Heritage Conference championship). He talks hitting and situations all the time with our guys.”
Mount Vernon is in the Class 4A Pendleton Heights Sectional.
Says Marker: “I don’t think there’s another player in the state of Indiana that means more to his team than Luke means to ours. He strikes out between 15 and 21 guys (per game) … He’s had 11 strikeouts in four innings (a couple of times) … At the 1A level he strikes fear into the hearts of hitters … He’s got six pitches. He’ll have to whittle that down at the next level.”
Seton Catholic is in the Class 1A Seton Catholic Sectional.
Says Doty: “Kameron is the kind of player every coach hopes they will have the opportunity to coach — hard-working, dedicated, coachable, but most importantly a leader! Add it in the athletic ability and that describes Kameron Salazar. He has the ability to hit any pitch in any count to all fields. He is one of the best pure hitters I have had the opportunity to coach … His quick hands aid him both on the offensive and defensive side of the game. He will use all fields offensively and has significant range in the middle of the infield … All of those abilities — as great as they are — of course don’t come even close to describing his character! He is one of the nicest young men you would ever meet and terrific teammate! He has been (would have been) a four-year starter for us at shortstop if not for COVID. He has been the heart and soul of our program for the past four years and he will be great missed as he moves on to Marian next year. It’s truly been an honor to have the opportunity to coach him these past four years.”
Says Koeppen: “He’s by far one of the most enjoyable kids I’ve ever coached. He works as hard as anybody at practice. He does things the right way all the time … It’s been fun to sit back and watch him play this year.”
Lafayette Jeff is in the Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional.
Says Cosgray: “Garrett is just a very well-rounded player. He’s an exceptional right-handed pitcher, topping out at 95 mph with good command of his curveball, slider and change-up … Defensively at shortstop, he’s very sound. He makes the routine play but also has the ability to make the spectacular play when necessary … He hits in the 3-hole for us. He can hit for power. He’s a gap-to-gap approach hitter, hitting over .500. It’s hard to find a more well-rounded player than him.”
Lebanon is in the Class 3A North Montgomery Sectional.
Says Freje: “He’s been a lead-off hitter and the top arm we go to … Chris is comfortable (as a sidearmer). He’s taken that role and run with it … He’s been incredibly impactful on the bases. He’s a gamer. He’s embraced all the roles he’s been given. He’s been a pleasure to coach.”
Says Jones: “He throws 92 mph-plus and he mixes his pitches real well. He gets a lot of strikeouts. He’s able to throw the ball up, throw the ball down and hit the corners … He hits well. He’s well over 400. He’s just a consistent guy.”
Edgewood is in the Class 3A Owen Valley Sectional.
Says Decker: “He’s had a really good senior year. He’s been good on the mound and at the plate for us. He probably could have gone some places to be a two-way (having played all over the field). He’s one of the better athletes I’ve got to coach … Stuff comes really easy to him.”
Silver Creek is in the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional.
Says Mattingly: “He’s one of those kids who’s humble, hard-working and he competes. He want to be the best and he goes about his business to be the best … I’ve been around him a long time and he’s just a good kid.”
Southridge is in the Class 3A Southridge Sectional.
Says Goedde: “He’s been our most-consistent player all year. He’s in the middle of a good season. He’s had minimal slumps …. He’s versatile enough that he can play just about anywhere. Henry moves very well. He’s got a good, athletic body.”
Evansville Central is in the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional.
IHSBCA 2021 District Players of the Year (School/Head Coach)
“I enjoy the challenge,” says Barney. “I enjoy the aspect of recruiting. You’re always looking for the next best thing.”
A poor team can get better quickly with a solid recruiting class.
‘I’m often asked, what are you looking for in college baseball? Bats play. If you can swing the pole, you’re going to play at the junior college level.”
VU’s stated mission is “to provide associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of academic and occupational majors leading to entry to a four-year university or to the workforce.”
Vincennes serves more than 17,000 at its various locations with about a third of that number at the main campus.
“It’s not the typical junior college,” says Barney. “It has a mid-major collegiate feel.”
The goal of the baseball program is to place student-athletes with a place to play at a four-year college. As of last week, 96 Vincennes players had moved on during the decade that Barney’s been in charge, including 32 to NCAA Division I, many to NCAA D-II and NAIA and a few to NCAA D-III.
Barney sees players choose the junior college route for many reasons. Among them are cost, grade issues, level of play, the chance to play right away or be drafted by Major League Baseball and not have to wait to turn 21 or play three seasons like is required at four-year schools.
The Trailblazers’ core beliefs revolve around faith, family, school and baseball.
“It’s like a three-ring circus of academics, athletics and the social scene,” says Barney of Vincennes campus life. “You have to have self-discipline and time management skills. You prioritize where you want to spend your time and what you want to get accomplished out of college.
“You can obtain your full potential as a player. That’s what junior college offers guys.”
Junior college players are allowed to practice more often that those at other levels.
All the time with the team allows individuals to built work ethic, character and emotional stability and, hopefully, have a positive experience.
“It’s an opportunity to get better,” says Barney. “There’s always obstacles and challenges for guys, where it’s an injury, a class, a teammate or playing time. But they learn the fundamental game of baseball.”
School rules say Vincennes freshmen must stay in campus housing. Sophomores have the choice to live on-campus or off-campus. Barney says there’s about a 50-50 split for his current sophomore class.
Barney, who is assisted by Hank Lopez and Matt Goebel, started out with 37 players in the fall and took 31 into the spring.
Almost all of those have hometowns in Indiana.
Until a couple of years ago, Indiana was Barney’s recruiting base. Such scholarship money is based on in-state tuition.
With the favorable rates and so many Illinois junior college baseball programs as opposed to Indiana (which now has three — Vincennes, Ancilla College and Ivy Tech Northeast), plenty of Indiana players choose to play junior college baseball in Illinois.
But Illinois has been opened up so that VU can offer students there a cost similar to what they would get in-state.
“I hope to drive up the price of poker in Illinois for some of those guys,” says Barney of landing Illinois players for the VU program.
Rules allow junior colleges to play 20 games against outside competition in the fall. Vincennes also plays about 10 intrasquad games. There are 56 regular-season games in the spring.
That’s a lot of innings to cover so Barney typically carries 16 to 18 pitches, some of whom also play other positions.
“I love those guys,” says Barney. “If they can be successful at both, it’s well worth or time and energy to put the effort into that.”
Vincennes went into play April 3 at 15-12 overall and 4-4 in the conference.
There is a 32-game conference schedule. The top eight teams go to the MWAC tournament. The winner advances to the NJCAA D-II World Series (May 25-June 1 in Enid, Okla.).
“There’s a lot of positives in moving over to that region,” says Barney. “Before, we were independent in Region 12, which is Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Trying to find games in late March, April and part of May was a bear.”
Vincennes went to the World Series in 2010 and 2014 under the old qualifying format. Teams were required to make it through a sub-regional to get to an eight-team double-elimination tournament that sent the champion to championship series.
The Trailblazers play home games at Jeremy Blemker Field.
Huntingburg, Ind., native Blemker coached for 38 years, including 26 at Vincennes (1980-2006) and amassed a NJCAA-record 1,037 victories. He sent more than 180 players on to play at universities around the country and 27 signed professional contracts.
The original Blemker Field was on the VU campus. It was razed to make room for Updike Hall Scienc Earth and Mathematics Learning Center and the Trailblazers moved to a new baseball complex on Old Terre Haute Road five years ago.
Barney says the university has continued to provide the team with the means to maintain the facility.
Before landing at VU, Orlando, Fla., native Barney has made several baseball coaching stops. He was assistant coach and recruiting director for 13 years at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
Barney played for Policastro (now head coach at Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee) at Tenessee Weselyan and was a teammate and coached alongside Griffin (now head coach at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn.) at that same school. Goedde (now head coach at Evansville Central High School) was USI head coach when Barney was on the staff. Robins led the squad at St. John’s River.
“You take a little bit from everybody,” says Barney. “You put your own personality on the program, too.
“It’s fun. The kids keep you young and always bring something new to the table.”
Chris Barney is in his 10th season as head baseball coach at Vincennes (Ind.) University in 2019. (Steve Krah Photo)
“They’re just baseball kids,” says Jones. “It’s a group that’s jelled together.
“They do the little things.”
North batters produced a 2-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio and the Huskies stole 130 bases in 2018.
Right-handed pitcher Toone moved on to Vincennes University.
Returnees and incoming players have Jones seeing a bright future on the north side of the Pocket City.
“This is the most talent I’ve had freshmen through seniors,” says Jones.“I couldn’t be more excited about the (2019) season.
“The sophomores and freshmen are a pretty good group for us.”
Returning seniors include shortstop Alex Archuleta (son of University of Southern Indiana head coach Tracy Archuleta), outfielder Seth Seniour and catcher A.J. Wheeler.
While a few may be added, Jones expects his coaching staff to include David Johnson, Zane Mauser, John Newman, Dustin Murray, Tyler Owen and Kyle Kempf.
Another thing that has Jones pumped is the IHSAA rule change which allows periods where coaches can work with the whole squad for twice a week for two hours each (rather than two athletes at a time) and that first window opens Monday, Aug. 27.
“This is going to help with coaches who are ready to invest in practices,” says Jones. “It will be a huge advantage for people who are ready to work.”
Jones says he expects to have about 45 players in his program — varsity, junior and freshman — and another 15 on the Cub (eighth grade) team.
Jones began his run with the Huskies with the 2013 season and North won 19 and and 18 contests those first two years. That ’13 team had no returning starters.
A 1994 Evansville Bosse graduate and former Eugene Pate American Legion Post 265 player, Jones was a four-year starter at third base for the USI in Evansville with a redshirt year.
Mike Goedde, who had coached Jones during his junior Legion season, was his head coach at USI.
“He taught me that to get anything you have to work hard,” says Jones of Goedde, who is now head coach at Evansville Central High School. “You have to put the time and effort in to be a good baseball player.
“Coach Goedde was definitely organized and we got our reps in.”
Jones has three simple rules for his North Huskies and they are posted in the dugout — be one time; be a good teammate; always hustle.
“If our kids follow those three guidelines we’re in a pretty good place as a program,” says Jones.
Playing for Goedde is the basis of those rules.
“Coach Goedde was definitely organized and we got our reps in,” says Jones. “It’s loving the game and having the ability to work hard.
“You want to get better.”
Jones graduated from USI in 1999. He was an assistant coach at Bosse from 2001-04 and then head coach of the Bulldogs from 2005-12. In the summers, he also coached the junior team for Pate Post 265 from 1998-2003 and Pate’s senior squad from 2007-13.
Evansville North belongs to the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (along with Evansville Bosse, Evansville Central, Castle, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville Memorial and Evansville Reitz).
SIAC teams play one another twice in home-and-home series on Tuesday and Thursday or Friday for seventh straight weeks.
All-SIAC performers for the Huskies in 2018 were pitcher Toone and outfielder Newton on the first team and Archuleta on the second team.
Selection of the squads, which will include senior players from all four classes (25 from the South and 25 from the North), is scheduled the morning of the IHSAA State Finals on Saturday, June 16 at Victory Field in Indianapolis.
North and South committees will review the names sent in from the 16 district meetings held on June 3.
Each head coach, who is an IHSBCA member, will receive notification from the district representative informing him of the time and place of the meeting.
It’s be said that people are the sum of their added experiences and influences.
Phil Kluesner picked up some things from his high school coach and others from his college coach and others along the way and it has brought him to where he is — heading into his 10th season as head baseball coach at his alma mater, Bloomington High School South.
Listing the qualities instilled by Goedde, Kluesner lists intensity, work ethic and competitive drive.
“We had a lot of talent on that team,” says Kluesner, who was with the baseball team for two years. He would earn a mass communications degree from USI and a secondary education degree from Indiana University-Bloomington.
Kluesner’s first coaching go-round came in Babe Ruth League baseball in Bloomington.
“I really liked it,” says Kluesner. “Rex Grossman was on my team. He was a phenomenal baseball player. He was just a better football player.”
Grossman would later be Indiana’s Mr. Football and quarterback at the University of Florida and in the National Football League.
After Kluesner’s stint as a South assistant, he served two seasons as a Shelbyville High School assistant to Mike Hobbs and Scott Hughes and then was head coach at Columbus North High School 2003-08 before coming back to wear the purple and white.
Kluesner coached a travel team made up mostly of South players known as the Bloomington Wizards and is considering bringing it back just to keep his players together.
“We’ve got some pretty good young talent coming through,” says Kluesner. “Travel teams are like mushrooms when you get too much rain. So many of them pop up. It’s almost overwhelming.
“The big thing I’ve noticed chemistry is difficult with them playing all over the place. They don’t know each other. It makes it difficult with our high school team. Chemistry is the thing teams are lacking. It’s become highly individualistic. It’s a team sport.”
With control of his own high school players, Kluesner will have a say in development.
“In the summer, it’s about showcasing yourself,” says Kluesner. “You get your hacks and sit down. I’m not going to discourage all kids from doing that. Some need (higher-profile travel baseball). But we could offer that with our Wizards and do it for less money. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just my opinion.”
Kluesner has produced Class 4A sectional championship teams in 2010, 2015 and 2016 and sent a number of players on to NCAA Division I college baseball.
Alex Franklin (Class of 2018) made a verbal commit to Indiana as a sophomore and signed in early November.
Franklin has been a shortstop and a center fielder. With his BHSS head coach valuing versatility, he’s also in the pitching mix.
“The more pitchers the better,” says Kluesner. “I don’t have a lot of pitcher-onlys.”
While on the subject of pitching, what about the pitch count rules (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days) adopted in 2017?
“I’m a pitching guy and I think it’s too lenient,” says Kluesner. “The pitch count should be a little more stringent. I’ve never pitched a guy 120 pitches in my life. We try to set our schedules week to week basis. My big arm will only throw once a week.”
It’s all about a lack of effectiveness.
“We need to teach kids to be efficient and not be so erratic,” says Kluesner, who has had hurlers throw complete games in 70 or fewer tosses. That’s the reason they pitch so many pitches.
“Kids are out of control. They’re over throwing. There’s so much emphasis on velocity nowadays. Kids can be effective if they’re competitive.”
Catchers are expected to rely on their own knowledge to help guide the pitcher.
“I’m big on teaching kids to call their own game behind the plate,” says Kluesner. “You know they get it when they cut you off and say, “I know, Coach. I know what to call.’
“Catchers are better ballplayers if they learn.”
Besides letting the players take ownership of the game, there’s a third dimension by being behind the dish that coaches don’t see clearly from the dugout. Catchers know if the pitch is in or out, up or down and can adjust the pitch selection accordingly.
Another teaching point for all players is not to argue with or complain to the umpire.
“It’s their job to adapt to the umpire,” says Kluesner. “They’re all different.”
Kluesner’s assistants for 2018 are Trevor McConnell (varsity), Eric Dodds (varsity), Mike Vaughn (junior varsity), A.J. Hartman (JV and freshmen) and Kevin Gross (freshmen).
South typically keeps 45 to 50 players for its three teams.
“We always seem to have some large freshmen classes,” says Kluesner. “The year we went to semistate (2015), we had 11 seniors. On average, we have six or seven.
“It’s hard to keep all those kids anymore,” says Kluesner. “The mentality has changed. It’s hard to teach them roles. Everyone wants to be the star.”
Kluesner says the ideal number of players for a single week-night game is around 14 or 15. That way he can get his bench players into the game as courtesy/pinch runners, defensive replacements, pinch-hitters or relief pitchers.
The varsity roster might swell near 20 for the weekend doubleheader as Kluesner and his assistants bring JV players to reward them for their performance.
The Panthers belong to Conference Indiana (along with Bloomington North, Columbus North, Franklin Central, Perry Meridian, Southport, Terre Haute North Vigo and Terre Haute South Vigo).
Panthers home games are played at Groh Memorial Field, which dates back to 1965.
“It’s the original field,” says Kluesner, referring to the split of Bloomington High School into South and North for the 1972-73 school year. “It’s hollowed ground to us.
“When you think you’re playing the same place as thousands of other players, it gives you goosebumps. I make sure the players know that and respect that.”
Kluesner is expecting a major overhaul of the facility soon and South could welcome lights for the 2018 season.
Mike Goedde has coached collegians and now leads high schoolers.
“(The difference in) physical skills are obvious,” says Goedde. “With high school players, you have to be more patient. You know you’re going to have more physical and mental errors. You just try to keep them to a minimum.”
When the playing career ended, Brownlee gave Goedde a chance to coach.
“He was a huge influence on the field and a huge influence off the field,” says Goedde. “He taught me a lot of things instead of just baseball.
“There’s guys out there that need chances and I can provide those as well.”
Goedde decided to get his teaching license so he could teach baseball and life lessons. He eventually landed at Central for the 2011 season.
“We teach more than just the X’s and O’s,” says Goedde as he prepared the Bears for the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional. “The kids are all ears. Very few of them tune you out. They’re eager to learn.”
With his background, Goedde is hands-on with his pitchers.
“We develop them to win with their fastball,” says Goedde. “I’m not a big fan of a lot of junk (or breaking pitches). Locating the fastball is the most important thing.”
That is the case with his current crop of hurlers and that was true when he coached future big league right-hander Andy Benes at U of E. He was taken first overall by the San Diego Padres in the 1988 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and went on to win 155 MLB games in 14 seasons with the Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks.
While Goedde never played for or coached with Gries, who retired after the 2001 season, he commends the man.
“The more I coach high school players, the more I admire what he was able to do,” says Goedde. “He was known for developing a family atmosphere.”
Helping Goedde guide the program in 2017 are assistant coaches Robbie Frank, Chris Chitwood and Dave Pfetscher at the varsity level, Jon Pfetscher, Ryan Causey and Charlie Causey with junior varsity and Kevin Kolb and Gary Masterson with the freshmen.
The JV and freshmen have a different schedule from the Bears varsity. Goedde generally keeps 38 to 40 players in the program each season.
The spring, the IHSAA adopted pitch count rules (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).
“I think it’s a great rule,” says Goedde. “It’s being done for all for the right reasons and right purposes.
“It’s something to make people aware of some guidelines.”
Through games played May 18, the Bears had one pitcher come close to the limit, tossing 119 pitches in a complete game.
While pitch count numbers can become a part of strategy, Goedde is of a mind that coaches are coached on their own pitchers more than opponents.
“As time goes on, they’ll figure out ways to get the opposing kid’s count,” says Goedde. “It’s tough to convince (hitters) to drive up the pitch count.”
The Central Bears play in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (along with Castle, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Reitz, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville North and Evansville Memorial).
SIAC schools play each other once a week in a two-game home-and-home series, making it possible for teams to use their top starting pitchers in conference games.
Central players come from area Little League, Babe Ruth and travel programs. In the spring, seventh and eighth graders on their way to Central play Cub baseball.
Mike Goedde is in his seventh season as head baseball coach at Evansville Central High School. He is a former head coach at the University of Southern Indiana and served two stints as pitching coach at the University of Evansville and one as an assistant at Evansville Harrison High School.