Tag Archives: Mitch Hannahs

Illinois junior colleges tap into Indiana baseball talent

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Illinois junior college baseball has long been a destination for Indiana players.
Many have used the two-year institutions to springboard into a four-year school or the professional ranks.
Our neighbors to the west sport 41 National Junior College Athletic Association programs in Division I, II and III (Regions 4 or 24).
There is a difference between divisions.
NJCAA Divisions I and II can offer up to 24 athletic scholarships. Division III schools do not. Most (but not all) junior colleges have other scholarship and financial aid options.
Illinois’ NJCAA D-I teams include Frontier Community College (Fairfield), John A. Logan College (Carterville), Kakaskia College (Centralia), Kishwaukee College (Malta), Lake Land College (Mattoon), Lincoln Trail College (Robinson), Olive-Harvey College (Chicago), Olney Central College (Olney), Rend Lake College (Ina), Shawnee CC (Ullin), South Suburban College (South Holland), Southeastern Illinois College (Harrisburg), Southwestern Illinois College (Swansea), Triton College (River Grove) and Wabash Valley College (Mount Carmel).
Wabash Valley went 59-9 and qualified for the 2022 NJCAA D-I World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” says Wabash Valley coach Aaron Biddle, who is in his eighth season with the Warriors and first as head coach in 2023. “We’ve had some very good Indiana kids over the years. We’re just right across the border form Princeton, Ind. Getting into Evansville and going up to Indianapolis are great recruiting sources for us.
“Our conference is real competitive.”
John A. Logan, Kakaskia, Lake Land, Lincoln Trail, Olney Central, Rend Lake, Shawnee, Southeastern Illinois, Southwestern Illinois and Wabash Valley is in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference.
WVC plays mostly D-I schools with a few D-II’s sprinkled in.
“The more D-I opponents you have on your schedule the better it is for your (RPI) rankings,” says Biddle.
What does “JUCO Bandit” means to Biddle, who started his college playing career at former NJCAA D-III St. Catharine in Kentucky and finished at NCAA D-II Kentucky Wesleyan.
“Maybe he’s not be getting the offers he wants at (NCAA) D-I or a big school and he’s going to bet on himself and he’s going to go the JUCO route, grind for two years and get better everyday and definitely get that offer he’s not getting right now,” says Biddle. “We get to spend a lot of time with our guys. We get to be with them almost every single day. There’s not a lot of restrictions on how much practice time we have.
“The big things is that in the fall, we get to play 14 dates. We get to play every weekend. Guys are getting all those extra innings and they’re getting to compete. That’s a big thing for us.
“In baseball you’ve got to play to get better.”
Biddle says the funnest aspect of his job is seeing players land at their dream school.
South Suburban posted a 42-19 record in 2022.
Kevin Bowers has been head coach at Lincoln Trail since the 2010 season. That was the sophomore season of Justin Hancock (who went on to pitch in the big leagues and is now an Indiana State University assistant).
Bowers was on the LTC staff since 2001 and was an assistant to then-Statesmen head coach Mitch Hannahs (who is now head coach at Indiana State).
Bowers coached at ISU for the 2000 season. Lincoln Trail is about 10 miles from the Indiana line and 40 miles from ISU.
“The talent level is just off the chart,” says Bowers. “I’m certainly not knocking the state of Illinois. We’ve had a great deal of success with kids out of Indiana.”
Bowers has a take on “JUCO Bandit.”
“We develop an ‘ask no quarter, take no quarter’ mentality,” says Bowers. “We don’t want for a lot. We don’t need a lot. But we try to get a lot done.
“’Bandit has that negative connotation to it. When you go to junior college your mindset is that you’re foregoing the 100,000-seat football stadium. There’s not a lot of nightlife. Campus activities are geared around the athletics. You develop a worker’s mentality.
“There’s not a lot of thrills, but the talent at this level is crazy good.”
Bowers said there was a time when junior college baseball was battling the perception that their players had got booted from another school or could not make grades.
“Our guys are getting it done in the classroom and they’re getting it done on the field,” says Bowers, whose program earned a 2021-22 American Baseball Coaches Association Team Excellence Award for posting a grade-point average of 3.0 or above. “It’s a situation where academically you’re not going to lose ground.”
Illinois’ NJCAA D-II squads are Black Hawk-Moline College (Moline), Carl Sandburg College (Galesburg), Danville Area CC (Danville), Elgin CC (Elgin), Heartland CC (Normal), Highland College (Freeport), Illinois Central College (East Peoria), Illinois Valley CC (Oglesby), John Wood CC (Quincy), Kankakee CC (Kankakee), College of Lake County (Grayslake), Lewis & Clark CC (Godfrey), Lincoln Land CC (Springfield), McHenry County College (Crystal Lake), Moraine Valley CC (Palos Heights), Morton College (Cicero), Parkland College (Champaign), Prairie State College (Chicago Heights), Sauk Valley CC (Dixon) and Spoon River College (Canton).
Heartland (49-10) played in the 2022 NJCAA D-II World Series in Enid, Okla.
The Mid-West Athletic Conference features Heartland, Danville Area, Illinois Central, John Wood, Lewis & Clark, Lincoln Land, Parkland and Spoon River plus Vincennes (Ind.) University.
Also in 2022, Kankakee went 43-17, McHenry 40-18, Black Hawk-Moline 35-20, Lake County 32-20 and Morton 32-20.
Illinois’ NJCAA D-III features College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn), Harper College (Palatine), Joliet Junior College (Joliet), Oakton CC (Skokie), Rock Valley College (Rockport) and Waubonsee CC (Sugar Grove).
The Arrowhead Conference is made up of Black Hawk-Moline, Carl Sandburg, Highland, Illinois Valley, Kishwaukee and Sauk Valley.
Oakton (34-28-1) competed in the 2022 NJCAA D-III World Series in Greenville, Tenn.
Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference includes Lake County, Elgin, McHenry County, Moraine Valley, Morton, Oakton, Prairie State and Waubonsee.
Since 1993, Triton is a two-time D-I World Series runner-up (1993 and 1994).
D-II World Series titles were earned by Kishwaukee (1999), Lincoln Land (2000), Parkland (2002 and 2009) and Kankakee (2017). Parkland was also a runner-up in 2018.
Joliet earned D-III World Series championships in 1994, 2008 and 2012 and placed second in 1995 and 2015. Oakton reigned in D-III in 2018 and Waubonsee was runner-up in 1996.

Saskatchewan native Komonosky leading catchers as Indiana State assistant

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Ben Komonosky was a catcher at the NCAA Division I level and now he coaches them.
Plenty of times, he has been asked to “be a wall” behind the plate.
Komonosky, who played at the University of Evansville and is in his first year as a volunteer assistant at Indiana State University (also a member of the Missouri Valley Conference), says that’s the wrong mental picture.
The idea is to stop the flying object and keep it in front of you.
“Be a pillow,” says Komonosky. “Walls are bouncy and we don’t like that.
“It’s like being a goalie in hockey. You don’t want pucks bouncing off you.”
Ben is the son of Ward and Cindy Komonosky. Ward Komonosky played goaltender for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Regina Blue Pats, Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders and Atlantic Coast Hockey League’s New York Slapshots.
Ward Komonosky won 30 games and Prince Albert took the Memorial Cup in 1985. New York was coached by Dave Schultz, who helped the “Broad Street Bullies” Philadelphia Flyers win the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975.
Besides leading drills for ISU catchers (receiving, blocking and throwing form various angles) for Sycamores head coach Mitch Hannahs, Ben Komonosky also coordinates camps. There was an instructional/showcase event in October and another is scheduled for January.
Komonosky, who turned 25 in September, says he has settled in to living in Terre Haute, Ind.
“There are a lot of friendly people,” says Komonosky, who is from Regina, Sask., where he played baseball, football, basketball and volleyball at Vauxhall High School in Alberta. He was with the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball as a senior in 2015.
He spent the fall semester at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.
“It was not the right fit and I went back home (to Canada) for a bit,” says Komonosky. “That spring I took time off. I was falling out of love with baseball.
“But then I felt I was missing something in my life and started training again.”
The backstop landed at North Iowa Area Community College, where he played for Trojans head coach Travis Hergert in 2017 and 2018.
“It was a great two years there,” says Komonosky. “I needed time to grow into the player I needed to be. I was able to get stronger and better in every part of the game.”
Though North Iowa — based in Mason City — was not as hard-nosed a some junior college programs, Komonosky understands what it means to be a “JUCO Bandit.”
“The majority of (junior colleges) are blue collar with a bunch of grinders,” says Komonosky, who notes the emphasis on development. “Half of their job is sending guys on to the next level.”
Komonosky played in 111 games for NIACC in 2017 and 2018 and hit .282 with 11 home runs and 76 runs batted in.
Jake Mahon, then an Evansville assistant coach, saw Komonosky at a North Iowa scrimmage and invited him to visit to UE campus. He went on to play in 88 games (81 starts) for the Wes Carroll-coached Purple Aces from 2019 to 2021 and graduated with a degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Sports Management.
“I knew I wanted to stay around the game when my playing days were done,” says Komonosky, who spent the summer after graduating scouting for Perfect Game in Florida.
In 2021-22, Komonosky was on the Jimmy Brenneman-led coaching staff at Frontier Community College in Fairfield, Ill. The Bobcats are a National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Division I program.
“I loved it there,” says Komonosky. “It was really good baseball. Junior college is a really good route for a lot of guys. There’s extra development.”
Komonosky specialized working with Frontier catchers while also assisting the hitters, recruiting, and strength and conditioning.
In the summer of 2022, Komonosky served as manager of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s Michigan Monarchs. The team, based in Adrian, Mich., won the North Division and advanced to the playoffs and Komonosky was selected as GLSCL Manager of the Year.
Komonosky played for the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Swift Current 57s in 2018 and the WCBL’s Regina Red Sox in 2019. He did not play in the COVID-19 summer of 2020.
He was recently named as Regina Red Sox manager for the summer of 2023. Komonosky has been an assistant coach at 2SK Performance and with the Inside Pitch Baseball Academy — both in Regina.
Ben’s family athletic roots in Indiana precede him. Grandfather Glenn Young, who went to Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Ill., played football at Purdue University and was a defensive back for the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers (1956).

Ben Komonosky. (Indiana State University Photo)

Mahar continues to learn as coach in Cincinnati Reds system

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

A former big leaguer living in southern Indiana is sharing his knowledge with young professionals.
Kevin Mahar, who played at Lincoln Trail College (Robinson, Ill.) for head coach Mitch Hannahs (now head coach at Indiana State University) and at Indiana University for head coach Bob Morgan and briefly as a center fielder with the 2007 Texas Rangers, lives in Jasper, Ind., and has been a coach in the Cincinnati Reds organization since 2013.
The 2022 season saw Mahar roving from level to level, including the big leagues, as outfield/baserunning coordinator and has been told he will be in that position in 2023.
“Baserunning is about being aggressive and smart,” says Mahar. “We look for the ball in the dirt, take an extra 90 feet.
“We put pressure on the pitcher and the defense.”
The message to outfielders is straightforward.
“Catch the ball,” says Mahar, who also teaches about getting in position, anticipation, reaction and game situations.
“A lot of the stuff we do now is detail-oriented,” says Mahar. “We have drills that focus on technique and tempo.”
Mahar has worked with players along with Reds special assistant and former Reds flycatcher Eric Davis.
“He was an exceptional outfielder and was around a lot,” says Mahar of the man who played 17 MLB seasons. “Our goal is to make sure each player in exceptional at who they are. They all have a lot of ability, but each individual is different. We want to make them the best version of themselves and reach their capabilities.
“We are not trying to create robots in the outfield. We allow them to play free out there.”
Mahar was born in Pontiac, Mich., but grew up in Midland, Mich.
“Jasper is very similar,” says Mahar. “Midland is a big, big sports town.”
Among the sports in the town near Saginaw Bay and Michigan’s “thumb” are baseball, hockey and football.
Mahar graduated from Midland High School in 1999 (he helped the Chemics to a Class A state title in 1998) then spent one year with Hannahs at Lincoln Trail and four with Morgan at Indiana (one as a redshirt). He earned second-team all-Big Ten Conference honors in 2004 before signing that year as a free agent with the Rangers.
“He was great,” says Mahar of Hannahs. “We was a baseball guy. He knew how to get the best of (his players).”
With adopted son Malik Chatman a defensive back on the Indiana State football team, Mahar still has occasional contact with Hannahs.
“(Coach Morgan) was very, very detail-oriented,” says Mahar. “I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for him holding me accountable for my actions.”
The 6-foot-5 Mahar was in the Rangers system through 2007, played for both the independent Kansas City T-Bones and in the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 2008 and was with the Phillies through 2010. He was mostly a first baseman his last two seasons.
He assisted Andy McClain at Brebeuf Jesuit School in Indianapolis in 2011 and Jay Lehr at Carmel (Ind.) High School in 2012. McClain is now head coach at Indianapolis North Central and Lehr is a lead pitching instructor with several pro clients at Pro X Athlete Development in Westfield, Ind.
Kevin and wife Atalie moved from Indianapolis to Dubois County — where she is from — about the time he joined the Reds. Atalie Mahar is employed by Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools and is a Health and Occupational Services teacher. There are three other children in the Mahar household — eighth grader Stella (13), fourth grader Nash (10) and Cecilia (1).
Mahar, who recently got home from instructional league at Arizona, will be spending time with family while also teaching lessons a few days a week and planning for the 2023 season prior to gearing up for spring training after the first of the year.
Mahar was hitting coach at Billings (Mont.) in 2013 and 2014 and hitting coach at Daytona Beach (Fla.) in 2015. After being away from coaching in 2016, he spent the next three seasons (2017-19) as bench coach at Dayton (Ohio) and was at the Reds summer camp then alternate site during the COVID-19 season of 2020. He was bench/gameplanning coach for Louisville (Ky.) in 2021.
With the Bats, he gathered advanced scouting reports with information on opponent’s hot and cold zones and tendencies.
Mahar has soaked up information along the way. He’s picked up things from many. Among them are Davis, Willie Harris, Juan Samuel, Billy Hatcher and Delino DeShields. These five played in more than 7,200 big league games.
“I had some great coaches coming up and I continue to keep learning,” says Mahar. “There are always new techniques and new ways to reach kids. I’ve adapted drills I saw other organizations doing while I was roving.”
Mahar also sees the way his players learn. Preferences include Visual, Aural, Read/write and Kinesthetic (VARK).
“You learn how to reach each kid,” says Mahar. “Once you understand that, it makes our lives as coaches easier.”

Kevin Mahar. (Cincinnati Reds Photo)

Valparaiso U.’s Hannahs contributes with glove, bat

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Kaleb Hannahs has a purpose when he puts on his glove and trots out to his position in the infield.
Support the man on the mound.
“I’m trying to get my pitcher to trust me,” says Hannahs, who has completed two baseball seasons at Valparaiso (Ind.) University. “It makes them so much more comfortable attacking hitters when they know you’ll take care of balls put in-play. They’ll throw more strikes for you.
“I let my hands do the work.”
A shortstop throughout his days at West Vigo High School in West Terre Haute, Ind., Hannahs played shortstop, second base and third base this summer for the Coastal Plains League’s Peninsula Pilots (Hampton, Va.) and spent all but one game at third base for the Brian Schmack-coached VU Beacons in the spring.
Hannahs was named to the all-Missouri Valley Conference defensive team in 2022.
With the bat, the righty swinger hit .275 (55-of-200) with four home runs, 15 doubles, 25 runs batted in, 36 runs scored and seven stolen bases over 48 games (all starts). His OPS was .751 (.341 on-base percentage plus .410 slugging).
He enjoyed 16 multi-hit games — including four with three RBIs in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Indiana State — where father Mitch Hannahs is the head coach. Kaleb tied for the team lead with seven multiple-RBI games.
“My dad’s always been my mentor when it comes to baseball,” says Kaleb. “He’s just always guided me along the right path. I’ve grown to completely trust what says and the knowledge he has.
“It’s extremely helpful for me to have that connection.”
Kaleb sees in his dad — who played at Indiana State and in pro baseball before launching into a coaching career — a combination of Old School and New School.
“He’s figured out stuff that will always work,” says Kaleb. “He does a good job of teaching those things.”
The younger Hannahs was born in Terre Haute and started school in Robinson, Ill., when his father was head coach at Lincoln Trail College.
Kaleb, who is now 20, was 12 and in the sixth grade when he moved to Terre Haute. From Grades 7 to 11, his summers were spent with the Indiana Reds travel ball organization.
Hannahs played for Culley DeGroote at West Vigo in 2020 — the year the COVID-19 pandemic took away the season, which would have been his fourth on varsity.
“The whole DeGroote family take care of the West Vigo baseball program,” says Hannahs. “They do it well. You learn how to play the game.
“With Culley, everything was always in-line. He kept our heads pointed in the same direction.”
Hannahs also earned four high school letters each in football and basketball and was all-Western Indiana Conference in both sports.
In 2020, Hannahs was part of the first season for the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., helping the Turf Monsters to the championship. Alex Thurston, who would be his roommate at Valparaiso U., was also on the team.
Hannahs enjoyed a super 2021 spring that included being honored as the MVC Freshman of the Year, all-MVC second team and Valpo’s 2020-21 co-Male Newcomer of the Year.
In 51 games, Hannahs hit .296 (55-of-186) with three homers, six doubles, 22 RBIs, 22 runs and four stolen bases. His OPS was .776 (.389/.387).
He was in 41 games with the 2021 Prospect League’s Terre Haute Rex and hit .293 (46-of-157) with two homers.
Hannahs explains his offensive approach.
“What I try to do is keep my mind as empty as possible,” says Hannahs. “It’s a one-on-one battle against the pitcher.
“My dad presented that to me. It’s best for me to keep it competitive.”
Hannahs was usually in the No. 2 spot in the batting order with Kyle Schmack (.292, 7 HR, 27 RBI) hitting behind him.
“I know I’ll get a lot more pitches to hit,” says Hannahs. “They’re not going to pitch around me to get another good hitter.”
Schmack and Hannahs were teammates at Peninsula before both returned to Indiana for the rest of the summer.
Hannahs hit .306 (26-of-85) with two homers over 24 games.
“It was a great league with great competition,” says Hannahs of the CPL. “You can tell the area is invested in that league.
“It was packed every night.”
A Civil Engineering major his first year at Valpo U., Hannahs, who turns 21 in February, has changed to Integrated Business and Engineering.
Kaleb is the youngest of Mitch and Robinson (Ill.) High School English/Social Studies teacher Amy Hannahs’ three children. Former second baseman Derek Hannahs (30) played at Ohio State and Indiana State (even before his father coached there). He now lives in Indianapolis and sells insurance. Kylee Hannahs (25) resides in Greenwood, Ind., and is a social worker.

Kaleb Hannahs (Valparaiso University Photo)

Kaleb Hannahs (Valparaiso University Photo)

Kaleb Hannahs (Peninsula Pilots Photo)

Kaleb Hannahs (Peninsula Pilots Photo)

Schaffer back with Terre Haute Rex while pondering his diamond future

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Jordan Schaffer has come to the end of his eligibility after a memorable collegiate baseball career.
Now he’s continuing in amateur ball while wondering if he might get to play for pay.
Schaeffer, a 2016 graduate of West Vigo High School in West Terre Haute, Ind., spent six years at nearby Indiana State University. He redshirted in 2017 then was in 147 games (115 starts) for the Sycamores from 2018-22.
The righty-swinging infielder hit .338 (168-of-497) with 11 home runs, four triples, 11 doubles, 69 runs batted in, 118 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. His on-base percentage was .414. He was named first-team all-Missouri Valley Conference in 2021 and 2022.
Mitch Hannahs is Indiana State’s head coach.
“He’s an unbelievable motivator,” says Schaffer of Hannahs. “His knowledge of the game is second to none. He knows how to get the most out of his players.
“He saw something in me. A lot of hard work later, he got more out of me than I expected. You want to get better not only for him but yourself.”
In 2022, Schaffer fielded at a .945 clip and was in on 16 double plays. Liking the way it feels, he wears a standard 11 1/2-inch glove when at shortstop, second base and third base.
“I move around,” says Schaffer. “That comes from Coach (Brian) Smiley. No player in his infield group plays one position. That makes you more versatile when you got to other teams, especially summer ball teams. It gives you more chances to play.”
This is Schaffer’s fifth go-around with a summer wood bat league and second with the Prospect League’s Terre Haute Rex. Tyler Wampler managed Terre Haute to a league championship in 2018.
Schaffer played for the Ohio Valley League’s Henderson (Ky.) Flash in 2017, the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s Michigan Monarchs in 2019, trained the summer of 2020 and was with the Northwoods League’s Wisconsin Woodchucks (now the Wausau Woodchucks) in 2021.
After winding up his long stint at ISU, Schaffer signed a 10-day contract in the MLB Draft League with the Williamsport (Pa.) Crosscutters and has played nine games for the Rex, hitting .412 with one homer and six RBIs.
“I’m continuing to play,” says Schaffer, 24. “I may or may not get a chance to play professionally.”
The 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is July 17-19. Schaffer, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, could be taken in the 20-round selection process, sign with an MLB organization as an undrafted free agent or seek independent ball opportunity.
He notes that the MLB Draft League turns into indy ball post-draft and he could go back there.
Schaffer graduated from Indiana State in the spring with double bachelor degrees in Accounting and Sport Management.
Born in Terre Haute and growing West Terre Haute, Schaffer was in West Terre Haute Little League then a year of Babe Ruth ball.
“I was not able to get on any travel organizations,” says Schaffer.
Since age 5, he attended camps conducted by varsity coach Steve DeGroote, worked out with the high schoolers during his middle school years and was a freshman the last season DeGroote served as head coach.
“I got the privilege from a young age to know fundamentals he instilled in players,” says Schaffer, who earned four baseball letters and helped West Vigo to two sectional and one regional title. “There were some big-time motivational speeches. I’m thankful I got to play one year under him.”
He also played and practiced during the summer with teams organized by DeGroote, who was inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017.
Culley DeGroote — Steve’s son — took over the West Vigo program and Schaffer played for him his last three prep years.
“Culley did a great job of taking it over,” says Schaffer. “He was assistant to Steve. He kept the same fundamentals.
“It’s the same program and West Vigo is not somebody you want to run into in postseason play.”
Schaffer played for Terre Haute Wayne Newton American Legion Post 346 in the summer of 2016.
Jordan is the oldest of Brad and Amy Schaffer’s two children. Macy is a nursing student at Ivy Tech Community College. Brad Schaffer is a bidder for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 725. Amy Schaffer is a lawyer’s assistant at McGlone Law in Terre Haute.

Jordan Schaffer (Indiana State University Photo)
Jordan Schaffer (Indiana State University Photo)

Jordan Schaffer (Indiana State University Photo)

Jordan Schaffer (1) (Indiana State University Photo)

Ball State to host MAC tournament; Notre Dame at ACC; Evansville, Indiana State, Valparaiso at MVC; Purdue, Indiana at Big Ten; Purdue Fort Wayne at Horizon

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

With a four-game sweep at Miami (Ohio) during the week of May 16-22, Ball State earned the right to host the four-team Mid-American Conference baseball tournament May 25-28 in Muncie.
The Cardinals are one of eight teams from Indiana going into NCAA Division I conference tournaments this week.
Ball State (38-17), the MAC regular-season champions for the first time since 2014, is the top seed, followed by Central Michigan No. 2, Toledo No. 3 and Ohio No. 4.
BSU is 7-3 in its last 10 games. The Rich Maloney-coached Cardinals are 18-4 at Ball Diamond at First Merchants Ballpark Complex.
Twelve teams will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament May 24-29 in Charlotte, N.C. Pool play is May 24-27. No. 4 seed Notre Dame (33-13) is in Pool D with No. 5 seed Virginia and No. 9 seed Florida State.
Link Jarrett is the Notre Dame head coach. The Irish are 7-3 in their last 10.
The eight-team Big Ten Conference tournament is slated for May 25-29 in Omaha, Neb.
Maryland is the No. 1 seed, Rutgers No. 2, Iowa No. 3, Illinois No. 4, Michigan No. 5, Penn State No. 6, Greg Goff-coached Purdue (29-19) No. 7 and Jeff Mercer-coached Indiana (25-30) No. 8.
The Boilermakers are 4-6 in their last 10, the Hoosiers 5-5.
The eight-team Missouri Valley Conference tournament is scheduled for May 24-28 in Springfield, Mo. Southern Illinois is the No. 1 seed, followed by Wes Carroll-coached Evansville (30-22) No. 2, Dallas Baptist No. 3, Bradley No. 4, Mitch Hannah-coached Indiana State (25-20-1) No. 5, Missouri State No. 6, Illinois State No. 7 and Brian Schmack-coached Valparaiso (16-31) No. 8.
The Purple Aces are 6-4 in their last 10, the Sycamores 3-6-1 and Beacons 3-7.
The six-team Horizon League tournament May 25-28 in Dayton, Ohio. Wright State is the No. 1 seed. Oakland is No. 2, Illinois-Chicago No. 3, Doug Schreiber-coached Purdue Fort Wayne (18-35) No. 4, Youngstown State No. 5 and Northern Kentucky No. 6.
The Mastodons are 5-5 in their last 10.
Notre Dame is No. 17 in the D1Baseball.com RPI. Ball State is No. 70, Evansville No. 86, Indiana State No. 99, Indiana No. 115, Purdue No. 124, Valparaiso No. 210, Butler No. 238 and Purdue Fort Wayne No. 258.
Automatic bids go to the winners of the MAC, ACC, Big Ten, MVC and Horizon tournaments and more. There are 31 automatic bids and 33 at-large picks that will be made by NCAA Division I Baseball Committee. The tournament bracket for the 64-team event will be revealed at noon Eastern Time May 30 on ESPN2.
Butler (20-35-1) did not qualify for the four-team Big East Conference tournament, which is May 26-29 in Mason, Ohio.
Bulldogs head coach Dave Schrage concluded his 38-year career with a 6-4 victory Saturday against Seton Hall. He recently announced his retirement.
Taylor (41-18) and Indiana University Southeast (40-15) both went 1-2 and bowed out at separate NAIA Opening Round sites — the Kyle Gould-coached Trojans in the Upland Bracket and the Ben Reel-coached Grenadiers in the Santa Barbara Bracket.
Earlham (26-13) lost twice at NCAA Division III regional at Lynchburg, Va. The Steve Sakosits-coached Quakers qualified by winning the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Vincennes (25-32) saw its season end with two losses in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Mid-West Athletic Conference tournament in Normal, Ill. Chris Barney is the VU Trailblazers coach.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through May 22
NCAA D-I
Ball State 38-17 (32-7 MAC)
Notre Dame 33-13 (16-11 ACC)
Evansville 30-22 (14-6 MVC)
Purdue 29-19 (9-12 Big Ten)
Indiana State 25-20-1 (10-10-1 MVC)
Indiana 25-30 (10-14 Big Ten)
Butler 20-35-1 (4-16-1 Big East)
Purdue Fort Wayne 18-35 (13-15 Horizon)
Valparaiso 16-31 (5-15 MVC)

NCAA D-II
Southern Indiana 21-28 (10-14 GLVC)
Indianapolis 21-31 (11-13 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 18-21 (7-17 GLIAC)

NCAA D-III
Franklin 29-14 (13-5 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 28-13 (12-6 HCAC)
Earlham 26-13 (12-6 HCAC)
DePauw 22-17 (12-6 NCAC)
Wabash 20-19 (4-14 NCAC)
Anderson 20-21 (11-7 HCAC)
Hanover 16-22 (10-8 HCAC)
Trine 14-23 (9-12 MIAA)
Manchester 10-27 (6-12 HCAC)

NAIA
Taylor 41-18 (26-10 CL)
Indiana University Southeast 40-15 (20-4 RSC)
Indiana Tech 32-21 (13-7 WHAC)
Indiana Wesleyan 31-23 (23-13 CL)
Oakland City 31-23 (11-11 RSC)
Huntington 27-23 (21-15 CL)
Marian 27-27 (17-19 CL)
Saint Francis 27-28 (15-21 CL)
Indiana University-Kokomo 26-22 (16-7 RSC)
Bethel 25-29 (19-17 CL)
Grace 17-33 (10-26 CL)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 16-32 (11-18 CCAC)
Indiana University South Bend 16-32-1 (9-20-1 CCAC)
Goshen 11-39 (6-30 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 25-32 (15-19 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 16-19
Marian’s Ancilla 8-40 (6-22 MCCAA)

Week of May 16-22
NCAA D-I
Tuesday, May 17
Purdue Fort Wayne 4, Butler 2
Murray State 3, Evansville 2
Indiana 12, Illinois State 7
Notre Dame 14, Northwestern 4

Thursday, May 19
Ball State 7, Miami (Ohio) 4
Evansville 9, Valparaiso 2
Iowa 30, Indiana 16
Indiana State 10, Dallas Baptist 6
Miami (Fla.) 6, Notre Dame 1
Maryland 14, Purdue 7

Friday, May 20
Ball State 4, Miami (Ohio) 2
Ball State 11, Miami (Ohio) 1
Seton Hall 3, Butler 1
Valparaiso 8, Evansville 4
Iowa 12, Indiana 0
Indiana State 11, Dallas Baptist 10
Notre Dame 5, Miami (Fla.) 0
Maryland 18, Purdue 7
Purdue Fort Wayne 6, Akron 5
Akron 7, Purdue Fort Wayne 6

Saturday, May 21
Ball State 13, Miami (Ohio) 2
Butler 6, Seton Hall 4
Iowa 2, Indiana 1
Dallas Baptist 2, Indiana State 2
Miami (Fla.) 16, Notre Dame 7
Akron 11, Purdue Fort Wayne 0

NCAA D-III
Friday, May 20
NCAA Regional
At Lynchburg, Va.
Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) 8, Earlham 2
Lynchburg (Va.) 7, Salve Regina (R.I.) 3

Saturday, May 21
NCAA Regional
At Lynchburg, Va.
Salve Regina (R.I.) 7, Earlham 6
Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) 11, Lynchburg (Va.) 2

Sunday, May 22
NCAA Regional
At Lynchburg, Va.
Salve Regina (R.I.) vs. Lynchburg (Va.)
Championship
Birmingham-Southern (Ala.) 10, Salve Regina (R.I.) 2

NAIA
Monday, May 16
NAIA Opening Round
Upland Bracket
Bryan (Tenn.) 15, Columbia (Mo.) 9
Northwestern Ohio 12, Taylor 8
Southeastern (Fla.) 9, Bryan (Tenn.) 5

Santa Barbara Bracket
IU Southeast 22, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 4
Westmont (Calif.) 6, Antelope Valley (Calif.) 0

Tuesday, May 17
NAIA Opening Round
Upland Bracket
Taylor 3, Columbia (Mo.) 2
Southeastern (Fla.) 9, Northwestern Ohio 6
Bryan (Tenn.) 6, Taylor 1

Santa Barbara Bracket
Antelope Valley (Calif.) 4, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 1
Westmont (Calif.) 9, IU Southeast 3

Wednesday, May 18
NAIA Opening Round
Upland Bracket
Bryan (Tenn.) 7, Northwestern Ohio 4
Championship
Southeastern (Fla.) 9, Bryan (Tenn.) 5

Santa Barbara Bracket
Antelope Valley (Calif.) 3, IU Southeast 2
Championship
Westmont (Calif.) 12, Antelope Valley (Calif.) 0

Junior College
Wednesday, May 18
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Danville Area 6, Vincennes 3
Parkland 2, Lewis & Clark 1
Lincoln Land 10, Illinois Central 0
Illinois Central 5, Lewis & Clark 3

Thursday, May 19
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Heartland 7, Danville Area 0
Lincoln Land 5, Parkland 0
Illinois Central 7, Danville Area 6
Parkland 6, Vincennes 5

Friday, May 20
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Heartland 8, Lincoln Land 4
Illinois Central 12, Parkland 3
Lincoln Land 11, Illinois Central 1

Saturday, May 21
Mid-West Athletic Conference Tournament
Championship
Heartland 4, Lincoln Land 2

Ball State starts strong in MAC; Indiana State’s Hannahs, Huntington’s Frame reach milestones

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Ball State scored 46 runs in the first three games against Bowling Green to move to 9-10 overall and 6-1 in the Mid-American Conference.
The final contest of the set was slated for today (March 21). The Cardinals have won four straight overall.
Amid all the offense in Game 1’s 17-0 romp, Ball State left-hander Tyler Schweitzer (Hamilton Southeast High School graduate) struck out a career-best nine.
Indiana State right-hander Jack Parisi became the active career strikeout leader among NCAA D-I pitchers with four K’s in relief in Game 3 against Kansas. The Homestead High School alum and ISU graduate student has 304.
Right-hander Matt Jachec won for the Sycamores in Game 1 against Kansas. It was the 250th win as Indiana State coach for Mitch Hannahs.
ISU visits Indiana at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
By going 2-1 at Illinois State, Purdue moved to 17-1. The Boilermakers were the last of the nation’s D-I unbeatens before dropping Game 1 against the Redbirds.
Big Ten Conference play opens Friday through Sunday for Purdue when Ohio State comes to Alexander Field.
Including a four-run bottom-of-the-ninth rally and walk-off win against Oberlin, NCAA Division III Earlham (10-2) swept a three-game series from the Yeomen.
Huntington coach Mike Frame picked up his 900th career victory when the Foresters won Game 1 of an NAIA Crossroads League series against Grace March 17.
Mount Vernon Nazarene leads Crossroads League standings at 8-2. Next is Taylor (7-3) and Saint Francis (6-4). Taylor is at Saint Francis for doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through March 20
NCAA D-I
Purdue 17-1 (0-0 Big Ten)
Notre Dame 12-4 (2-3 ACC)
Indiana State 11-7 (0-0 MVC)
Ball State 11-8 (6-1 MAC)
Butler 9-10 (0-0 Big East)
Indiana 8-12 (0-0 Big Ten)
Valparaiso 7-9 (0-0 MVC)
Evansville 7-12 (0-0 MVC)
Purdue Fort Wayne 2-17 (1-2 Horizon)

NCAA D-II
Purdue Northwest 10-3 (0-0 GLIAC)
Southern Indiana 10-7 (0-0 GLVC)
Indianapolis 5-9 (0-0 GLVC)

NCAA D-III
Earlham 10-2 (0-0 HCAC)
Franklin 10-4 (0-0 HCAC)
Wabash 9-2 (0-0 NCAC)
Anderson 7-9 (0-0 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 5-3 (0-0 HCAC)
DePauw 5-5 (0-0 NCAC)
Trine 5-7 (0-0 MIAA)
Manchester 3-7 (0-0 HCAC)
Hanover 3-9 (0-0 HCAC)

NAIA
Saint Francis 17-8 (6-4 CL)
Taylor 17-9 (7-3 CL)
Oakland City 16-11 (4-5 RSC)
Indiana University-Kokomo 16-8 (6-0 RSC)
Indiana University Southeast 15-8 (6-0 RSC)
Marian 11-13 (3-7 CL)
Indiana Tech 10-11 (0-0 WHAC)
Indiana Wesleyan 10-12 (6-4 CL)
Grace 10-13 (4-6 CL)
Bethel 9-17 (3-7 CL)
Huntington 8-10 (6-4 CL)
Indiana University South Bend 8-12 (2-2 CCAC)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 6-5 (1-3 CCAC)
Goshen 4-16 (1-9 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 8-9 (1-0 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 7-3 (0-0 NJCAA XII)
Marian’s Ancilla 2-14 (0-0 MCCAA)

Week of March 14-20
NCAA D-I
Monday, March 14
Eastern Michigan 4, Ball State 2
Ball State 11, Eastern Michigan 8
Butler 6, Western Illinois 3

Tuesday, March 15
Illinois 13, Butler 4
Indiana 20, Kentucky 7
Indiana State 10, Southeast Missouri State 1
Notre Dame 12, Valparaiso 1
Purdue 11, Dayton 2

Wednesday, March 16
Evansville 20, Austin Peay 4
Indiana State 5, Southeast Missouri State 4
Dayton 8, Purdue Fort Wayne 4

Thursday, March 17
Xavier 9, Indiana 7
Illinois State 4, Purdue 3 (11 inn.)

Friday, March 18
Louisville 16, Notre Dame 11
Youngstown State 4, Purdue Fort Wayne 0
Murray State 8, Valparaiso 2

Saturday, March 19
Ball State 17, Bowling Green 1
Eastern Michigan 15, Butler 4
Xavier 12, Indiana 10
Indiana State 6, Kansas 2
Louisville 8, Notre Dame 1
Valparaiso 7, Murray State 2
Murray State 5, Valparaiso 1

Sunday, March 20
Ball State 14, Bowling Green 9
Ball State 15, Bowling Green 5
Butler 4, Eastern Michigan 3
Eastern Michigan 7, Butler 0
Northwestern 10, Evansville 4
Northwestern 8, Evansville 1
Indiana 13, Xavier 3
Xavier 13, Indiana 7
Kansas 7, Indiana State 5
Indiana State 11, Kansas 10
Louisville 7, Notre Dame 5
Purdue 9, Illinois State 2
Purdue 7, Illinois State 6 (10 inn.)
Purdue Fort Wayne 8, Youngstown State 7
Youngstown State 12, Purdue Fort Wayne 6
Valparaiso 6, Murray State 1

NCAA D-II
Monday, March 14
Southern Indiana 3, Davenport 1
Southern Indiana 7, Davenport 1

Tuesday, March 15
Purdue Northwest 7, Indianapolis 3
Purdue Northwest 18, Indianapolis 7

Saturday, March 19
Drury 22, Southern Indiana 3
Drury 11, Southern Indiana 7

Sunday, March 20
Lewis 5, Purdue Northwest 4
Lewis 26, Purdue Northwest 1
Southern Indiana 12, Drury 9

NCAA D-III
Monday, March 14
Anderson 10, Washington (Mo.) 5

Tuesday, March 15
Illinois Wesleyan 25, Anderson 13
Ramapo 12, Anderson 11

Wednesday, March 16
Anderson 11, Ripon 6
Wittenberg 3, Earlham 2
Franklin 5, Wilmington 1
Manchester 11, Trine 10 (12 inn.)

Saturday, March 19
Earlham 13, Oberlin 12

Sunday, March 20
Earlham 15, Oberlin 6
Earlham 6, Oberlin 3
Franklin 16, DePauw 14
Franklin 11, DePauw 2
Wabash 3, Hanover 0
Wabash 14, Hanover 1
Rose-Hulman 16, Capital 5
Rose-Hulman 13, Capital 2

NAIA
Monday, March 14
Indiana Wesleyan 4, Bethel 2 (10 inn.)
Indiana Wesleyan 6, Bethel 1
Saint Francis 13, Goshen 7
Saint Francis 4, Goshen 3
Spring Arbor 19, Grace 11
Grace 8, Spring Arbor 5
Huntington 20, Taylor 10
Taylor 5, Huntington 0
Mount Vernon Nazarene 14, Marian 12
Mount Vernon Nazarene 3, Marian 1 (8 inn.)

Tuesday, March 15
Indiana Tech 3, IU Southeast 1
IU Southeast 6, Indiana Tech 1
Evangel 3, Oakland City 2

Wednesday, March 16
Calumet of St. Joseph 8, Lincoln 7 (11 inn.)
Aquinas 5, IU Kokomo 0
IU Kokomo 8, Aquinas 4
Saint Xavier 5, IU South Bend 0
Saint Francis 15, Indiana Tech 10
Oakland City 10, Bible College 8

Thursday, March 17
Taylor 12, Bethel 0
Taylor 6, Bethel 5
Saint Xavier 7, Calumet of St. Joseph 5
Huntington 4, Grace 2
Huntington 7, Grace 0
Indiana Wesleyan 14, Mount Vernon Nazarene 4
Mount Vernon Nazarene 11, Indiana Wesleyan 0
Spring Arbor 6, Saint Francis 5
Spring Arbor 5, Saint Francis 4

Friday, March 18
IU South Bend 18, Trinity International 6

Saturday, March 19
Saint Xavier 10, Calumet of St. Joseph 4
Saint Xavier 10, Calumet of St. Joseph 3
IU Kokomo 1, Miami-Hamilton 0
IU Kokomo 11, Miami-Hamilton 6
IU Southeast 10, Ohio Christian 0
Rio Grande 7, Oakland City 3

Sunday, March 20
Marian 13, Goshen 11 (12 inn.)
Marian 15, Goshen 4
IU Kokomo 6, Miami-Hamilton 4
Trinity International 4, IU South Bend 3
IU South Bend 9, Trinity International 1
IU Southeast 9, Ohio Christian 0
IU Southeast 14, Ohio Christian 7
Indiana Tech vs. Michigan-Dearborn
Indiana Tech vs. Michigan-Dearborn
Rio Grande 12, Oakland City 7
Oakland City 16, Rio Grande 3

Junior College
Wednesday, March 16
Ivy Tech Northeast 6, Edison State 5 (8 inn.)
Ivy Tech Northeast 11, Edison State 4
Vincennes 16, Rose-Hulman JV 3

Sunday, March 20
Vincennes 8, Spoon River 6

Harden keeping it positive with Linton-Stockton Miners

BY STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Accountability, positivity, a spirt of competition and excellence are qualities Jacob Harden is looking to instill as the new head baseball coach at Linton-Stockton High School in Indiana’s Greene County.
“I’m big on holding (players) accountable,” says Harden, who was hired to lead the Miners program in July. “I’ll be the first one to get on their tail when they’re doing something wrong, but I’ll be the first one to build them back up. All the coaches I’ve been around cared and still held me to realistic standards.
“Positives need to outweigh the negatives.”
Harden, who is also a Project Lead The Way computer science teacher at Linton-Stockton Middle School, had players conditioning shortly after the school year began and led players in grades 7-12 during the IHSAA Limited Contact Period in the fall and since the first week of December.
“I want to be the program coach,” says Harden, 25. “I don’t want players to meet me for the first time when they’re freshmen.”
Besides the middle school program for seventh and eighth graders, the Linton Youth League (T-ball though Grade 6) feeds the high school Miners.
Recent graduates moving on to college ball are 2021 graduates Josh Pyne and Kip Fougerousse (son of former Linton-Stockton head coach Matt Fougerousse) to Indiana University.
Bracey Breneman (Class of 2022) recently signed with Vincennes (Ind.) University.
Harden did his best in the fall to simulate what spring practices will be like with position group work followed by team activity.
He set the tone from Day 1.
“I set the standard for how I expect things to go,” says Harden. “I mean business. I want us to win state championships. That means working hard.
“We’re doing something every minute of our practices and everybody is going to get better.”
Harden has players trying to beat one another in cut-off and bunt drills.
“Scoop Tennis” — which promotes quick hands and feet and proper glove work — is both fun and competitive.
“When guys compete with everything they do that’s going to transfer over to the game,” says Harden. “You want to be be a competitor and find ways to win.
“It’s a competitive atmosphere and we’re paying attention to the fine details.”
Fall World Series teams vied for the “Folger’s Cup” — an old coffee can found in a dugout. There’s also social media salutes to the “Grinder of the Week” complete with honoree pictured with a coal miner cap.
Linton-Stockton baseball embraces the hashtag #PreparingForReign.
“Everybody want to be the best they can be, but who’s going to prepare?,” says Harden, who also has his team breaking huddles with a chant of “618.” What’s significant about that number? June 18, 2022 is the date of the IHSAA State Finals at Victory Field in Indianapolis and that’s where the Miners want to be — #Destination618.
Harden wants “The Miner Way” to be personified by players who are gritty with good attitudes.
“It embodies what this town is all about,” says Harden. “These people have to work for a living. That’s how this community is.
“These guys are starting to believe they can do it.”
Linton-Stockton’s new uniforms will feature “MH” on the right shoulder to honor baseball backer Mark Hollingsworth, who died at the beginning of the school year.
While he’s not on his staff, Harden has got plenty of support from former Miners head coach Bart Berns.
Linton-Stockton (enrollment around 390) is a member of the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eastern Greene, North Central of Farmersburg, North Daviess, Shakamak and White River Valley).
In 2021, the Miners were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Eastern Greene, Mitchell, North Knox, Paoli and South Knox and beat North Knox 10-0 in the championship game. Linton-Stockton has won 10 sectional titles.
Harden’s assistants are Mike Walters, Craig House and Brian Reel. Walters was a Harden teammate at Northview High School in Brazil, Ind. House is a longtime Linton-Stockton coach who is employed as a coal miner. Reel is the father of Indiana University Southeast head baseball coach Ben Reel.
Harden graduated from Northview in 2015. Besides playing Knights head coaches Scott McDonald (2012 and 2013) and Craig Trout (2014 and 2015), he was in the Clay Youth League and was in travel ball as a middle schooler with the Indiana Redbirds and American Legion Baseball for Clinton Post 140 the summer before his senior year and Clay County Post 2 the summer after graduation.
He played for Ben Reel at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany in the spring of 2016 and went back that fall.
“I had a lot going on,” says Harden. “My grandpa passed away late that fall and one thing led to another.
“I was led to step away and come back closer to home.”
Harden, who is the son of Brazil’s Mark and Jaime Harden and older brother of sister Kennady Harden (now 19 and an Indiana State freshman) transferred to Vincennes U.
“Coach (Chris) Barney took a chance on me,” says Harden, who went in as a walk-on in the fall of 2017 and left in the spring of 2018 as a scholarship player.
He became a 4-2-4 player (four-year school, two-year school and four-year school) when he went to Indiana State University in Terre Haute, where Sycamores head coach Mitch Hannahs convinced him it was not worth the risk since Harden had open heart surgery at 16 in 2013 and he was a student manager the rest of the first semester for an ISU team that went on to win a Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship in 2019.
Trout invited Harden to be an assistant at Northview and he helped at the varsity and junior varsity levels in 2019 and leading up to the COVID-19-canceled 2020 season.
“I’d always known I wanted to coach,” says Harden. “That was the first time I got to put my imprint on something.”
In 2021, Harden was an assistant to longtime Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology coach Jeff Jenkins in what turned out to be Jenkins’ final season at the Terre Haute school.
Harden assisted manager A.J. Reed of the summer collegiate Prospect League’s Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex in the summer and was on a bus heading to Champion City (Springfield, Ohio) when he got the call from Linton-Stockton asking him to join the Miners.
We got to grow real close together,” says Harden of Reed. “He was fighting very hard for me. I got great references and guys on the team pulling for me. It felt so good.
“I’ve met a lot of people along the way. I can’t think of too many 25-year-olds has the network I do. I’ve got to learn some much. It’s been a chaotic journey. But you have to have some chaos to get that goal accomplished.”
The holder of an associate degree in General Studies from Vincennes and degree in Sports Management from Indiana State, Harden is working toward certification through the Indiana Teachers of Tomorrow program. This semester, his PLTW class is creating apps. Next semester, it will be computer science for innovators and makers.
“It gives kids a moment to shine,” says Harden of the STEM students. “It makes them feel good.”

Jacob Harden (Terre Haute Rex/Brian Williams Photo)
Jacob Harden instructs Linton-Stockton baseball players.
Linton-Stockton Miners with the “Folger’s Cup” at the Fall World Series.
Linton-Stockton Miners aiming at “Destination618 — the IHSAA State Finals on June 18, 2022.

Hancock finally dons Indiana State University uniform — as a coach

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

A decade ago, Justin Hancock was planning to play baseball at Indiana State University.
When the 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher was selected in the ninth round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres out of Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., Hancock decided instead to go pro rather than transfer to ISU after his two years of junior college, playing first for Statesman head coach Mitch Hannahs and then Kevin Bowers.
Pitching for pay took fireballing Hancock through parts of seven seasons in the Padres system — some of 2012 and 2013 was spent with the Fort Wayne (Ind.) TinCaps — and three in the Chicago Cubs organization, including 10 games at the big league level in 2018. He went 0-0 with a 1.46 earned run average in 12 1/3 innings — all out of the bullpen.
Hancock was a starter until shoulder surgery in 2016 and then became a reliever.
Non-tendered in November 2018, Hancock signed on with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League for 2019 before retiring as a player.
“It was a good experience,” says Hancock. “My wife and daughter came (to Japan). Baseball over there is how baseball was in the ’80s and ‘90s here. There’s not too much power. They hit the ball in the gap and it’s fast-paced.
“It’s tough to strike out guys in Japan.”
Overall, Hancock saw action in 193 games during his professional career, including 96 starts on the mound. He finished with a 29-37 record, 450 strikeouts and a 4.07 ERA over 579 innings.
Hancock was reunited with Hannahs (who returned to his alma mater as ISU head coach in 2013) when he was hired in July 2021 as Indiana State’s pitching coach. The man who recruited Hancock — Brian Smiley — is associate head coach for the Sycamores.
“Mitch is just a very good influencer of the players,” says Hancock, 31. “He does a good job of getting the most out of the talent that comes here.
“He gets the guys to work hard and become better men. He’s just a really good person.”
While Hannahs, Hancock and Smiley share in rounding up players, much of it is coordinated by Smiley.
“Smiley does an awesome job,” says Hancock. “He’s a very good recruiter.”
While a few players have stayed on-campus, most have gone home and will not be back in Terre Haute until the second week of January. That’s when the Sycamores will really begin ramping up for the 2022 season opener Feb. 18 against Brigham Young in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Hancock helps his pitchers develop a daily routine and understand their place on the team.
“It comes down to knowing your role and doing that role very, very well,” says Hancock. “And it starts right now. We send these guys home for a winter break. You call them throughout the time they’re gone, but you don’t know what they did while they’re gone.
“You can see the guys who have bought in and those who haven’t (when they get back to campus). This time is very crucial.”
Being a first-time coach and new to the program, Hancock took the fall to evaluate his staff.
“I had not seen any of them throw live,” says Hancock. “I saw how they pitch and what some of their stuff does.
“At the D-I level, most of these guys have the stuff. We need to refine it.”
That means developing a secondary pitch that the pitcher can put int he strike zone.
“We want them to be able to throw a fastball down and away and to trust their stuff,” says Hancock. “You believe you can get ahead (in the count) with the stuff and get hitters out.
“With one or two good pitches, you can be a really good college pitcher.”
There are 22 pitchers on the roster now. He says that number will likely be 13 or 14 in the spring.
Hancock left Lincoln Trail with a fastball between 92 and 95 mph and increased his velocity over time with added strength.
“I was more of a late bloomer,” says Hancock. “I refined my craft and worked at it. It was about knowing my body and what it could do.”
A 2009 graduate of Defiance (Ohio) High School, Hancock learned about pitching fast from Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer and three-time state championship coach Tom Held.
“I touched 90 (mph in high school),” says Hancock. “Coach Held does an awesome job. Defiance has that reputation of always having ’90’ arms.
(Bulldogs pitchers) want to be that next ’90’ arm and prove people wrong just like I did.
Besides Hancock, graduates of the “Definance Way” to pitch in the majors include Jon Niese and Chad Billingsley.
Justin is married to a Terre Haute Vigo High School graduate (and former Lincoln Trail College and Marshall University basketball player) Tessa (Johnson) Hancock. The couple have a daughter — Ivy (who turns 3 in January). Tessa’s father — Howie Johnson — played basketball at ISU with Larry Bird and was also a softball teammate of the Hall of Famer.

Justin Hancock records first big league strikeout.
Justin Hancock 96.4 MPH slow motion mound mechanics.
Justin Hancock pitches for the Chicago Cubs in 2018 (Chicago Cubs Photo)
Justin Hancock (Chicago Cubs Photo)

Conner teaching lessons about baseball, life at Concordia University Chicago

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Kolin Conner is doing his best to get Concordia University Chicago back to the lofty heights the Cougars baseball program had become accustomed.
From 2008-19, CUC posted an average record of 35-11 including 40-15 in 2018 and 42-10 in 2019. Conner was the Cougars head assistant (2016-19) — years in which the school won four Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference regular-season titles and made NCAA Division III World Series appearances in 2017 and 2018. During the span, CUC was ranked No. 1 in the nation and Conner was named 2018 American Baseball Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year.
A graduate of Indianapolis North Central High School (2009) and Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. (2013), Conner took over as head coach at the private school in River Forest, Ill., in the summer of 2019. The Cougars went 5-5 during the COVID-19 pandemic-shortened 2020 season and 11-25 in 2021.
NCAA D-III rules allow for 19 total weeks of organized baseball activity — four in the fall and 15 in the spring. Concordia practiced four times a week during the fall.
“We did a lot of teaching. developing and evaluating where our guys are on the depth chart,” says Conner. “After last year, there was a little bit of re-establishing priorities for us.
“The work we put in now leads to success in the spring. It’s about holding everybody accountable. The overall success is much bigger than one individual.”
Conner says the most-important time comes when players are away from coaches in between fall and spring and must motivate themselves and stay on top of their academics.
“Here’s a 17-year-old freshman,” says Conner. “How’s he going to be when no one’s watching? That’s when good leaders and good people are made.”
Conner and his coaching staff of head assistant/pitching coach Matt Smith, assistant Abe Paz Agudello, assistant Connor Nelson and graduate assistant Kevin Garcia are getting players to create lifelong habits that will transfer into their lives beyond college.
“They get into the world world and (employers and co-workers) can trust these guys,” says Conner, who is currently busy recruiting, doing office work and getting ready for the return of players to practice after the Christmas break.
CUC baseball earned an ABCA all-academic team certificate, sported seven players with a 4.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale last spring while posting a 3.2 team GPA — the best among the school’s nine male sports. The Cougars typically have 10 to 12 academic all-conference selections.
The roster — currently at 36 — has 22 from the Chicagoland area plus Indiana’s Ben Collins (Chesterton), Elijah Hickman (Rensselaer Central), Brody Mariotti (Yorktown) and Westin Stutzman (Fairfield), six from Arizona (CUC recruits there each fall), two from California and one each from Colorado and Utah.
“We get a lot of good and smart kids that don’t have schools to go to,” says Conner. “(Chicago recruits) are used to cold weather and facilities and proud of the city they’re from.”
Conners says most players get some sort of aid — packages largely being dependent on grades and test scores — that takes away around half of the annual $42,000 tuition.
“It’s important that we’re getting the good character kid who wants to work and wants to win,” says Conner. “Those type of kids are usually pretty good academically.
“It’s no coincidence that are best players are usually are best students.”
A typical recruiting class is 10 players and Conner says he likes to have five or six signees around Christmas.
Conner played for Phil McIntyre at North Central, making varsity as a sophomore and representing the Panthers either as a catcher or outfielder and making long-time friendships.
He credits assistant/teacher Andy Noble for helping him in the classroom.
“He helped me find my way and who I was as a kid,” says Conner of Noble.
Conner was a catcher and first baseman in college. He played two seasons at National Community College Athletic Association member Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., for Statesmen head coaches Mitch Hannahs (2010) and Kevin Bowers (2011).
Hannahs, who is now head coach at Indiana State University. was “very, very good at getting you conditioned mentally and getting the most out of people as players.”
Current LTC head coach Bowers brought Conner into the program.
“He really, really cares about the kids,” says Conner of Bowers. “He’s got a strong relationship with everybody he recruits.”
At Saint Joseph’s, Conner earned an Educational Studies degree with a Communications minor and played two seasons (2012 and 2013) for Pumas head coach Rick O’Dette.
“He’s the greatest guy ever,” says Conner of O’Dette, who became head coach at Saint Leo University in Florida when SJC closed its doors after the 2017 season. “He’s the reason I have a job in college baseball.
“He’s an unbelievable guy, a great mentor and cares about people.”
Conner played two summers of independent professional baseball after college with the 2013 Mike Braymen-managed Joliet (Ill.) Slammers and 2014 Andy McCauley-managed Evansville (Ind.) Otters — both in the Frontier League.
Kolin met future wife Lyndsey at Lincoln Trail. The Conners now have two children — son Leo (3) and daughter Layla (4 months).

Kolin Conner (Concordia University Chicago Photo)