BY STEVE KRAH
Grant Lashure is now a junior catcher on the Eastern Illinois University baseball team bound for the June 2-5 NCAA Division I Nashville Regional.
Lashure (pronounced Lasher) has played in 45 games for the 2023 EIU Panthers (41 starts) and the righty swinger is hitting .312 (49-of-157) with 11 doubles, 34 runs batted in and 23 runs scored. He is fielding at a .997 clip with 275 putouts and 25 assists.
In his first season on the Charleston, Ill., campus (2022), Lashure appeared in 35 games (31 starts) and hit .286 (32-of-112) with three home runs, one triples, two doubles, 14 RBIs and 17 runs. His fielding mark was .996 with 251 putouts and 19 assists.
While at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers High School, Lashure did not receive many offers to play college baseball.
He committed to North Carolina Central University only to have that program suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lashure opted to stay at home and play for Ivy Tech Northeast Community College in Fort Wayne.
He was familiar with Titans head coach Lance Hershberger and assistant Connor Wilkins. He played travel ball for them with the Northeast Indiana Buzz, Summit City Sluggers and Kekiongas.
Lashure was not big as a youngster and has since filled out his 5-foot-10 frame at 180 pounds. He appreciates the fundamentals and “small ball” he learned from Hershberger.
“He taught the game extremely well,” says Lashure of Hershberger. “He allowed me to become the player I am today.
“He allowed me to focus on the little things. With Coach Hershberger, I started to know the game and get a lot better. I became a more well-rounded player.”
Lashure credits Wilkins for helping to hone his catching skills — things like, mobility, set-up, receiving, throwing and blocking.
Born in Mooresville, N.C., Lashure moved to Fort Wayne as he was entering fourth grade. He was with the James Ball-coached Fort Wayne Cubs (now the Fort Wayne Diamondbacks) for his 10U to 12U travel seasons then was part of the 13U Strike Zone Spiders.
He played a little second base as a Luers freshman, but Lashure was mostly a catcher as a four-year Knights varsity player. His head coaches were Gary Rogers the first two years and Jeff Stanski the last two.
Grant says he is grateful to Rogers for giving him an opportunity to play with older brother Luke Lashure (Luers Class of 2016).
The summer after graduation (2019), Grant played in the local men’s league with the Fort Wayne Blues.
When he got to Ivy Tech, he got to play 30 games in the fall and just 11 in the spring because of the shortened 2020 season. But he continued learning and improving while working with Wilkins.
“When you’re getting a lot of reps you’re going to get better,” says Lashure.
In 2021, he played in 55 games (53 starts) and hit a team-best .421 (67-of-159) with two homers, one triple, 11 doubles, 52 RBIs and 46 runs. A .993 fielder, he collected 248 putouts and 37 assists.
Lashure was with the Appalachian League’s Greeneville (Tenn.) Flyboys for 14 games in the summer of 2021.
This summer, Lashure is to be with the MLB Draft League’s State College (Pa.) Spikes.
But before that comes the postseason at Eastern Illinois.
The Jason Anderson-coached Panthers followed up a 33-20 mark in 2022 by losing players who decided not to take their extra year of eligibility or enter the Transfer Portal.
Among those was Jesse Wainscott (a right-hander and graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis who landed at Arizona State University).
“We were left scrambling,” says Lashure. “We had a lot of arms to replace.”
Even so, the team got off to a 12-4 start in 2023. But a 5-9 stretch came next.
“We worried about making the (Ohio Valley Conference) tournament at a certain point in our season,” says Lashure. “We had to play as a team. Not just one individual was going to carry us.
“We all competed.”
The team ended the regular season on a seven-game win streak, including a three-game sweep at Southeast Missouri and went into the OVC tournament in Marion, Ill., as the No. 5 seed.
Playing six games in four days, EIU went 5-1, beating No. 1 seed Morehead State for the NCAA tournament bid.
“We took the longest route to the championship,” says Lashure.
The Nashville Regional is hosted by No. 1 seed Vanderbilt (No. 6 of 16 national seeds) and also includes No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Xavier and No. 4 Eastern Illinois (38-19).
Lashure, who turns 23 on June 18, earned a General Studies associate degree at Ivy Tech and is an Exercise Science major at Eastern Illinois.
Mike and Monica Lashure have six children — Luke, Grant, Leah, Nick, Anthony and Veronica.
Mike Lashure is Director of New Market Development for Schafer Industries. Monica Lashure is a stay-at-home mom.
Luke Lashure played one baseball season at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne.
Leah Lashure played tennis at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger High School and is now a art/substitute teacher at Our Lady of Good Hope School in Fort Wayne.
Nick Lashure (Dwenger Class of 2024) is a prep baseball and football athlete.
Anthony Lashure finished eighth grade. He plays baseball and basketball.
Veronica Lashure, 6, is just getting started in school.