Tag Archives: Moon Shots

Bradley’s Husmann makes habit of bashing baseballs

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

Carson Husmann was known to put baseballs in orbit while playing for the Satellites of South Central Junior/Senior High School in Union Mills, Ind.
The right-handed hitter belted 31 home runs during his prep career, including 14 as a senior in 2019.
Husmann was back at it in 2022 at NCAA Division I Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.
In 49 games (all starts), the corner outfielder hit .277 (52-of-188) with 13 homers, nine doubles, 45 runs batted in, 38 runs scored and .908 OPS (.365 on-base percentage plus .543 slugging average).
Batting in the No. 4 hole in the Braves lineup, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Husmann went to the dish with an idea.
“Hunt the fastball in the (strike) zone and don’t miss it,” says Husmann. “I can do damage with other pitches as well, but I really don’t want to miss the fastball in any count.”
While playing for the Josh Foreman-managed Moon Shots in the 2022 College Summer League at Grand Park, Husmann batted .352 with two homers, eight doubles and 15 RBIs. He also socked a homer in the CSL All-Star Game and made the All-CSL team as an outfielder.
His offensive aim was to improve his small-ball two-strike approach.
“I was working on keeping the ball in the zone,” says Husmann. “Cutting down on the strikeouts is the biggest goal I had this summer.”
He fanned 67 times and walked 20 in the spring.
Husmann did not enjoy much success at the plate his first two seasons at Bradley (2020 and 2021).
In 28 games, he hit .189 (14-of-74) with three homers, two doubles, 14 RBIs and 14 runs.
“Freshman year was a blur with COVID,” says Husmann. “The following year I had an injury that no one really knew about that messed with me mentally.
“Baseball is a mental game for sure.”
Batting in the 5-hole and doing well, Husmann fouled a ball off his left ankle.
“It went down hill from there,” says Husmann. “It was something I was always thinking about.”
There was a persistent cramping feeling.
With air travel restrictions, Bradley had to hit the road.
“We went on 14-hour bus trips back-to-back-to-back and I formed a blood clot,” says Husmann. “I was taking baby aspirin.”
Husmann signed to play with the Duluth (Minn.) Huskies for the 2022 Northwoods League summer season.
But injury caused him to stay closer to home and he was with the Grand Park league champion Bag Bandits (managed by Caleb Fenimore).
That’s where Husmann began to get back on track.
“I got my head right and just went from there,” says Husmann.
At Bradley, he played for head coach Elvis Dominguez and works with hitting coach Kyle Trewyn.
“When I think of Coach D I think of how he’s created a family environment,” says Husmann of Dominguez. “(Trewyn) gets you in a good place to hit. As you get older you can do those things on your own. He always stuck with me. He’s helped me become a better hitter overall.”
Born in Valparaiso, Ind., Husmann grew up in Hanna, Ind.
He played his earliest organized baseball in Hanna then was in travel ball with the Chesterton Vipers, Michigan Blue Jays and Chicago-based Midwest Rangers and subbed with other squads.
“It was with the Blue Jays that I first got individual coaching and started to develop,” says Husmann.
As a four-year varsity player at South Central, he hit over .400 each season and drove in 112 runs in 100 games. He was a Class 1A first-team all-stater.
He was a classmate and teammate of Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Stars MVP Kyle Schmack (now at Valparaiso University).
Ryan Kruszka, who pitched at Butler University was the Satellites head baseball coach. Former Valparaiso U. hurler Jared Miller was pitching coach.
“They had that college experience and were able to make us a better team because of it,” says Husmann. “Our conditioning was college style. It helped me know what to expect (in college).”
The first summer after high school was Husmann’s last with the Midwest Rangers.
In 2020, he was going to play in the Northwoods League with the Lacrosse (Wis.) Loggers. When that team played a modified season because the pandemic, Husmann was able to get in his reps with the Long Boarders of the San Diego League.
He learned about the SDL from Bradley teammate and San Diego native Connor O’Brien.
Husmann, 21, will head back to college with two years of remaining eligibility.
He is 10 hours shy of earning his Business Management and Leadership degree. He expects to be a graduate student in the spring while he works toward a Master of Business Administration.
“If the (Major League Baseball First-Year Player) Draft isn’t an option, I’ll use that fifth year for sure,” says Husmann, a regular on the Bradley Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. “I thought of getting a minor or a second major. But an MBA is a way to separate you from others.”
Carson is the second of Lance and Kim Husmann’s three sons. Cooper (24) played basketball and baseball at South Central and graduated in 2016. Cade (20) was in the South Central Class of 2020.
Former longtime union painter Lance Husmann works at Hard Rock Casino in Gary, Ind. Kim Husmann has worked as a teacher’s assistant.

Carson Husmann (Bradley University Photo)
Carson Husmann (Josh Schwam/Bradley University Photo)

Carson Husmann (Josh Schwam/Bradley University Photo)

Carson Husmann (Josh Schwam/Bradley University Photo)

Carson Husmann (Josh Schwam/Bradley University Photo)

Carson Husmann (Josh Schwam/Bradley University Photo)

Carson Husmann (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)

Carson Husmann (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)

IU Southeast’s Reynolds really likes life on the pitcher’s mound

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

Cade Reynolds played all over the field as he came up through the baseball ranks in Greensburg, Ind.
He lined up everywhere but at first base and catcher.
Then while he was a high schooler playing travel ball in the summer for Evoshield Canes Midwest, Reynolds become a pitcher-only and that’s what the right-hander has been ever since.
“I love P.O. life,” says Reynolds, who has completed two seasons at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. “It’s awesome. I just feel more comfortable on the mound.
“I can focus on what I need to focus on. Starter or reliever, it doesn’t matter. It’s whatever the coach needs.”
Reynolds, who turns 21 in September, made 16 mound appearances (11 in relief) for the IUS Grenadiers in 2022 and post a 2-1 record and a 4.66 earned run average. He struck out 26 and walked 14 in 29 innings.
As a freshman in 2021, the righty got into 17 games (15 starts) and was 5-2 with 3.86 ERA, 49 strikeouts and 24 walks in 65 1/3 innings. He started his team’s first game in the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking in the first inning,” says Reynolds, who fanned three batters before leaving in the third inning.
One of his teammates in 2021 was cousin Trevor Reynolds, who graduated from Greensburg Community High School in 2017 — three years ahead of Cade.
“We are two different styles of pitchers,” says Cade Reynolds. “He’s crafty. I’m more of a velo guy — at least at the NAIA level.”
The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder throws a four-seam fastball, sinker, change-up and curveball from a three-quarter arm slot.
Reynolds’ four-seamer got up to 92 mph his freshman year.
His sinker grip has his fingers together and is between and four-seam and two-seam grip.
The change-up is delivered with the middle finger on the left horseshoe of the ball, the ring finger on the right horseshoe and the index finger resting on the left side.
The curve is closer to a 12-to-6 than a slurve.
Ben Reel is head coach at IUS. Brandon Mattingly was the Grenadiers pitching coach in 2022.
“(Reel) is a good coach and down-to-earth,” says Reynolds. “He tells you what he thinks.
“(Mattingly) was a good guy to talk to about pitching. He was there for you all the time.”
IU Southeast, a member of the River States Conference, went 50-16 in 2021 and 40-15 in 2022. Though Reynolds and classmate Gavin Knust made an impact on the mound, there were plenty of veteran position players on those teams.
Clay Woeste, Daunte DeCello and Marco Romero were all leaders,” says Reynolds, who has two years of eligibility remaining. “It will be a lot different this coming spring. As a junior, I will have to step up.”
Born and raised in Greensburg, Reynolds went was 8 when he played for the 9U Indiana Blazers travel team. He went to the Indiana Nitro at 12U and was the with Indiana Outlaws/Evoshield Canes Midwest from 13U to 17U.
Cade credits his dedication and his father — Christopher Reynolds — for his development.
“My dad is the one that’s got to me where I am,” says Reynolds. “He’s Worked with me day in and day out since I was about 10 years old.”
The elder Reynolds played baseball for a season each at Marian University in Indianapolis and Wabash (Ind.) College as a left-handed pitcher.
Scott Holdsworth was Cade’s head coach at Greensburg Community.
“He was a good hitting coach for sure and another guy you could go to for anything,” says Reynolds, who also played tennis for the Pirates.
His senior baseball season at Greensburg was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He did pitch in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., in 2020 with the Marksmen.
Reynolds did not play in the summer of 2021, but was back in the CSL in 2022 and helped the Caleb Fenimore-managed Bag Bandits make it to the championship game (which is scheduled for 7 p.m. today — July 28 vs. the Moon Shots — though Reynolds says be will not be there with work responsibilities.
A General Studies major, Reynolds plans to become an electrician’s apprentice after graduation. A family friend is a longtime electrician.
“I’d rather not work a desk job,” says Reynolds. “A blue collar job working with my hands is the best idea for me.”
Christopher Reynolds is a production manager with PrimeLending and his wife Angie Reynolds a human resources communication manager at First Financial Bank. Besides Cade, the couple has a daughter — Sydney Reynolds (25). She is in nursing school and works at Decatur Memorial Hospital.

Cade Reynolds (Indiana University Southeast Photo)
Cade Reynolds (Indiana University Southeast Photo)

Cade Reynolds (Indiana University Southeast Photo)

Cade Reynolds (Indiana University Southeast Photo)

Hamilton Southeastern, Eastern Kentucky grad Poiry considering future on, off diamond

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

Armed with experience and his undergraduate degree, Rutger Poiry is looking for his next collegiate baseball experience.
“I’m looking at all options, all opportunities and just seeing what’s out there and what’s coming my way,” says Poiry, a catcher who is looking to be a graduate transfer after earning a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice from Eastern Kentucky University and appearing in one game with the NCAA Division I EKU Colonels in 2022 (he redshirted in 2021 after appearing in 36 games over two seasons at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill.).
Poiry, a 5-foot-10, 194-pounder, is weighing his options while playing for the third straight year in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. He was with the Moon Shots in 2020 and 2021 and is with the Local Legends in 2022.
Grand Park is about 18 miles from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, where he graduated in 2018.
Two of his classmates were right-hander Sam Bachman (now pitching in the Los Angeles Angels system) and lefty Carter Lohman (who pitched the past four seasons at the University of Lousville).
Scott Henson — then the HSE Royals head coach — also used Poiry on the mound.
“He pushed us work hard in whatever we’re doing,” says Poiry of Henson.
Carter Poiry — Rutger’s brother — graduated from Hamilton Southeastern in 2016 and was also at Lincoln Trail. He pitched for Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Ct., as a graduate student in the spring of 2022.
Priory considers work ethic and a team-first mentality to be his top attributes as an athlete.
“It’s just being a great teammate,” says Poiry. “You know, helping any team I’m involved with in any way I can.”
To make himself better in the batter’s box, Poiry has been working for the past two-plus years with Benny Craig of Feel Good Hitting in Carmel, Ind.
“He’s helped me change my mental game,” says Poiry of Craig, a San Diego native who played D-I and pro baseball and coached in the Cape Cod Baseball League. “He puts a big emphasis on the classroom. It’s thing you can do to be proactive towards hitting without hitting.
“He gives you a couple of little things to just focus on. He does what works best for certain guys because every guy’s different.”
Poiry was born in Naperville, Ill., and moved to the HSE area as he was starting school.
He played for the Cats during his first days of organized baseball then was one of the of the first Indiana Nitro travel teams.
Rutger is the youngest of Randy and Rhonda Poiry’s four children (two girls and two boys), following Taylor, Harper and Carter.
“I was always in the back seat on my way to a sporting event,” says Rutger of his childhood in an athletic family. “My parents have always just been very supportive of all their kids. They wanted us to try every sport that we could.
“I enjoy being the youngest. I’m thankful that I had some older siblings kind of shape me and develop me as a person.”
Randy Poiry is regional sales director for Boulart, based in Quebec. Rhonda Poiry, a Saint Joseph’s College graduate, is a nurse.
Taylor played soccer at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., and graduated from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. Harper was on the soccer team at Ball State University and graduated from Indiana University.
Rutger, who is considering a masters degree in criminal justice, victimology, business or business administration, became interested in law enforcement by being around a Fishers police officer while at junior high.
“He just made this impression,” says Poiry, who could see himself as a police officer, state trooper or FBI agent.

Rutger Poiry (Eastern Kentucky University Photo)
Rutger Poiry (Steve Krah Photo)

Wichman raises interest, expectations for Scottsburg Warriors

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

Brian Wichman has helped Scottsburg (Ind.) High School to many baseball successes since taking over the Warriors program.
When he came on board prior to the 2018 season, Scottsburg had not had not posted a record above .500 since 2004 and high school players were not involved in travel ball in the summer.
“We had to get back to the basics and get people interested in ball,” says Wichman. “I’ve tried to really push kids toward travel ball.”
Wichman’s Warriors went 15-13 in 2018, regressed to 9-19 in 2019 with a young squad (there were only two seniors and one junior), missed the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic then sported 19-10 mark in 2021 bolstered by the senior and sophomore classes.
There were 22 players to take on varsity and junior varsity schedules.
Scottsburg (enrollment around 770) is a member of the Mid-Southern Conference (with Austin, Brownstown Central, Charlestown, Clarksville, Corydon Central, Eastern of Pekin, North Harrison, Salem and Silver Creek).
In 2021, the Warriors were part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Brownstown Central, Charlestown, Corydon Central, Madison Consolidated, North Harrison, Salem and Silver Creek (the 2021 host). Scottsburg has won six sectional crowns — the last in 1996.
Scottsburg plays on Warrior Field, an on-campus facility that was laser-graded four years ago and has Bermuda grass.
“It looks really good, especially when we get to May,” says Wichman.
Feeder systems include Scott County Youth League (T-ball through 12U) and a middle school team of seventh and eighth graders that play schools in the MSC and Hoosier Hills Conference.
Wichman, who teaches engineering and welding classes and is involved in Project Lead The Way at Scottsburg, has extensive coaching experiences at the high school and travel ball levels.
His first season was as a Columbus (Ind.) East High School assistant in 1995 while he was doing his student teaching. Wichman graduated from Ball State University with an Industrial Technology degree. He played baseball for one season (1991) at Indiana University Southeast before transferring to BSU.
Wichman served as an assistant at North Harrison High School in Ramsey, Ind., in 1996 and 1997 and helped at Columbus (Ind.) North High School in 2007.
From 2004-14, he ran the Indiana Blazers travel organization and coached for the Indiana Prospects in 2015 and 2016.
Brian and wife Cathy have four sons and all played for the Blazers and other travel teams, including the Indiana Prospects, Cincinnati Flames
Evansville Razorbacks and Indiana Bulls, as well as at Columbus East.
Left-handed pitcher Brian “B.T.” Wichman (Columbus East Class of 2013) was at Murray State University, Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Indianapolis. Peyton Gray, a 2014 Columbus East graduate now in the Kansas City Royals organization, was a high school and GCCC teammate.
Defensive back/catcher Christian Wichman (Columbus East Class of 2014) went to Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Ky., for football and baseball then transferred to play baseball at the University of West Georgia (Carrollton, Ga.).
Defensive back Noah Wichman (Columbus East Class of 2016) played football at Taylor University in Upland, Ind.
Infielder Jonah Wichman (Columbus East Class of 2019) was on the baseball team at Butler University in Indianapolis in 2020 and 2021 and has transferred to St. Charles Community College (Cottleville, Mo.).
The past two summers, Brian Wichman has been an assistant in the College Summer League at Grand Park — in 2020 with head coach Joe Thatcher’s Park Rangers and in 2021 with head coach Kevin Christman’s Moon Shots.
A 1990 graduate of Seymour (Ind.) High School, Wichman played one varsity season for Owls coach Bob Bowman.

Brian Wichman (Eyes Of The Heart Photography)
The Wichman family (from left): Noah. B.T., Cathy, Brian, Christian and Jonah.
The Wichmans (from left): First row — Cathy and Brian; Second row — Noah, B.T., Jonah and Christian.
Cathy and Brian Wichman.
Brian and Cathy Wichman.
Cathy, B.T. and Brian Wichman.
Brian, Jonah and Cathy Wichman.

Mishawaka grad Jablonski gets his college baseball chance at Valpo U.

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

Grant Jablonski had assumed that his baseball playing career was coming to an end with his couple of innings on the mound in the 2019 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Stars Series in Madison, Ind.
The Mishawaka (Ind.) High School graduate had not gotten any college baseball honors and had already enrolled as a student-only at Purdue University.
“I had given up on baseball,” says Jablonski, who exited Mishawaka in 2019 as the school record holder in career pitching wins (20) and career stolen bases (63) and was part of three sectional championship teams on the diamond (2016, 2018, 2019). “I wanted to play at a bigger school, but I had nowhere to go after I graduated.”
It turns out that two former Valparaiso (Ind.) University assistant coaches were going to help Jablonski turn things around.
Nic Mishler, who was then on the staff at Des Moines (Iowa) Area Community College, was scouting at a sectional game and reached out to Jablonski.
“I owe him a lot,” says Jablonski of Westview High School graduate Mishler who is now head coach at DACC.
Ben Wolgamot, a Western Kentucky University who had also been at Valpo, pulled some strings.
It also helped Jablonski that VU head coach Brian Schmack was at the all-star series since his son, Kyle Schmack, was participating — and on his way to MVP.
After a postgame conversation, Jablonski went to visit Coach Schmack on the Valpo campus and soon was starting his NCAA Division I baseball experience.
“It’s crazy,” says Jablonski, who was 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds when he stepped on the campus. “I owe Coach Schmack a lot for giving me a chance.
“I’m still trying to put weight on,” says right-hander Jablonski who is now up to 5-10 and 175.
In two seasons (2020-21), he has appeared in six games (all in relief) and is 0-0 with a 6.24 earned run average with six strikeouts and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.
In his second season in the College Summer League at Grand Park, Jablonski has been working a morning jobs and commuting to Westfield, Ind., on the days he starts. On July 20, the Moon Shots right-hander pitched 5 1/3 no-hit innings with one walk. The reason he came out of the game is that the team only had two pitchers available for a nine-inning game and Michael Brewer needed some mound time.
Jablonski played for the A-Team when the CSL cropped up in 2020 as other summer collegiate leagues were shutting down during COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a really good league,” says Jablonski, noting that University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis (No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft to the Pittsburgh Pirates) and Miami University fireballer and Hamilton Southeastern High School graduate Sam Bachman (No. 9 overall to the Los Angeles Angels) played at Grand Park in 2020.
Former San Francisco Giants scout Kevin Christman has been Jablonski’s head coach in both his CSL seasons.
“He’s a super good coach to have,” says Jablonski of Christman. “He’s a good source of baseball knowledge.”
Throwing from the three-quarter overhand arm slot, Jablonski employs a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, change-up and slider. His four-seamer sits about 86 to 89 mph. His curve moves end-over-end in a 12-to-6 fashion. His “circle” change has a low spin rate and drops. His slider — with more horizontal break — is somewhere between the fastball and change-up with its spin.
“The fastball and change-up compliment each other well when its coming from the same (release point).”
Jablonski says his fastball has spun at around 2300 rpm with the curve as high as about 2500.
There are flat screens at Grand Park that prominently display spin rates and velocity.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” says Jablonski. “You don’t need to fire 95, 96, 97 to be a good college pitcher.
“You need to threw multiple pitches in multiple counts for strikes and have command.”
Jablonski saw Schmack employ an opener (right-hander Easton Rhodehouse) and followed him with a starter (righty Ryan Mintz) in Valpo’s weekend series and both were able to spot pitches well and pitch to weak contact.
Left-hander Geremy Guerrero had a standout season for Missouri Valley Conference rival Indiana State University.
“He is by no means overpowering,” says Jablonski of Guerrero. “But he throws all pitches for command in all counts.”
One thing Jablonski appreciates about Schmack is the he makes small tweaks and does not overhaul a pitcher’s mechanics if it’s not necessary.
“He doesn’t try to change you too much,” says Jablonski. “It’s smaller changes.
“He knows what he’s talking about for sure.”
Born and raised in Mishawaka, Grant played for the Landsharks and later the Mishawaka Mayhem (2011-13), coached by father Jason Jablonski and Mike Fisher. That was followed by the Mike Lee-coached Indiana Shredders (2014-17), Mike Logan-coached Michiana Scrappers (2017-18) and Jim Shively-coached Indiana Chargers (2018-19).
Jablonski earned nine varsity letters at Mishawaka — four in baseball, three in basketball and two in football. His head coaches were John Huemmer in baseball, Ryan Watson and Ron Heclinski in basketball and Bart Curtis and Keith Kinder in football.
“He’s a great coach,” says Jablonski of Huemmer. “We had such a senior-led team (in 2019). He let us work on our own.”
The pitcher/middle infielder earned IHSBCA Class 4A honorable mention all-state honors in 2019 and was all-Northern Indiana Conference second team in 2017 and 2019.
Jablonski, who turns 21 on Sept. 1, is a Business Analytics major and Supply Chain and Logistics Management minor at Valpo U.
Grant’s parents are Jason and Kelley Jablonski. His siblings — both older — are Sydney Jablonski and Ryan Lewis.
Jason Jablonski is administrative director at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. Kelley Jablonski works at Beacon Health & Fitness.
Sydney Jablosnki is heading into pharmacy school at Purdue.
Ryan Lewis, who played baseball at Mishawaka High and Ancilla College, is employed by the City of Mishawaka.

WSBT-TV Video on Grant Jablonski
Grant Jablonski (Valparaiso University Photo)
Grant Jablonski (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)
Grant Jablonski (Valparsaiso University Photo)

Indiana native Estep finds himself while playing in Oklahoma

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

Dawson Estep counts it a privilege to play baseball.
So even though he considers himself a middle infielder, he’ll go wherever coaches want to use him.
“I don’t write the lineup,” says Estep, a 2019 graduate of University High School in Carmel, Ind., who is preparing to return to Connors State College in Warner, Okla., in mid-August. “I’ll play anywhere as long as I’m on the field having fun.
“I’m just excited to be out on the field playing.”
This summer, the 21-year-old has been primarily been used at second base by Moon Shots head coach Kevin Christman in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.
Estep and Christman go way back.
“I’ve know him known since before I was 10,” says Estep. “He’s watched me grow up.
“It’s fun playing for him in the summer.”
Christman, a retired San Francisco Giants scout, has helped Chris and Sue Estep at RoundTripper Sports Academy in Westfield and the Indiana Mustangs travel organization and is very familiar with the Estep children — Tron, Dawson and Jasmine.
RoundTripper/Mustangs founder Chris Estep is a master instructor and University High head coach. He played at the University of Kentucky. Sue Estep was a cheerleader at UK.
Indianapolis Cathedral High School graduate Tron Estep played football at Elon (N.C.) University, where he has earned underrate and masters degrees, and is about to go to U.S. Army National Guard boot camp.
Competitive dancer/cheerleader Jasmine Estep is heading into her senior year at Carmel High School.
“She’s probably the best athlete in the family,” says Dawson of his sister. “She can do 10 straight back flips.”
Cousin Chase Estep, who played with Dawson on the Indiana Mustangs, played his second season at Kentucky in the spring and is with the Northwoods League’s Kenosha (Wis.) Kingfish this summer.
Dawson Estep helps out at RoundTripper when he’s not working out, honing his skills or playing in the CSL.
At 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, Estep has added about 15 pounds of muscle since going to Connors State in January.
A catalyst for University’s IHSAA Class 1A state runner-up and state championship teams in 2018 and 2019, Estep went to Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill., and played for the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Warriors in the spring of 2020, a season shortened to 12 games by the COVID-19.
After the shutdown, Estep took online classes and worked out back in Indiana. When there was a change in the Rend Lake coaching staff and uncertainty about the 2021 season, he began looking for other opportunities.
“We were at the height of COVID and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Estep. “I didn’t want to get stuck and not have a place to be.”
Estep posted Twitter videos of himself on offense and defense and Connors State reached out. He visited and ended up going with the Perry Keith-coached Cowboys.
“I’ve found myself as a ballplayer,” says Estep. “It’s the right spot for me.
“I’m in the right environment where I can grow as a player and a person.”
Keith has been at Connors State for more than three decades and amassed more than 1,600 wins. His teams have made five JUCO World Series appearances.
“He’s a legend in the coaching world,” says Estep of Keith. “He’s one of those coaches that makes you go the extra mile. He gets the best of everybody. He’s honest even if you don’t want to hear it.
“He’s the guy you want to go to battle for and he’ll go to battle for you.”
Estep credits Keith for helping him mature and grow.
Estep has embraced the “JUCO Bandit” approach to baseball.
“You’re on your own but you’re not on your own,” says Estep. “You have to grow up fast.
“You use the resources you have and come up with things on the fly. You have a lot of ingenuity and use what you have. When I’m back home I have a lot more things at my disposable. It makes makes me appreciate them.”
Estep says junior college baseball — for those who work at it – provides a chance to play right away and find their niche in the game. In his first season Connors State, he worked out at many infield positions in a utility role.
In 17 games, he hit .324 (11-of-34) with seven runs batted in, 11 runs scored and two stolen bases as the Cowboys went 37-18.
In the fall, JUCO players are often at the field up to 10 hours a day.
“The fall is where the boys become men,” says Estep. “It’s the grind.
“Once they move on to a four-year school they’re prepared for anything.”
Since he was 14 or 15, Estep has been a switch hitter.
“I liked hitting left-handed when I played wiffle ball with my friends,” says Estep. “I started becoming comfortable (in baseball).”
Estep explains the advantage of hitting from both sides of the plate.
“I don’t have issues hitting a breaking ball,” says Estep. “Everything comes into me. I go after the fastball and stay back on the change-up.
“I don’t see lefties a lot. I’ve had maybe 10 at-bats right-handed this summer. So I work even harder on the right side.”
For either side, Estep does plenty of tee work and sets the pitching machine at high velocity to get ready for game speed.
He does drills that concentrate on his lower half.
“I sometimes get antsy with my feet and try to kill the ball,” says Estep. “I try to be a fundamentally-sound as possible.”
He likes to take the same amount of cuts righty and lefty since he does not know who is coming out of the bullpen if the starter should leave.
Dawson was born in Indianapolis and spent his whole life in Carmel.
While he and his father probably talk about baseball everyday, there’s also conversations about school. After he gets his basic classes completed and lands at a four-year school, Dawson sees himself pursuing a degree in sports management or business.
“I want to get into coaching and help younger kids,” says Dawson of his post-playing ambitions. “This game has helped me so much.
“I might as well do that for the rest of my life.”

Dawson Estep (Connors State College Photo)
Moons Shots second baseman Dawson Estep (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)
Moon Shots infielder Dawson Estep (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)
Moons Shots second baseman Dawson Estep (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)
Switch hitter Dawson Estep (College Summer League at Grand Park Photo)