By STEVE KRAH
Jeremy Jones thoroughly enjoyed his fifth season as head baseball coach at Evansville (Ind.) North High School in 2018.
The Huskies won 22 games — the program’s most in 13 years — and played in the IHSAA Class 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional championship game, losing to eventual Plainfield semistate runner-up Castle.
Led by a senior group featuring Payne Collins, Jon Newton, Zach Simpson and Nathan Toone, North was ranked much of the spring (winding up No. 8 in the final Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association regular-season poll) while extending the program’s record streak of winning seasons in seven.
“They’re just baseball kids,” says Jones. “It’s a group that’s jelled together.
“They do the little things.”
North batters produced a 2-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio and the Huskies stole 130 bases in 2018.
Right-handed pitcher Toone moved on to Vincennes University.
Returnees and incoming players have Jones seeing a bright future on the north side of the Pocket City.
“This is the most talent I’ve had freshmen through seniors,” says Jones. “I couldn’t be more excited about the (2019) season.
“The sophomores and freshmen are a pretty good group for us.”
Returning seniors include shortstop Alex Archuleta (son of University of Southern Indiana head coach Tracy Archuleta), outfielder Seth Seniour and catcher A.J. Wheeler.
While a few may be added, Jones expects his coaching staff to include David Johnson, Zane Mauser, John Newman, Dustin Murray, Tyler Owen and Kyle Kempf.
Another thing that has Jones pumped is the IHSAA rule change which allows periods where coaches can work with the whole squad for twice a week for two hours each (rather than two athletes at a time) and that first window opens Monday, Aug. 27.
“This is going to help with coaches who are ready to invest in practices,” says Jones. “It will be a huge advantage for people who are ready to work.”
Jones says he expects to have about 45 players in his program — varsity, junior and freshman — and another 15 on the Cub (eighth grade) team.
Jones began his run with the Huskies with the 2013 season and North won 19 and and 18 contests those first two years. That ’13 team had no returning starters.
Former North players currently on the USI roster are Jayden Beshears, Ryan Gulledge, Tyler Hagedorn and Zach Pate.
A 1994 Evansville Bosse graduate and former Eugene Pate American Legion Post 265 player, Jones was a four-year starter at third base for the USI in Evansville with a redshirt year.
Mike Goedde, who had coached Jones during his junior Legion season, was his head coach at USI.
“He taught me that to get anything you have to work hard,” says Jones of Goedde, who is now head coach at Evansville Central High School. “You have to put the time and effort in to be a good baseball player.
“Coach Goedde was definitely organized and we got our reps in.”
Jones has three simple rules for his North Huskies and they are posted in the dugout — be one time; be a good teammate; always hustle.
“If our kids follow those three guidelines we’re in a pretty good place as a program,” says Jones.
Playing for Goedde is the basis of those rules.
“Coach Goedde was definitely organized and we got our reps in,” says Jones. “It’s loving the game and having the ability to work hard.
“You want to get better.”
Jones graduated from USI in 1999. He was an assistant coach at Bosse from 2001-04 and then head coach of the Bulldogs from 2005-12. In the summers, he also coached the junior team for Pate Post 265 from 1998-2003 and Pate’s senior squad from 2007-13.
Evansville North belongs to the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (along with Evansville Bosse, Evansville Central, Castle, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville Memorial and Evansville Reitz).
SIAC teams play one another twice in home-and-home series on Tuesday and Thursday or Friday for seventh straight weeks.
All-SIAC performers for the Huskies in 2018 were pitcher Toone and outfielder Newton on the first team and Archuleta on the second team.
Jones helps make out his non-conference schedule, which in 2018 featured Bedford North Lawrence, Boonville, Decatur Central, Gibson Southern, Indian Creek, Jasper, Martinsville and South Spencer among others. South Spencer head coach Brian Kuester coached Pate Post 265 in Jones’ senior summer.
North, which opened its current building in January 2012, has side-by-side varsity and practice baseball fields. With no trees around to speak of, it is often windy.
“We work on pop-fly communication everyday,” says Jones.
Besides the Cub program, which plays SIAC and other schools, North Husky baseball is fed by Evansville East Youth Baseball, McCutchanville Oak Hill Recreational Activities Club (MORAC) and various travel organizations.
North’s summer youth baseball camp drew 115 players.
“There is no shortage of baseball going on for kids who are in our district,” says Jones.
The educator now teaches U.S. History to North freshmen. His teaching career also includes a 13-year stint at Washington Middle School.
Jeremy and Kacy Jones have three children — Kennedy (10), Cooper (8) and Caroline (3).
Kiwanis award winner Jon Newton (left) poses with Evansville (Ind.) North High School head baseball coach Jeremy Jones after the 2018 season.
Head coach Jeremy Jones (far right) poses with 2018 Evansville (Ind.) North High School baseball seniors (from left) Jon Newton, Zach Simpson, Payne Collins and Nathan Toone.