Promoting retention of concepts taught, Indianapolis Lutheran High School head baseball coach Adam Gouker is testing his players as they prepare for the 2022 season. “People talk about the five tools of baseball (speed, power, hitting for average, fielding and arm strength),” says Gouker, who was hired prior to the 2020 season canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic and led the Saints on the field for the first time in 2021. “Baseball I.Q. or Baseball Awareness is the most under-taught part of baseball. “We put players through mental training.” Ramping it up in January, players will witness presentations on various parts of the game and then take an exam which produces a metric — a Baseball Academics Rating (BAR). “We are by no stretch of the imagination the most athletic team, but we understand what to do with the ball (on defense),” says Gouker. “It makes us extremely competitive. “It’s my favorite thing to teach. The guys eat it up and it builds passion.” As co-founder and vice president of BAMFAM (Baseball Academics Midwest/Fastpitch Academics Midwest) and owner/operator of Extra Innings Indy South, Gouker has been testing players’ knowledge for years. “I’m involved in a lot of instruction,” says Gouker. “Baseball is life.” Gower also insists that his assistant Lutheran coaches get certified through Dugout Coalition. “It’s a a really useful tool to make sure we’re all teaching accurately the same things,” says Gouker. “There are lot of coaches out there in the world that have been involved in baseball in the past and not enough recognition if those coaches are staying up with the latest and greatest in the sport.” In getting Dugout Coalition-certified, coaches take in about 44 hours of online training and then must pass an exam. Lutheran assistants for 2022 are Zach Akers, Tyler Danner, Josh Meaney, Russell Parker and Jonas Akers. Danner, Meaney and Parker are also BAMFAM coaches. Jonas Akers, son of Zach, is a former Lutheran player now attending Wabash College. Another emphasis for Gouker’s Saints is base running. Players able to attend fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period practices (many others were involved in fall sports, including the state championship-winning Lutheran football team) worked on base running (reading pitchers, getting leads) and there will be more of the same when the next LCP window opens Dec. 6 along with arm strengthening, velocity care, defensive fundamentals, batting practice, weight training and — of course — mental training. Lutheran’s high-octane running program produced 143 stolen bases in 2021 with four players in double digits for a squad that played 27 games. Senior Sean Moore, a commit to Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio (where former University of Indianapolis assistantLandon Hutchinson is head coach) is coming off a 22-steal season as is senior Cade Tabit. Senior Cole Perkins swiped 19 in ’21. “We had a pretty solid offensive year,” says Gouker. “We want to make sure their defensive side is as high as we can have it.” The Saints play home games on-campus. The facility has recently had its mound and home plate areas re-built and lean bars added in the dugout. “We want players up and engaged in the game,” says Gouker. There’s also been talk of upgrading the backstop with padding and new netting. Recent Lutheran graduates that moved on to college baseball include Matt Alter (Piedmont University in Demorest, Ga., and now at Hanover College) and Noah Wood (Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., and now at Franklin College). Lutheran graduate Jared Broughton was once a Piedmont assistant and is now a volunteer assistant at Clemson University. A feeder system for the high school are the Junior Saints junior high team (formerly coached by Greg Hughes), which had about a dozen seventh and eighth graders taking on area teams in 2021. Lutheran (enrollment around 220) is a member of the Indiana Crossroads Conference (with Beech Grove, Cascade, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Monrovia, Scecina Memorial, Speedway and Triton Central). Conference games are played in home-and-home series on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “I like that format,” says Gouker. “This way you’re not facing the same pitcher each time and you can make adjustments from the first game to the second.” In 2021, the Saints were part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Edinburgh, Greenwood Christian Academy, Morristown, Southwestern (Shelbyville) and Waldron. Lutheran has won 13 sectional titles — the last in 2019. Lutheran’s social media includes Facebook and Instagram. Gouker is a 2007 graduate of Alexandra-Monroe Junior/Senior High School who played at Anderson (Ind.) University. He has been married to high school sweethart Hannah since 2014. The couple has a son — Odin (10 months).
Dennis Smith has been head baseball coach at Edinburgh (Ind.) High School since the 2019. He already knows a point of emphasis for 2022. “Pitching,” says Smith. “Last year we won one game. In 17 gams, we had 148 walks. “Throwing strikes will be crucial this (coming) year.” Three pitchers — seniors Ian Buchanan and Riley Palmer and sophomore Gabe Bennett — return. Senior Travis Jones and junior Max Blanford are also expected to get a turn on the mound. The 2021-22 school year is the first where Edinburgh athletes are allowed to participate in two sports during the game season. Smith says Blanford will split his time between golf and baseball. Smith, who teaches eighth grade math at Edinburgh, was a Lancers assistant on the staff of Cole Zook in 2013-14 and helped Jason Burke one season prior to taking over the program. A 2003 Edinburgh graduate, middle infielder Smith played for head coach Todd Tatlock as a senior and was a teammate of current Southwestern of Shelbyville coach Chris Ingels (Edinburgh Class of 2002). “I still pick his brain,” says Smith of Tatlock, an Edinburgh alum who was an All-American at Indiana State University. “I still call him or get with him when I can.” An IHSAA Limited Contact Period goes from Aug. 30-Oct. 16. Smith says Edinburgh does not plan to start baseball activities until January. “I can’t (practice in the fall),” says Smith, who works at a school with an enrollment around 235 and plenty of baseball players involved in fall sports. “We’ve got to share your kids as much as possible.” Smith says he expects a few players to find the time to play in a Sunday fall baseball league in Columbus. A feeder for the high school program is the Edinburgh Park and Recreation/Babe Ruth League. Edinburgh is a member of the Mid-Hoosier Conference (with Hauser, Morristown, North Decatur, South Decatur,Southwestern of Shelbyville and Waldron). In 2021, the Lancers were part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Greenwood Christian Academy, Indianapolis Lutheran, Morristown, Southwestern of Shelbyville and Waldron. Edinburgh has won four sectional titles — the last in 2017. Lancer Field at Steve Hollenbeck Sports Complex is the home diamond for Edinburgh baseball. Plans call for a new mound to be installed next week. “We hope to put in four new loads of dirt in the infield,” says Smith. Chris Hoffman and Coltan Henderson are assistant coaches. Smith says another may be added to the staff. Dennis and wife Hannah have three children — daughters Reese (9) and Reagan (6) and son Ryan (who turns 2 in November). When he’s not teaching or coaching, Dennis likes to compete in bass fishing tournaments.
The Class of 2021 played a part in a 14-11 baseball season in 2018 — the first winning season in program history since 1976. The Spartans went 17-9 on the diamond in 2019 and lost the 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They’ve contributed so much to our school,” says Ingels, who heads into his eighth season as Southwestern head baseball coach this spring and is also a boys basketball assistant and head cross country coach at the school where he is also a Social Studies and Physical Education teacher. “They’re pretty special kids and great students.
“When you have really good players it makes the coach look smart.”
Of the Spartans’ six seniors (Anick Harstell, Christian DeArmitt, Ethan Wending, Chance Johnson, Blake Dunbar and Kirk Van Gorden), five played as sophomores with Hartsell, DeArnitt, Wending and Johnson in the starting lineup.
Two juniors (Aiden Hartsell and Jordan Jones) started as freshmen. Matthew Clements is a talented sophomore who grew up in the Indiana Bulls organization. Southwestern lost two players to graduation in 2020.
Ingels’ 2021 assistant is South Dearborn High School graduate and Franklin College senior Alex Smith.
The Spartans could see Triton Central in the Shelby County Tournament at Morristown on May 8.
There are 17 players in the Southwestern program. Ingels says a few junior varsity games will be sprinkled in to get younger players some playing experience.
The Spartans play home games on-campus at the Jeremy Wright Athletic Complex.
The high school program is fed by a junior high club. Seventh and eighth graders play some games in the spring then take part in the Babe Ruth League at Edinburgh during the summer.
“It’s really beneficial,” says Ingels.
Ingels, played tennis for Kevin Rockey, Rodney Klein and Pete Khensouri, basketball for Steve Todd and baseball for Derick Bright and Brian Ingels (his father) at Edinburgh High School and graduated in 2002.
Todd was the first to talk to Chris about coaching and gave him the opportunity to volunteer with the Lancers.
“(Bright) was a really good baseball coach,” says Ingels. “He changed the way we practiced. Everything was structured. In (batting practice), we’d have two-strike swings, hit-and-run swings, bunt, hit to the right side and swing away.”
Brian Ingels, who had been head football coach at Edinburgh when Chris was young and a longtime cross country and track coach at the school. He was Bright’s assistant before stepping in as head baseball coach for his son’s senior year. The Industrial Arts instructor is currently in his 43rd year of teaching at Edinburgh.
Ingels began coaching boys basketball before finishing at Franklin College in 2007 as an assistant to Edinburgh head coach Todd Tatlock.
After that, Ingels aided Kerry Brown then Toby Carrigan at South Dearborn before helping Brent Keck at Perry Meridian. He is on Brady Days’ staff at Southwestern.
Lance Marshall, the Franklin College head baseball coach, has let Ingels sit in on Grizzlies practice and has offered advice.
“He’s a great guy,” says Ingels.
Ingels values his relationships and connections to his young athletes.
“Through baseball you are dealing with a lot of failure and adversity,” says Ingels. “You’re trying to get kids to be able to handle that and push their way through it and succeed in the end.”
Ingels sees a lot of lessons in baseball.
“It starts with preparation and having to put a lot of work into each little part,” says Ingels. “That adds up in the end.”
The coach appreciates the team aspect of the sport and that you’re
“A lot of people think baseball is an individual sport on your own island at each position and getting your stats at the plate,” says Ingels. “It’s the ultimate team sport when it comes down to it.”
One player can’t carry the whole load.
On the offensive side, Ingels sees worth in batting average. But that doesn’t rank first in his eyes.
“On-base percentage is so much more important,” says Ingels. “We’ve got to get men on base.”
While the Spartans may not chart it in 2021, there will be discussions about quality at-bats.
“Sometimes a groundout to the right side can be productive,” says Ingels.
“I feel really lucky,” says Coy, who is heading into his first season as head coach at Waldron (Ind.) Junior-Senior High School in Shelby County. “There are a lot of guys I can seek council from all over the place.
“They want baseball to be great in this state. They’ll give you any piece of advice you need and do anything to grow the game.”
Coy was going to be an assistant to Doug Burcham before the 2020 season was called off because the COVID-19 pandemic.
Southwestern is No. 3 and Hauser No. 6 in the 1A preseason rankings and Knightstown is receiving votes in 2A.
With 16 players — up from the usual 11 or 12 — Coy says the Mohawks will play only a varsity schedule this spring.
Coy’s 2021 assistants are all Waldron graduates — Cam Wells (Class of 2018), Nate Bernard (2019) and Cole Chappelow (2020).
The 2020-21 school year is Coy’s second in Shelby Eastern Schools (which includes Waldron and Morristown) where he teaches U.S. History, Psychology and Sociology. At various times, he educates sixth through 12th graders.
Coy has also been an assistant boys basketball coach on the Waldron staff of Beau Scott.
Waldron Junior-Senior serves the communities of Waldron, Geneva, St. Paul and some students outside Shelbyville.
“I’ve had a nice little gambit to learn from and coach under,” says Coy. “(Carlton) is a bright young coach. He eats it up.
“They do it differently, but (Cosgray) and (Froedge) were awesome mentors for me.”
Carlton helped Coy upgrade the infield at Waldron’s on-campus field.
There are five high schools in Shelby County — Waldron, Morristown, Shelbyville, Southwestern (Shelbyville) and Triton Central. Coy and Carlton would like to see a county league for younger players with teams feeding their respective schools.
A 2002 graduate of Western Boone Junior-Senior High School in Thorntown, Ind., Coy played for Stars head coach Don Jackson and pitching coach Rob Ebert (who also coached him during the summer). His father, Doug Coy, was also a WEBO assistant.
Jackson had a passion for baseball and expected his players to respect the game by playing hard.
Ebert taught Coy how to “turn the ball over” to get it to move in on a right-handed batter.
“If we can pitch inside I think we’ll have a lot of success at Waldron for sure,” says Coy.
Before arm issues cropped up, right-hander Coy pitched two seasons at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., where Tom Flynn was the Little Giants head coach and Cory Stevens the pitching coach.
Flynn was the Old School, in-your-face type of coach.
“He’d get the most out of you,” says Coy. “He genuinely cared for his players.”
Stevens, who is now athletic director at Jennings County High School in North Vernon, Ind., let Coy know the importance of controlled movement and pitching backwards (throwing breaking balls and change-ups in counts were the hitter is usually looking for a fastball — 0-0, 1-0, 2-0, 3-1 and 3-2).
“The change-up is most underutilized pitch in all of baseball,” says Coy. “It’s all the grip and takes time to develop. Kids don’t have the patience.
“They want instant gratification.”
Coy admires how Hall of Famer Greg Maddux — while not throwing in the upper 90’s — was able to craftily pin-point his pitches on the inside and outside corners of the plate and get lots of movement.
Tommy and Stacey Coy (a 2004 Waldron alum who was a senior in the pep band at the time the Mohawks went 27-0 and won the IHSAA Class 1A boys basketball state championship) have two sons — Kellen (9) and Karsten (7). The boys will have birthdays two days apart in May — Kellen on the 12th and Karsten the 14th.
Those questions were answered as IHSAA Executive Committee minutes from Feb. 19 were released March 8.
According to the IHSAA website, Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens reported on the general format, sites and other preliminary plans for the 2020-21 Baseball Tournament Series.
Faulkens was notified by the Indianapolis Indians that their schedule is now set by Major League Baseball rather than the International League and has the team set for home games on the dates of this year’s IHSAA State Finals. The plan now will be to play this year’s state championship games on the following Monday and Tuesday (June 21-22).
The first IHSAA practice date is March 15. The first contest date is March 29.
Sectionals Class 4A 1. Merrillville (6): East Chicago Central, Hammond Morton, Highland, Lake Central, Merrillville, Munster. 2. Chesterton (7): Andrean, Chesterton, Crown Point, Hobart, Lowell, Portage, Valparaiso. 3. Plymouth (6): LaPorte, Michigan City, Mishawaka, Plymouth, South Bend Adams, South Bend Riley. 4. Northridge (6): Concord, Elkhart, Goshen, Northridge, Penn, Warsaw Community. 5. Carroll (Fort Wayne) (5): Carroll (Fort Wayne), DeKalb, East Noble, Fort Wayne Northrop, Fort Wayne Snider
6. Huntington North (6): Columbia City, Fort Wayne North Side, Fort Wayne South Side, Fort Wayne Wayne, Homestead, Huntington North. 7. Lafayette Jefferson (5): Harrison (West Lafayette), Kokomo, Lafayette Jefferson, Logansport, McCutcheon. 8. Westfield (6): Carmel, Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville, Westfield, Zionsville. 9. Pendleton Heights (6): Anderson, Greenfield-Central, Mt. Vernon (Fortville), Muncie Central, Pendleton Heights, Richmond.
10. Ben Davis (7): Ben Davis, Indianapolis Arsenal Technical, Indianapolis Cathedral, Lawrence Central, Lawrence North, North Central (Indianapolis), Pike 11. Warren Central (6): Franklin Central, New Palestine, Perry Meridian, , Roncalli, Southport, Warren Central. 12. Plainfield (6): Avon, Brownsburg, Decatur Central, Plainfield, Terre Haute North Vigo, Terre Haute South Vigo. 13. Mooresville (6): Center Grove, Franklin Community, Greenwood Community, Martinsville, Mooresville, Whiteland Community. 14. Bloomington North (6): Bloomington North, Bloomington South, Columbus East, Columbus North, East Central, Shelbyville. 15. New Albany (6): Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jeffersonville, Jennings County, New Albany, Seymour. 16. Evansville F.J. Reitz (6): Castle, Evansville Central, Evansville F.J. Reitz, Evansville Harrison, Evansville North, Jasper.
Class 3A 17. Griffith (6): Calumet, Gary West Side, Griffith, Hammond, Hammond Clark, Hammond Gavit. 18. Kankakee Valley (6): Culver Academies, Glenn, Hanover Central, Kankakee Valley, Knox, River Forest. 19. South Bend Clay (5): Mishawaka Marian, New Prairie, South Bend Clay, South Bend Saint Joseph, South Bend Washington. 20. Northwestern (7): Benton Central, Maconaquah, Northwestern, Peru, Twin Lakes, West Lafayette, Western.
21. Wawasee (6): Jimtown, Lakeland, NorthWood, Tippecanoe Valley, Wawasee, West Noble. 22. Garrett (7): Angola, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran, Garrett, Leo, New Haven. 23. Bellmont (6): Bellmont, Heritage, Marion, Mississinewa, Norwell, Oak Hill. 24. Yorktown (6): Delta, Guerin Catholic, Hamilton Heights, Jay County, New Castle, Yorktown. 25. North Montgomery (6): Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Lebanon, North Montgomery, Northview, South Vermillion.
26. Brebeuf Jesuit (5): Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory, Danville Community, Greencastle, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Tri-West Hendricks. 27. Beech Grove (5): Beech Grove, Herron, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, Indianapolis Emmerich Manual, Indianapolis Shortridge. 28. Owen Valley (6): Brown County, Edgewood, Indian Creek, Owen Valley, Sullivan, West Vigo. 29. Lawrenceburg (7): Batesville, Connersville, Franklin County, Greensburg, Lawrenceburg, Rushville Consolidated, South Dearborn. 30. Silver Creek (8): Brownstown Central, Charlestown, Corydon Central, Madison Consolidated, North Harrison, Salem, Scottsburg, Silver Creek. 31. Southridge (6): Gibson Southern, Pike Central, Princeton Community, Southridge, Vincennes Lincoln, Washington
Class 2A 33. Whiting (6): Bowman Leadership Academy, Gary Roosevelt, Hammond Bishop Noll, Lake Station Edison, Wheeler, Whiting.
34. Hebron (6): Boone Grove, Hebron, North Judson-San Pierre, North Newton, Rensselaer Central, Winamac Community. 35. Westview (6): Bremen, Central Noble, Fairfield, LaVille, Prairie Heights, Westview. 36. Eastside (6): Adams Central, Bluffton, Churubusco, Eastside, South Adams, Woodlan. 37. Wabash (6): Carroll (Flora), Lewis Cass, Manchester, Rochester Community, Wabash, Whitko. 38. Delphi (6): Clinton Prairie, Delphi Community, Fountain Central, Lafayette Central Catholic, Seeger, Western Boone. 39. Eastern (Greentown) (6): Blackford, Eastbrook, Eastern (Greentown), Madison-Grant, Taylor, Tipton. 40. Lapel (8): Alexandria Monroe, Elwood Community, Frankton, Lapel, Monroe Central, Muncie Burris, Wapahani, Winchester Community. 41. Centerville (5): Centerville, Hagerstown, Northeastern, Shenandoah, Union County. 42. Heritage Christian (6): Eastern Hancock, Heritage Christian, Indianapolis Scecina Memorial, Knightstown, Triton Central. 43. Cascade (6): Cascade, Covenant Christian (Indpls), Monrovia, Park Tudor, Speedway, University. 44. Southmont (5): Cloverdale, North Putnam, Parke Heritage, South Putnam, Southmont. 45. South Ripley (6): Milan, North Decatur, South Decatur, South Ripley, Southwestern (Hanover), Switzerland County. 46. Eastern (Pekin) (6): Austin, Clarksville, Crawford County, Eastern (Pekin), Henryville, Providence.
47. Mitchell (6): Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, Mitchell, North Knox, Paoli, South Knox. 48. Tell City (6): Evansville Mater Dei, Forest Park, North Posey, Perry Central, South Spencer, Tell City.
Class 1A 49. Washington Township (8): 21st Century Charter-Gary, Covenant Christian (DeMotte), Hammond Academy of Science & Technology, Kouts, Marquette Catholic, Morgan Township, Washington Township, Westville.
50. LaCrosse (7): Argos, Culver Community, LaCrosse, Oregon-Davis, South Bend Career Academy, South Central (Union Mills), Triton. 51. Fremont (7): Bethany Christian, Elkhart Christian Academy, Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian, Fort Wayne Canterbury, Fremont, Hamilton, Lakewood Park Christian 52. Caston (7): Caston, North Miami, North White, Northfield, Pioneer, Southwood, West Central. 53. Riverton Parke (5): Attica, Covington, Faith Christian, North Vermillion, Riverton Parke. 54. Frontier (6): Clinton Central, Frontier, Rossville, Sheridan, South Newton, Tri-County. 55. Liberty Christian (7): Anderson Preparatory Academy, Cowan, Daleville, Liberty Christian, Southern Wells, Tri-Central, Wes-Del. 56. Seton Catholic (6): Blue River Valley, Cambridge City Lincoln, Randolph Southern, Seton Catholic, Tri, Union City. 57. White River Valley (6): Bloomfield, Clay City, Eminence, North Central (Farmersburg), Shakamak, White River Valley 58. Bethesda Christian (6): Bethesda Christian, Indiana School for the Deaf, Irvington Preparatory Academy, Providence Cristo Rey, Tindley, Traders Point Christian. 59. Morristown (6): Edinburgh, Greenwood Christian Academy, Indianapolis Lutheran, Morristown, Southwestern (Shelbyville), Waldron. 60. Jac-Cen-Del (6): Hauser, Jac-Cen-Del, Oldenburg Academy, Rising Sun, Trinity Lutheran. 61. South Central (Elizabeth) (5): Borden, Christian Academy of Indiana, Lanesville, Orleans, South Central (Elizabeth). 62. West Washington (4): Crothersville, New Washington, Shawe Memorial, West Washington. 63. North Daviess (5): Barr-Reeve, Loogootee, North Daviess, Shoals, Vincennes Rivet. 64. Northeast Dubois (5): Cannelton, Northeast Dubois, Springs Valley, Tecumseh, Wood Memorial.
1. LaPorte Feeder Sectionals: Chesterton, LaPorte, Merrillville, Northridge. 2. Kokomo Feeder Sectionals: DeKalb, Huntington North, Lafayette Jefferson, Westfield. 3. Plainfield Feeder Sectionals: Ben Davis Pendleton Heights, Terre Haute South Vigo, Warren Central. 4. Jasper Feeder Sectionals: Bloomington North, Evansville F.J. Reitz, Jennings County, Mooresville.
5. Griffith Feeder Sectionals: Griffith, Kankakee Valley, South Bend Clay, Northwestern. 6. Bellmont Feeder Sectionals: Wawasee, Garrett, Bellmont, Yorktown. 7. Danville Feeder Sectionals: Beech Grove, Brebeuf Jesuit, North Montgomery, Owen Valley. 8. Southridge Feeder Sectionals: Evansville Bosse, Lawrenceburg, Silver Creek, Southridge.
10. Lafayette Central Catholic Feeder Sectionals: Delphi, Eastern (Greentown), Lapel, Wabash. 11. Park Tudor/Cascade Feeder Sectionals: Cascade, Centerville, Heritage Christian, Southmont. 12. Evansville Mater Dei (Bosse Field) Feeder Sectionals: Eastern (Pekin), Mitchell, South Ripley, Tell City.
13. South Bend Washington Feeder Sectionals: Caston, Fremont, LaCrosse, Washington Township. 14. Carroll (Flora) Feeder Sectionals: Frontier, Liberty Christian, Riverton Parke, Seton Catholic. 15. Morristown Feeder Sectionals: Bethesda Christian, Jac-Cen-Del, Morristown, White River Valley. 16. Lanesville Feeder Sectionals: North Daviess, Northeast Dubois, South Central (Elizabeth), West Washington.
1. LaPorte 2. Kokomo 3. Mooresville
Victory Field (Indianapolis), 501 W. Maryland Street, Indianapolis The eight (8) winning teams of the semi-state tourneys shall constitute the participants in the state tourney.
Parker, 44, is heading into his fifth year with the Dodgers in 2021. While his travel outside the U.S. has been curtailed this year because of COVID-19 (just two trips since March), he has been to Latin America many times and to Asia in search of baseball talent.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Parker has been able to travel to Miami in recent months to evaluate international players.
His priority leading up to spring training will be getting ready for the signing of the 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft class in January. During a normal year, that would have been done on July 2 following the June draft. Once players are signed most will be assigned to the Dominican Summer League.
“We’re safely trying to get our jobs done,” says Parker, who counts Dodgers international scouting executive Ismael Cruz as his boss. Parker was with the Toronto Blue Jays when he first worked with Cruz.
With Alex Anthopoulos as general manager and Dana Brown as special assistant to the GM for the Blue Jays, Parker first worked in pro scouting and dealt with arbitration cases and was later promoted to the head of amateur scouting and oversaw Toronto’s participation in the MLB Draft.
Brown hired Parker as assistant scouting director for the Montreal Expos. For that position, he moved to Montreal in his second year (2004; the franchise’s last in Canada before becoming the Washington Nationals).
Parker worked primarily in amateur scouting and draft preparation while also helping on the pro scouting side.
“Dana Brown is one guy I give a lot of credit to for help me along the way as a mentor,” says Parker. “A lot of what I’ve been able to do is because of him.”
Brown is now vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves, where Anthopoulos is now president of baseball operations and general manager.
Parker was with the Expos/Nationals for seven years. When the team moved to D.C., Parker went there. His last two years he was director of baseball operations, dealing with administrative matters such as contracts and transactions.
His Expos tenure began in player development development operations at the spring training complex in Melbourne, Fla.
“I did a little bit of everything on the minor league side with player development,” says Parker.
Prior to that, Parker was employed by MLB. He was assistant director of baseball operations for the Arizona Fall League for one year and the AFL’s director of baseball ops the second year.
He worked with all 30 MLB teams and had a hand in many things including dealing with umpires and AFL host stadiums. He also got to see the game’s top prospects on display.
Parker helped in the sports information department at ISU — working extensively with Rob Ervin and Jennifer Little — and earned a Business Management degree from the Terre Haute school in 1998.
“I wanted to work in sports,” says Parker. “I knew that a business background would help.”
Parker was born in Michigan and moved to Morristown around 4. Since he was a youngster and playing basketball and some youth baseball in Shelby County, Ind., the oldest son of Richard and Linda Parker (now retired teachers) and older brother of Jason Parker (who nows lives outside Indianapolis) has been interested in the behind-the-scenes side of sports.
The summer of graduating from high school (1994), Parker joined the grounds crew for the Indianapolis Indians and was with the Triple-A team in that role in 1994 and 1995 and was an intern in 1996 as the Indians moved from Bush Stadium to Victory Field.
Parker’s first experience in baseball scouting came during an internship with the Colorado Rockies during the summer of 1997. He entered scouting reports, went through the draft, got to hear other scouts talk about baseball under Rockies general manager Bob Gebhard and also helped with the media relations staff in the press box.
“It was a great every level position,” says Parker.
After going back to ISU to earn his degree Parker saw there was a regime change in the Rockies front office.
Parker spent three years — one as an intern and two as a full-time employee in media relations with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.
After that, he got back into baseball with the Arizona Fall League.
Parker has had a guiding principle throughout his career.
“It’s so important to work with good people and do the best job you can,” says Parker. “Do a good job and let things fall where they may after that. You’re not necessarily looking for your next job.”
Brian and wife Bree, who met while working with the Nationals, are the parents of twin girls. Bree Parker works in human resources with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But all the gadgets are no good if the data they provide can’t be understood by coaches and players or used is effective ways.
With that in mind, Carlton recruited smart students to be part of the Shelbyville Sabermetrics department. So far there’s juniors Christian DeRolf and Austin Perry and senior Eric Santiago.
“We wanted to squeeze as much baseball out of our players as we possibly could,” says Carlton, a graduate of Morristown Junior/High School (2010) and the University of Indianapolis (2014) who is entering his third season at Shelbyville in 2020. “I saw a couple of college Twitter accounts where they had an analytics team or sabermetrics department.
“I’ve never heard of this done at the high school level so let’s give it a shot.”
The sabermetrics team, which was formed in September, is comprised of students near the top of their class.
“They’re real interested in the game of baseball,” says Carlton. “They may not have the ability to play but they still love the sport. This gives them a chance to help out and be part of the team. They’re just as important as my players as far as I’m concerned.”
DeRolf expresses his excitement about mining the data for information that can help his schoolmates.
“There’s such an opportunity to quantify absolutely everything,” says DeRolf, who sees himself going to college for information systems/computer science and continuing to apply his knowledge to baseball. “It’s not easy to change somebody’s behavior and see that there might be somebody better than what they’re doing.
“But there’s nothing wrong with being able to tweak things. Once they see how this helps, they tend to trust you. The trust is the hardest part to build.”
Santiago was invited to join the sabermetrics team by DeRolf. Before he goes to college to pursue a finance degree, Santiago will crunch the numbers to help the baseball team.
As the Golden Bears work out this winter, they will all be figuring out the best practices.
“It’s a learning process,” says Santiago. “Nobody’s an expert. Everybody is going to learn together.
“We’ll focus on basics and fix small things so we can go onto bigger things.”
Driveline EDGE helps with pitch design. Driveline TRAQ allows for individualized practice plans for each player (who will bring iPads to practice during the off-season to focus on their specific needs). Sensors on bar bells check to see that players are strong and moving in an explosive way.
“It’s not a cookie-cutter approach,” says Carlton. “One reason we got the 4D Motion 3D motion capturing system is slow-motion video can lie. You have clothes on. It hides things. To really be able to see the kinematic sequence for the right order of each body part firing, we had to get the sensors. I didn’t want to teach my guys something I saw on video that might actually be wrong.”
Prior to the next IHSAA Limited Contact Period (which began Dec. 9), Carlton tested the system by taking cuts himself.
“My video looked good, but when I went to the sensors my chest was actually firing before my pelvis,” says Carlton. “So I worked on changing that, where my pelvis would fire before my chest. I added 5 mph on to my bat speed just within a 20-minute session.”
Carlton, who is also the head strength and conditioning coach at Shelbyville, says there is a dynamic in athletics of “feel vs. real” and technology can help with that.
“Now, we can match the real with the feel instead of just guessing,” says Carlton. “A lot of it has been guessing up to this point.
“We can really bridge that gap.”
There’s also a learning curve for coaches.
“Technology’s just blowing up in baseball. Coaches don’t understand how to interpret. They get all these numbers. But what good do the numbers do unless you actually know how to transfer it to high school kids’ minds?
“That can be a chore.”
Carlton says the Golden Bears will be filming every single hitting, pitching and fielding rep through the iPads for analyzation.
“It’s going to be kind of weird having every single player with technology,” says Carlton “It kind of hurts me inside. I’ve still got a little bit of old school in me.
“Most of the people on my coaching staff thought I was crazy,” says Carlton. “Most of the teams we played thought I was crazy. But it 100 percent worked for us. Most high school hitters kind of struggle to hit the outside pitches and we’d groove them pitch inside and they’d pull it right into our shift.
“I don’t have any flame throwers. No one who throws over 85 (mph). We had to be really crafty, do the shifts and pitch locations really worked.
“Some didn’t like it, but you’ve got to win.”
Maverick Alexander, one of Carlton’s assistant coaches, does a lot of digging in places like GameChanger and uses historical data against an opponent to put together spray charts to be employed in shifting game plans.
“He puts together a probability packet for us that we go off from batter to batter,” says Carlton, who also counts Mike Jackson, Chase McColley, Jacob Shively and Nate Stonebraker among his assistants. “I think we only got burnt twice all season by shifting and we probably shifted at least 50 percent of the time.
“(My assistants) are all smart. They see what the pro level is doing. We’re at the high school level, but there are still applications we can take. The pros wouldn’t do it if it didn’t win games for them. It’s a money game up there.”
Alexander’s day job is making maps for the State of Indiana. He uses his skills with Excel, Word and data analysis gathered in 2018 and 2019 to produce reports on Shelbyville opponents.
“We hope to be here a long time. It can be a long-term plan,” says Alexander. “If we see a player as a freshman, by the time they are juniors or seniors we’ll be able to see those trends more clearly.”
If possible, players go over Alexander’s pamphlet in practice the day before a game to learn about opponent tendencies and then can go to it during the contest.
“It’s definitely important for pitchers and catchersto know game plan for each inning,” says Alexander.
Carlton has enjoyed watching the way the athletes have taken to the approach.
“It’s neat,” says Carlton. “The players buy into it. They make it their own.”
“We do a lot of the (Driveline) command ball stuff — the oversized and undersized balls and weighted balls.”
Since Carlton arrived (he was formerly head baseball coach at Morristown and Attica), two teams — varsity and junior varsity — have been representing the school with 26 to 28 total players.
Blending the new with the old, Carlton also has plans to honor Shelbyville’s baseball past this spring when his team takes the field in throwback jerseys and limited edition hats from a time when the school’s mascot was the Camels.
“I’m trying to find some neat things to do during the spring to get some people out to enjoy the game and teach the guys a little about the history of baseball,” says Carlton, who has consulted with former Shelbyville head coach and history buff Scott Hughes, old school yearbooks and the local historical society. “Back when the game was super-pure.”
Royce Carlton is entering his third season as head baseball coach at Shelbyville (Ind.) High School in 2020.
Hardy teaches his youngsters how to play the game. But the teaching and the mentoring to does not end with a game or practice.
“I’m very involved with the boys,” says Hardy. “I’m not just a coach between the lines. I’m their coach all the time.
“I’ll help in any way.”
Hardy has his own remodeling business and he has some of his players help with cleaning up job sites, painting, drywalling and other handy skills.
“It keeps them out of trouble,” says Hardy. “We’re constantly stressing the importance of being a good person.
“It’s God, family, baseball and the classroom. It’s the total package.”
For players wishing to go to college, he will do what he can to make that happen.
“I’ll help in getting them tutoring,” says Hardy. “We stress the student-athlete.”
Former major league pitcher Justin Masterson, who lives in Fishers, Ind., came by practice last week to talk about faith, family and baseball with the IPA crew.
Hardy has watched his players come so far in the time he has been at Irvington Prep.
“Now that my (original class of) freshmen are juniors, I’m seeing a pay-off,” says Hardy. “That’s my satisfaction.
“That’s a W in my book.”
The inner-city high schools in Indy include Indianapolis Public SchoolsArsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks, Shortridge and Washington. Besides Irvington Prep, others include Herron, Howe, Manual, Providence Cristo Rey, Purdue Poly and Tindley. This spring, Howe and Washington did not field a baseball team.
What is now known as Irvington Prep Academy opened in 2006 as Irvington Community High School. The original location was on East Pleasant Parkway and is now home to Irvington Community Middle School on East Pleasant Run Parkway. IPA is housed in the former Children’s Guardian Home on University Avenue.
Baseball and softball teams play about three miles away in Irvington Park on Raymond Street.
Before landing at Irvington Prep, Hardy was an assistant to Jerry Giust at Broad Ripple.
The IPA Ravens went against the Broad Ripple Rockets a couple times before the latter IPS high school was closed.
Giust was the one who suggested that Hardy look into becoming a head coach.
“He knew I had been around the game for a long time and saw the enthusiasm I approach the game with and my knowledge,” says Hardy of Giust. “I loved him for it.”
Hardy graduated from Broad Ripple in 1997 after moving from South Bend, where he grew up. He went to South Bend Washington High School for three years and was drawn to swimming to fight his asthma. He was also drawn to baseball. He competed in summer ball before leaving for Indianapolis. Washington’s varsity and junior varsity both won summer titles.
“I loved the way the game was broken down,” says Hardy, who played as a sophomore and junior in a program then led by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Ric Tomaszewski, who learned much from South Bend coaching legends like Jim Reinebold and Len Buczkowski and LaPorte’s Ken Schreiber.
“The knowledge T gave us was phenomenal,” says Hardy. “He told us everybody has a job to do.”
Players at each position were supposed to know the duties of the other players on the diamond.
Rain in the first half of the season means IPA will be trying to make up many games leading up to the postseason.
The Ravens are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Eastern Hancock, Heritage Christian, Indianapolis Howe, Indianapolis Scecina Memorial, Knightstown and Triton Central. Irvington Prep has been competing in the tournament since 2013 and has not won a sectional title.
Hardy and fiancee Sandi have been together for seven years. They have one child together — Isaiah. He has three other children (Josiah, Iyanah and Ariyana) and she has two (Sylvanna and Gianna). Josiah plans to play baseball next year at Herron.
Davon Hardy (foreground) is the head baseball coach at Irvington Preparatory Academy in Indianapolis.
Former major league pitcher Justin Masterson delivers the baseball during an Irvington Prep Academy practice.
Former major leaguer Justin Masterson visited coach Davon Hardy and his Irvington Prep Academy baseball team to talk about faith, family and the game.
Foga is a football assistant and is entering his second season head baseball coach for the Cougars in 2019.
“South Decatur has been a football school for years,” says Foga. “The interest in baseball at South is not as high as I would like it.”
“Within my first two years, I’ve received a lot of support from parents, administrators and players,” says Foga, who is also in his fourth year as a fine arts and digital design teacher. “We’ve tried to implement a lot of things they were not used to. It’s made that process of who’s in charge and how it’s run much smoother than I’ve expected.
“I’ve gotten buy-in from the kids.”
South Decatur, located 13 miles southwest of Greensburg, plays its game on its campus located along Indiana 3.
That field has been re-edged. Dirt and field conditioner have been added and it’s been rolled to get truer ground balls.
A long-term project is replacing fencing.
“We’re making small improvements every year,” says Foga.
Conference teams play each other twice in home-and-home series, usually on back-to-back days.
The Cougars are in an IHSAA sectional grouping with Hauser, Jac-Cen-Del, North Decatur, Oldenburg Academy and Rising Sun. Jac-Cen-Del has lights and has been the host site in recent years. South Decatur won its two sectional championships in 1972 and 1976.
Foga says 26 boys have signed up for tryouts and 16 will be kept for a varsity-only season. As is the case at most small schools, pitching is at a premium.
“Everybody that plays starts out pitching,” says Foga. “Of our potential roster, 10 to 12 guys will pitch for us throughout the year.”
Foga, who is assisted by Anthony Jarvis, Ben Vanderbur and Joe Storm, says his team has benefitted from the new IHSAA limited contact rules (two days of baseball activity two days a week during certain periods).
“Not having a true feeder system in place, it has allowed me to get in the gym and work on those fundamentals early,” says Foga. “We can keep moving and progressing forward.”
The start of spring break at South Decatur coincides with the first official day of practice (March 11).
“Kids will practicing on spring break to be able to hit their (IHSAA) practice count before the season begins,” says Foga.
To create a feeder, a junior high baseball club is starting this spring. Games will be played against many of the schools in the Mid-Hoosier Conference.
There is a local youth league, but it does not play by high school rules. There is no leading off etc. That’s why the junior high program was started.
Foga sees players on his squad with the potential to play college baseball, including senior center fielder Nolan Storm (Joe Storm’s son), senior right-handed pitcher/shortstop/third baseman Brogan Howard, junior catcher/outfielder/first baseman Charlie Frensemeier and right-hander/outfielder Riley Peele.
“The huge thing I learned from him the idea of structure,” says Foga of Howe. “It allows you to focus on what needs to happen and fundamentals.
“He’d tell us that everybody not he team had potential to play at the collegiate level. But potential doesn’t mean anything unless you are able to work for it. I’ve applied that to general life experiences.”
Foga was 5-foot-5 and 125 pounds in high school.
Jennings County football coach Jerry Bland told him not to make that a deal-breaker.
“Coach Bland really pushed me to look past my size and not let that hold me back,” says Foga. “I could take on any challenge.”
He remembers wrestling coach Howard Jones more for what he did off the mat than on it.
“He approached sports in general and coaching almost as a father figure,” says Foga. “He really looked out for the best interests of every kid on the team.
“He wanted you to really strive for what we want in life. He was a really good mentor for all aspects of life.
“I really try to implement that here at South. I want to be a mentor to them, guide them through life’s issues and be a positive role model. A lot of kids we have don’t have that in place.”
In football, Foga has assisted former South Decatur head coach Garry Sauley and was at the junior high level when Tony Bell was varsity head coach.
“For (Sauley), it was always trying to do the right thing and always taking the higher path no matter what the situation was,” says Foga. “(Bell) was passionate about football. He talked about having a passion for something and pushing it.”
Foga, a 2011 graduate of Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, is married to Tiffany with five boys — Roman (11), Drake (10), Ayden (9), Hudson (7) and Grayson (5). They are all involved in hockey or soccer. Baby No. 6 is due in July.
Eric Foga is head baseball coach at South Decatur Junior/Senior High School near Westport, Ind.
Head coach Eric Foga with his South Decatur Junior/Senior High School baseball team.
“The kids have bought into what we’re trying to do as a program,” says Estep, the head coach that has his Trailblazers (27-6) meetings Tecumseh (20-9) in the IHSAA Class 1A Plainfield Semistate at 1 p.m. EST Saturday, June 9. “When we run out on to the field we can play with anybody.”
What is the root that confidence?
“It’s how we’ve structured practices,” says Estep. “We make practices run faster.”
In practices — and games — University pushes the limits on offensive and defense.
“We want to be very, very aggressive,” says Estep. “The last thing we want to see is a kid afraid to make a mistake. The more aggressive you are, the more chance you’ll have to make aggressive plays.
“You can not expect a kid to make a great play if they don’t practice making great plays.”
Estep, who is supported by assistants Reid Andrews, Michael Thompson and Steve Nerney and athletic director John Walls, points to the regional to show how his players are prepared deal with misfortune on the diamond.
The Trailblazers were up 2-0 in the semifinals against Indianapolis Lutheran only to find themselves down 4-3 in the next inning. They came back with a 9-4 victory.
The championship game was tied 0-0 going into the seventh inning. Estep saw a pinch-hitter foul off pitches to get to a full count and University went on to score three runs in the top of the frame and then hold Hauser for a 3-0 win and the regional crown.
“If you can’t handle adversity, you can’t be a champion,” says Estep. “We put them into as many adverse situations as we can and ask them to go out and make a play.
“You never know when it’s going to be your time and you better be ready to answer the bell.”
The aim is to play as close to flawless as possible and make up for any mistakes that do happen.
“There’s really no such thing as a perfect game,” says Estep. “But if we try, we will give ourselves the opportunity to win.”
There are 18 players in the program in 2018.
University is a member of the Pioneer Conference (along with baseball-playing schools Anderson Preparatory Academy, Bethesda Christian in Brownsburg, Greenwood Christian, Indianapolis Shortridge, Liberty Christian in Anderson, Muncie Burris and Seton Catholic in Richmond). The Traliblazers went 7-0 this spring to win the conference title.
Hill, junior shortstop Dawson Estep (the coach’s son), Moore, freshman left fielder and senior center fielder Ryan Williams (committed to Morehouse College in Atlanta) are among the Trailblazers’ leading hitters.
Coach Estep calls No. 9 hitter Williams “a major catalyst” with “speed to burn.”
Estep watched junior catcher Kolton Stevens fight through hot conditions to shine in the regional.
“He caught best two games I’ve ever seen a kid catch,” says Estep. “I can’t tell you how balls he blocked.
“Nobody ever notices that position until there is a mistake.
“He was absolutely phenomenal.”
It’s phenomenal plays or games that earns players the right to wear the “U chain”.
“Miami’s ‘The U’ and we’re the ‘The U,’” says Estep. “It’s been (Andrews’) baby. He hangs the ‘U chain’ on the fence before games. He awards it to a kid and pictures are taken. Kids are excited for whoever gets the ‘U chain.’”
Also for the second year, the “U” took a southern trip at the beginning of the season. The Traliblazers played in Tennessee.
The squad got away and spent quality time together at the ballpark and the breakfast table.
“It’s really important for team camaraderie,” says Estep. “We went and played four games then released them to spring break. When they came back, we got back to work.”
Estep, 51, has been working as a baseball instructor for decades. His Roundtripper Sports Academy in Westfield is coming up in 25 years.
“It found me out more than I found it,” says Estep.
He grew up on the east side of Indianapolis and played wiffleball, basketball and football and, of course, baseball. Organized ball came at Christian Park, where he played for John Gannon.
“He was the greatest youth coach in the history of Little League,” says Estep of Gannon, who is expected to be at Saturday’s semistate. “He’s a legend. “He made sure we all stayed out of trouble. He was an unbelievable mentor to kids.”
While he was still a professional player, he was approached by a parent about giving lessons to one of their sons. They were impressed enough to bring another son to him. Before you knew it, Estep had a long list of students and less and less time to work out himself.
“Even though I didn’t hit very well, I understood the processes for hitting and defense,” says Estep, who now sees to the needs of many baseball and softball players. “The girls are quicker learners and they’ll do whatever they tell them. The boys will fight you on it.”
Extra-busy giving lessons and running the Indiana Mustangs travel organization, Estep put up a fight when he was approached repeated by a former University administrator a decade ago.
“He would not leave me alone,” says Estep. “He said, ‘If you don’t do it, these kids can’t play.’ That got me. I called my wife and begged for forgiveness that I took on another job.
When we first started I couldn’t have weekend games because of the workload. The school made it work. Now we play every weekend. The program’s worth it. I’m willing to pay a little extra price — my family is, too, though my wife doesn’t like me very well.”
Besides Dawson, Chris and Sue Estep have an older son (Chandler, who plays football at Elon University in North Carolina) and a younger daughter (Jasmine, a talented athlete who is headed into the ninth grade).
For Estep to be close to his business, University began playing its home games at Roundtripper and still does.
His first team was overmatched. The first game was a 32-0 loss.
“They were the the kids that always got chosen last,” says Estep. “But that team set the standard. This is where we built from. This present team has an attitude that they’re going to fight you to the bitter end.
“It was a clerical/addition error,” says Estep. “(Scecina coaches) thought they were taking a kid out on 119 pitches for two games.
“There was no malice there. Now the kid is going to be penalized.”
If Estep had his way, pitch counts would be tracked in an official book in the press box and not with the home team. The scorekeeper would let the teams and umpires know how many pitches a player had going into the next game. When they got to 110, the coaches would be alerted.
“It should be a drop-dead (when the limit is reached),” says Estep. “You stop and make a pitching change.”
University High School head coach Chris Estep wears the “U chain” and assistant Reid Andrews holds the cake celebrating Estep’s 100th career win with the Trailblazers.
University High School won the IHSAA Class 1A University Sectional and Morristown Regional and will play Saturday, June 9 in the Plainfield Sectional. Chris Estep is the head coach of the Trailblazers.