By STEVE KRAH
A 2004 graduate of the school in Bartholomew County, Long is carrying on the way Jerry Schoen led the program for two decades.
After a season leading the Cincinnati Flames travel team, Long was a varsity assistant to Schoen for five seasons before taking over the Jets for the 2017 season. He had been a manager and a player for Schoen before going to college.
“Day in and day out, we’re making kids accountable,” says Long, who was an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state third baseman in 2004. “It’s about making kids get from start to finish.
“We’re focusing on the little things that are very important in the game of baseball.”
Among those things are always hustling on and off the field, running out every batted ball and improving through tee work, short-hop drills and more.
The approach had Hauser off to an 8-2 start in 2018 and a No. 1 ranking among IHSAA Class 1A baseball teams.
The recognition may bring more fans to the ballpark, which is appreciated, but Long is not placing too much stock in the polls.
“We have great community backing here,” says Long. “We don’t talk about rankings. It’s way too early to buy into that ranking. There’s a lot of baseball to be played.”
Hauser, located in Hope, Ind., is a member of the Mid-Hoosier Conference (along with 3A’s Indian Creek and 1A’s Edinburgh, Morristown, North Decatur, South Decatur, Southwestern of Shelbyville and Waldron).
Each team plays 12 conference games. The MHC stages home-and-home series on Thursdays and Fridays.
Long, who was a pitcher at Hauser and for four years at the College of Mt. St. Joseph in Cincinnati (now known as Mt. St. Joseph University), sets his pitching rotation around conference games.
“There’s pitchers and then there’s throwers in my mind,” says Long, who joins with Mike Flack (seventh year in the program) and Doug Johnson (second year in the program) to guide a group of 18 players in varsity and junior varsity action. “I try to develop my kids into pitchers.
“Being a small school, we lean on some kids who don’t have a lot of experience on the mound. When we do our pitching and throwing drills, we do it as a whole team. Sometimes we find kids we didn’t know could pitch.”
Long agrees with the parameters of the IHSAA pitch count rules (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).
“The days off amount is right on,” says Long. “As a coaching staff, we do go down the schedule and pick the games we want certain kids to pitch.”
Working with athletic director Ron Hounshell, Long crafts a challenging non-conference schedule.
“The better the competition, the better we’re going to be,” says Long, who already has or will have his squad square off against 4A’s East Central and Shelbyville, 3A’s Batesville, Greensburg and Lawrenceburg, 2A’s Austin, Henryville and Milan and 1A’s Indianapolis Lutheran, Jac-Cen-Del and Trinity Lutheran.
Hauser played in the Shawe Memorial Sectional in 2017 and now finds itself with a slightly different group (including Jac‐Cen‐Del, North Decatur, Oldenburg Academy, Rising Sun and South Decatur). Jac-Cen-Del looks to be the sectional host this year.
The Jets have won four sectional titles (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), four regional crowns (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007) and one semistate championship (2005). The 2005 Jets were 1A state runners-up to Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian.
Hauser, part of Flatrock-Hawcreek School Corporation, plays its games on-campus on property that Schoen helped transform into a fine facility.
So far, wet weather has only taken away one game from the Jets.
“Our field drains fairly well,” says Long. “We’re able to play sometimes when other schools can’t.
“We take pride in our facilities. Our student-athletes work hard keeping it ready to play.”
Hauser’s roster sports four seniors (Jon Hatton, Jacob Johnson, Jordan Johnson and Sam Meek) and five juniors (Kameron Lawson, Jacob Luken, Sean Miller, Aaron Mee and Beau McKinney). Meek plans to play baseball at Bluffton (Ohio) University.
Besides Long at Mt. St. Joseph and Doug Johnson at Kankakee (Ill.) Community College, Hauser has sent number of players on to college over the years. Among them are Michael Shea, Joe Lange and Will Rose at Ancilla College, Jay McNicolas and Tim Munn at Anderson University, Tony Flack, Nathan Bryant, Jared Compton and Jared Schoen at Franklin College, Kyle Lawson, Rory Thayer and Brooks Bailey at Hanover College, Josh Gates at Illinois Valley Community College, Jared Turner at Indiana University Southeast, Jon Shaw at Trine University, Adam Newman and Aryn Ross at the University of Indianapolis, Reid Thayer and Nathan Branum at Vincennes University and Scott Henderson at Wabash Valley College in Illinois.
Henderson swiped a Hauser program-record 91 bases from 1998-91. Ross, who wore a Jets uniform 2003-06, swatted the most home runs (22).
On the mound, Tony Flack (28 from 2001-04) and Lawson (26 from 2004-07) ranked 1-2 in victories. Flack struck out a record 301 batters while Lawson whiffed 286.
Feeding the high school program are Hope Summer Playground, Babe Ruth and various travel ball organizations.
Long is part of a Hope-based family business — Indiana Custom Fabrication. Nathan is the son of John and Lisa Long and older brother of Nick Long.
Nathan and Stephanie Long have three children — daughters Emma (6) and Addison (2) and son Ike (5 months).
Nathan Long, a 2004 Hauser Junior/Senior High School graduate, is in his seventh season as a baseball coach for the Jets in 2018 — the second as head coach.