By STEVE KRAH
Buying into the multi-sport athlete idea and feeding off the success of other sports, the LaVille Lancers is enjoying a stellar 2018 season under fourth-year head coach Brian Lawler.
Heading into a home game Friday, May 18 against John Glenn, the Lancers are 20-2.
LaVille ran the table in the Hoosier North Athletic Conference, going 14-0. Pioneer (10-4) was second, followed by Knox (8-6), Winamac (7-6), North Judson (7-7), Triton (5-9), Caston (4-9) and Culver Community (0-14). Winamac is to visit Caston in the final HNAC game Friday, May 18.
“We’re a small school,” says Lawler, who coaches and teaches physical education in a LaVille Junior/Senior High building with around 350 students in the top four grades. “We believe in sharing athletes and providing opportunities for kids all year-round.
“We want to give them the best experience they can.”
Athletic director/head football coach Will Hostrawser leads a staff which coordinates their summer workouts so athletes can attend sessions in multiple sports.
Hostrawser has a baseball coaching background.
“He lets all his coaches coach,” says Lawler of Hostrawser. “But he’s always there if we want to pick his brain about something.”
As for success breeding success, two examples come in football and boys basketball. The Lancers went 8-5 on the gridiron last fall and 23-1 on the hardwood last winter.
The past four years, LaVille is 35-14 in football and 76-24 in boys basketball under head coach Michael Edison. Corey Duncan’s girls basketball squad was 16-8 in 2017-18.
Before playing baseball at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University and earning his teaching degree at Bethel College, Lawler was a football and baseball athlete at South Bend St. Joseph High School. He graduated in 1999.
Before coming to LaVille, Lawler was a St. Joseph assistant for eight seasons on the staff of John Gumpf.
What does being a multi-sport athlete mean to him?
“Competing throughout the year and learning lessons from different coaches,” says Lawler. “It’s about being coachable and that translates into whatever sport that kid is doing at the time.”
The HNAC plays home-and-home two-game series with some doubleheaders, making it extra important to develop pitching depth.
“It forces you not the see that No. 1 twice,” says Lawler, who is assisted by Mark Elliot, Scott Wierczorek and Bryce Bustamante. “And with the 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) and our small roster (there’s 15 players in the program for a varsity and junior varsity schedule), we need to get as many pitchers as we can.”
The 2017 Lancers went 20-7 and graduated some quality senior pitchers. The current team has just one senior — first baseman Tyler Hollon. There is also a good mix of juniors, sophomores and a few freshmen.
Lawler counts catcher Reese Gallup and left-handed pitcher/outfielder Devon Schoff among the junior standouts and third baseman Jimmy Fischer, first baseman Isaiah Herbster, right-hander/outfielder Nick Moore and shortstop/right-hander Connor Wieczorek as some of the top sophomores.
LaVille plays its home games on its campus near Lakeville though it does have access to nearby Newton Park should field conditions call for a change of venue.
The Lancers’ non-conference schedule includes Argos, Bethany Christian, Bremen, Culver Military, Jimtown, John Glenn, Oregon-Davis, Rochester, South Bend Adams and South Central.
LaVille is in the IHSAA Class 2A Westview Sectional along with Bremen, Central Noble, Eastside, Prairie Heights and Westview. The Lancers have won three sectional baseball titles (1968, 1974, 1991).
Lawler and wife Sara reside in South Bend.
LaVille Junior/Senior High School baseball coach Brian Lawler (right) poses with lone 2018 senior Tyler Hollon. The Lancers have reached the 20-win plateau again this spring.