As winter has turned to spring, the hottest college baseball programs in the state — based on current win streaks — are at Taylor, Indiana University Southeast, Marian, Indianapolis and Indiana Wesleyan.
Among NAIA squads, there’s the Taylor Trojans (21-6) with 14 straight wins, IU Southeast Grenadiers (17-11) and Marian Knights (15-8) with eight each and Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (21-8) with five. NCAA D-II’s UIndy Greyhounds (7-7) have six straight triumphs (including a 4-0 weekend series vs. Truman).
Among regulars, Conner Crawford (.357 with three home runs) paces the Taylor offense. Anderson High School graduate Joe Moran (5-2, 2.45 earned run average) is the Trojans’ top moundsman.
Brody Tanksley (.392 with seven homers) leads IU Southeast batters. Drew Hensley (4-2) is tops in pitching wins. Both are Bedford North Lawrence alums.
Taylor (4-0 vs. Mount Vernon Nazarene), IU Southeast (3-0 at Ohio Christian), Marian (2-0 vs. Spring Arbor), UIndy (4-0 vs. Truman) and Indiana Wesleyan (4-0 at Goshen) are all coming off weekend series wins as are NAIA members Oakland City (11-11) 3-0 vs. Rio Grande and NCAA D-II’s Purdue Northwest (6-3) 3-0 vs. Wisconsin Parkside.
NCAA D-I series victors included Indiana State (11-6) 3-1 at Alabama-Birmingham, Indiana (9-2) 2-1 vs. Purdue, Notre Dame (9-3) 2-1 vs. Duke, Ball State (9-8) 3-1 vs. Western Michigan, Evansville (9-10) 2-1 at Butler and Purdue Fort Wayne (7-8) 3-1 vs. Oakland.
Max Wright is hitting .339 with four homers for Indiana State. Geremy Guerrero (4-0, 1.14) has been the Sycamores’ top pitcher.
Evansville Memorial graduate Drew Ashley (.395) and Carmel alum Tommy Sommer (2-0, 1.40) are among those who have shined for Indiana.
Through hills and valleys, the right-handed pitcher persisted and persevered until he finally stood on a major league mound at 28 and its those kind of lessons he passes along to the next generation with his baseball/softball business — Demand Command.
McClellan, who stands 6-foot-5, earned three letters at Indiana University (1998, 1999 and 2000). He pitched in 41 games, starting 22 with five complete games and one save. In 159 1/3 innings, he posted 111 strikeouts and a 4.58 earned run average while playing for Hoosiers head coach Bob Morgan — a man he credits as much for what he did in stressing education as what he did between the white lines.
Long before that McClellan started giving back. He started the Zach McClellan School of Pitching in Bloomington, Ind., in 2002.
Zach and future wife Sarah met at IU. She is from nearby Ellettsville, Ind., and a graduate of Edgewood High School.
During his pro off-seasons, Zach was a student teacher during the day and gave lessons at night during his off-season.
With the growth of the business, McClellan began looking for a new name and a suggestion came from one of his pupils who noted how he was constantly telling them, “Don’t just accept control, demand command.”
McClellan says the difference between control and command is that with control you can throw to a general area and command is being able to execute your pitches to the catcher.
The two main aspects of pitching as McClellan sees them are how hard you throw and can you locate it. In other words: Velocity and command.
“I try to marry those two things,” says McClellan, who notes that location becomes very important when it comes to getting good hitters out.
Believing that training should be fun and challenging, McClellan began getting his young pitchers to play H-O-R-S-E baseball style.
While in the basketball version, a player has to replicate a made shot or take a letter, McClellan’s baseball variation requires one pitcher to execute a pitch — say a fastball to the outside corner — and have the next one up replicate that or take a letter.
The first Demand Command T-shirts McClellan ever had made asked: “Can you play H-O-R-S-E on the mound?”
“It was an inside joke between the instructed kids, myself and their parents,” says McClellan. “People would ask the question about what it meant.
“We were doing something kind of unique and kids were actually executing pitches. What I’ve noticed through the years is that if they have to call the pitch, it’s even better. Now they’re not just throwing a ball in the generally vicinity.”
McClellan never wants training to be drudgery for his players.
“If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing it becomes more of a job,” says McClellan. “It’s not a job, it’s an opportunity. It’s fun. If you’re going to come to me it’s not going to feel like work.
“You have to make sure that the kids are enjoying what they’re doing, but learning at the same time.”
Since he began offering instruction, McClellan has preferred small-group lessons of three of four players.
“I say make sure kids aren’t just doing solo private lessons,” says McClellan. “A lot of parents want their kids to work one-on-one with a coach, but when they go on a field they have eight other teammates.
“At the end of the day there’s nobody behind the mound holding your hand and telling you how to correct yourself in a game. You have to have a feel on the adjustments you’re making.”
Every now and then, McClellan likes to match 17-year-old prospect with an 8-year-old learning how to pitch.
“The 17-year-old learns how to teach,” says McClellan. “The more you learn how to teach the better you get at your craft.
“(The teen is) learning how other people receive the information which makes them more receptive of the information.”
Now that he has been at it this long, another McClellan goal is coming to fruition.
“I’ve always wanted to create a community of baseball players that became future leaders,” says McClellan. “Kids that played for me or took lessons from me are now coming back to be coaches for me.”
Matt McClellan played at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., and pitched in the Toronto Blue Jays organization (Toronto selected the right-hander in the seventh round of the 1997 MLB Draft) and for the independent Newark (N.J.) Bears and Kansas City (Kan.) T-Bones.
The DC website states the mission: “Demand Command was built on the principles that baseball and softball are teaching mechanisms for more than just the games.
Baseball and Softball have many life lessons within the games. Some examples are leadership, hard work, determination, discipline, working together with many types of people, dealing with success and failure and good character.
“The goal is to teach people the value of Demand Command life principles through baseball and softball. Demand Command stands for much more than commanding pitches or at bats. Demand Command is a way of life.”
Numerous DC alums have gone on to college and pro baseball. Among them is Dylan Stutsman, who pitched at the University of Indianapolis and then pitched for the independent Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers.
Former Texas Rangers draft pick Renton Poole is now a senior pitcher at Indiana University Kokomo.
Zach and Sarah McClellan live in Columbus and have three athletic daughters — Mia (14), Miley (12) and Emery (10).
The McClellan brothers — Jeff (46), Matt (44) and Zach (42 on Nov. 25) — are the offspring of former college athletes.
Father Dave a basketball player at the University of Michigan and Mother Diane a track and field athlete at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University.
Jeff played baseball at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.
Zach’s nephew, Sebastian McClellan, is a freshman basketball guard at Lawrence Technical University in Southfield, Mich. Niece Mallory McClellan recently signed a letter of intent to play softball at Fordham University in New York.
Born in Macomb, Mich., Riedel moved to Tennessee around 10 and played at Cookeville for Butch Chaffin.
“He was very much a mental coach,” says Riedel of Chaffin, who mentored the Cavaliers to a 36-2-1 record and a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association AAA regional title in Riedel’s senior year of 2013. “You need to be mentally tough or you won’t be physically tough.”
Cookesville was put out of the tournament by future major league left-handed pitcher Justus Sheffield and his Tullahoma team.
Riedel (rhymes with needle) appreciated the testimonials from big leaguers that related to specific aspects of mental toughness.
After taking a year away from the diamond, Riedel began his two-year junior college experience at Jackson College. Rick Smith was — and still is — the Jets head coach.
“He knew the game better than anyone I had been around to that point,” says Riedel of Smith. “For a lot of the guys he was hard to understand. I got it right away. We had a really good connection. He expectations for me and I had expectations for myself.
“I probably went above those and that’s what he and I were hoping for.”
“At the junior college level, it was different,” says Riedel. “Our coaches really expected us to better ourselves.”
Players had essentially unlimited access to practice facilities to get in work on their own time.
“It was very much do-it-yourself,” says Riedel. “That helped me going to the Division I level.”
In the fall of 2016, Riedel signed to play at Oakland (Mich.) University, but a coaching change led him to forego that opportunity.
Chris Fetter, then a Ball State assistant (and now pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers), brought Riedel to Muncie, Ind., for a visit and he soon signed with the Cardinals and went on to enjoy his time around head coach Rich Maloney and assistants Scott French and Dustin Glant.
“Having that connection calms you down and lets you relax,” says Riedel. “Coach Maloney was very passionate about the game. He was very intense.
“What really struck me with him on my visit was that he was very personable. He was very genuine. He told me what he expected out of me. He was very upfront.”
It also got Riedel’s attention that Alex Call was selected in the third round of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox.
“I knew Alex signed (at Ball State) for a reason,” says Riedel. “I wanted to see what that was all about.”
“I will never forget that day,” says Riedel, who batted in the No. 3 hole in the 20-8 Ball State victory. “I always knew how it was going to go based on my first at-bat. If I was seeing the ball well, I knew it was going to be a good day.”
After sharply grounding out to the shortstop in the first inning, Riedel socked two-baggers to left center in the third, center in the fourth, right center in the fifth, down the third base line in the sixth and to left center in the seventh and final frame.
“The thing I enjoyed about coaching was the connection you made with the players,” says Riedel, now 26. “They came to play for you. They had respect for you and you had respect for them.
“The best coaches I played for, I had respect for them as a coach and had a personal connection with them. It relaxed me more.”
While COVID-19 restrictions have interrupted work, Riedel and wife Kayla got to spend extra time with daughter Nora shortly after her birth in Nora in March. The couple that calls Battle Creek, Mich., home welcomed son Wyatt in February 2018.
Undrafted after four seasons at Oakland (2013-16), Brosseau made it to the Double-A level in his third professional season in 2018.
Playing mostly third base, the righty swinger hit .262 with 13 home runs, three triples, 24 doubles and 61 runs batted in over 104 games for the Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits. Montgomery went 79-61 and made the Southern League playoffs.
Using advice from former Oakland head coach John Musachio, Brosseau did his best to “slow the game down” while doing what he could to contribute.
“(Musachio) talked about playing the specific game you have and getting in the lineup and helping the team out,” says Brosseau, 24. “People let the moment and pressure get to them too much. I want to just be able to stay within my game and not let the outside factors effect it.
“It’s about letting my abilities do the best for me. I’m a guy that’s going compete for you. I’m going to find a way to do what I can to help the team win.”
A shortstop for Musachio at Oakland, where he made 183 starts, Brosseau hit .308 with 19 homers, three triples, 39 doubles and 104 RBIs for his Golden Grizzlies days. He was a first-team all-Horizon League selection in 2014 and 2016.
“I got close to him really fast in my career,” says Brosseau of Musachio. “He’s a genuine, good human being. He cares for his family, team and university.
“It was a blessing to play for him for four years.”
At Andrean, Brosseau was a contributor for 59er teams coached by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dave Pishkur.
“Coach Pishkur is one of those guys who connects to his players,” says Brosseau. “He was instrumental in my development process — both in baseball and as a human.”
Mike Brosseau, a graduate of Andrean High School in Merrillville, Ind., and Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Mich., played for the Double-A Montgomery (Ala.) Biscuits in the Tampa Bay Rays organization in 2018. (Montgomery Biscuits Photo)
Mike Brosseau, who graduated from Andrean High School and Oakland University, is an infielder in the Tampa Bay Rays system. (Donten Photography)
The 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Series is in the books.
Despite wet weather in South Bend, Ind., many of the best players from around the state got a chance to show what they can do on the diamond — first with the annual Junior Showcase Friday, July 21 and then the recent graduates took to Four Winds Field for three games following a Friday night banquet featuring keynote speaker Greg Kloosterman and the announcement of Roncalli’s Nick Schnell as IHSBCA Player of the Year.
A scheduled doubleheader Saturday became a rain-shortened game. That led to a 9 a.m. Sunday doubleheader.
Declaring, “This ones for you Grandpa!!” on Twitter, Fort Wayne Carroll’s Hayden Jones went out and took MVP honors for the North/South Series in memory of a Bill Jones.
The North coaching staff was head coach Steve Stutsman (Elkhart Central) plus assistants Steve Asbury (Elkhart Central), Shane Edwards (Oak Hill), John Huemmer (Mishawaka) and Lonnie Weatherholt (Elkhart Central).
Umpires were Tony Gaugler, Bob Lichtenberger, Jay Miller and Corey Stewart in Game 1, Mike Alberts, Terry Baker, Kevin Kirsch and Eric Erb in Game 2 and Laird Salmon, Zach Sliwa, Bob Schellinger and Steve Kajzer in Game 2.
The 45th North/South Series is planned for one week after the IHSAA State Finals in Madison, Ind.
Scorekeepers: Bill & Sue Forgey of Huntington, Ind.
Commemorative plague for founder Jim Reinebold at 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
Commemorative plague for founder Ken Schreiber at 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
Elkhart Central and North head coach Steve Stutsman makes his parting remarks at 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)
Making out the Game 3 lineup for Game 3 of the 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend are (from left): New Palestine’s Shawn Lyons, Decatur Central’s Jacob Combs, Castle’s Curt Welch and Lanesville’s Zach Payne. (Steve Krah Photo)
A T-shirt to commemorate the 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South Series in South Bend. (Steve Krah Photo)