By STEVE KRAH
Justin Bergman wants to keep the lines of communication open with his Triton Central High School baseball team. He wants his Tigers to set and achieve goals.
To do this, he has set up some systems for his program based in Fairland, Ind.
“We really talk about three types of goals — Process, Performance and Outcome,” says Bergman, who is heading into his fifth season as Triton Central head coach in 2019.
Process goals revolve are controllable concepts such as working hard, attitude, hustle, mechanics and knowing your role.
Performance goals, which can be adjusted from week-to-week, include getting 60 to 65 percent first-pitch strokes, an on-base percentage of .400 or better, scoring eight runs a game, fielding at a .975 clip or better, having 75 percent Quality At-Bats and winning the “freebie war.”
Outcome goals are winning game at a time and ratchet up to being state-ranked, top four in the Indiana Crossroads Conference, winning the conference, sectional, regional, semistate and state titles.
Bergman also puts a lot of stock in evaluation.
“We want them to know their strengths and weaknesses,” says Bergman. “It’s something we as a coaching staff focus on.”
When he was head coach at Ohio Northern University (2006-11), Bergman hired Jeff Mercer (now head coach at Indiana University) as an assistant coach. The two worked out a system for evaluating players.
Justin Parker, now pitching coach at IU, was also on Bergman’s ONU staff.
At Triton Central, Bergman and his assistants meet with each athlete prior to the season to discuss where they rate and help them set goals.
Hitters, infielders, outfielders and catchers are all rated on a 1-to-5 scale in five categories. Pitchers are rated in six areas.
TC coaches look at hitters in terms of average, power, mechanics, approach and knowledge, infielders for hands, range, mechanics, arm strength and knowledge, outfielders for route, mechanics, speed, arm strength and knowledge and catchers for receiving, blocking, knowledge, athletic ability and arm strength. Pitchers are rate for mechanics, arm strength, mound presence, location, off-speed pitch and movement.
Bergman’s 2019 assistants are Travis Hensler, Scott Brown, Scott Lattimer and David Chapman. Hensler is in the paid position and handles hitting, operations and the junior varsity team. Brown is in charge of infielders, Latimer outfielders and Triton Cental graduate Chapman pitchers. Bergman works with catchers and helps with the other areas.
Numbers in the program have fluctuated between 15 and 24. This year, the Tigers have 12 seniors.
Triton Central (enrollment of about 475) plays each conference foe (Beech Grove, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Indianapolis Lutheran, Indianapolis Scecina Memorial, Monrovia, Park Tudor and Speedway) once each, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Working with athletic director Bryan Graham and athletic secretary Barb Guhl, Bergman has built a non-conference schedule featuring Arsenal Tech, Decatur Central, Greenfield-Central, Greenwood, Heritage Christian, Rushville, Shelbyville, South Decatur and Traders Point.
“We really try to play some bigger schools,” says Bergman.
The Tigers are in an IHSAA Class 2A sectional pairing with Eastern Hancock, Heritage Christian, Indianapolis Howe, Indianapolis Scecina Memorial, Irvington Prep Academy and Knightstown. Triton Central has won three sectionals – the last in 2012. Triton Central won a 2A state championship in 2003.
Home games are contested on-campus.
“We’ve done a ton with the facility, painting, cleaning up and edging it,” says Bergman. “We take pride in the presentation of our field.”
Development is aided with the addition of a portable batting tunnel and access to a fieldhouse.
Feeding the high school program is a new Triton Central Middle School team (19 players participated in 2018) as well as Triton Central Tigers 10U and 12U travel teams. The Future Tigers Athletics is active. There is a T-ball league for ages 3-5 (48 kids played in 2018) and coach pitch for ages 6-8 (68 took part in 2018). A 9-10 division is being added for 2019.
There was an FTA Night at an Indianapolis Indians game and the camp last March drew 118.
“The growth and development has taken some time,” says Bergman. “It’s definitely going in the right direction.”
Bergman is a 1997 Rushville Consolidated High School graduate. With the Lions, he played baseball for head coach Jim Bush
“He was always positive,” says Bergman of Bush. “You never heard anything negative from Coach Bush.”
Bergman played football and baseball at Franklin (Ind.) College. He arrived at the school the same years as Lance Marshall, who was his receivers coach in the fall and head baseball coach in the spring. The Grizzlies struggled on the diamond the first spring. By 2001, Franklin was nationally-ranked.
“He showed a toughness and determination in building a program,” says Bergman of Marshall. “It’s the hard work he’s put in on the recruiting path.”
In 2005, Bergman was a full-time coach for Marshall.
“He let you do your thing as an assistant,” says Bergman, who sent Jordan Crouse from Triton Central to Franklin to study and play baseball.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in secondary education from Franklin in 2001, Bergman pursued his masters in business leadership at Manchester College (now Manchester University) and coached the 2002 to 2004 seasons on a Spartans staff headed by Rick Espeset.
“I was very fortunate,” says Bergman. “Espy gave me a ton of responsibility with recruiting, hitting and outfield play.
“Espy is a great leader. He gives suggestions, but he lets his assistants make
make it their own.”
Manchester had talented players during Bergman’s time there and the Spartans qualified for two regionals and the 2004 NCAA Division III World Series.
In the summer of 2002, Bergman was tapped to coach the Fort Wayne-based Indiana Dox collegiate team. Owned by future Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Famer Colin Lister, the Dox went 44-10 and earned a berth in the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series.
Besides coaching, Bergman works as an Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance agent in Shelbyville. Jeremy and wife Amber have two children — son Ty (8) and daughter Avery (4).
The Triton Central Tigers call Fairland in Shelby County, Ind., home.
Justin Bergman has been the head baseball coach at Triton Central High School in Fairland, Ind., since the 2015 season.