Tag Archives: OVC

Southern Indiana making transition to NCAA Division I

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The University of Southern Indiana in Evansville has decided to raise its profile and athletics plays a major part.
The Screaming Eagles have moved from NCAA Division II to Division I and begin competing at that level in 2022-23.
“We’re not a secret anymore,” says Tracy Archuleta, USI’s head baseball coach since the 2007 season. “Once we make that jump to Division I we want everyone to know about it. We want everyone to know how good our nursing program is and how great the Romain business school is and our engineering program along with the great tradition of successful athletics.
“We’re trying to make a big impact across the nation and not just in the tri-state (Indiana-Illinois-Kentucky) area.”
It means that the Pocket City now has two D-I schools — Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville.
Archuleta has spent his whole college baseball career in D-II as a player and a coach. He led Southern Indiana to DII national championships in 2010 and 2014.
But he knows that D-I is at the top of the scale.
“The excitement comes from being able to hold our teams against the best in the country,” says Archuleta.
Part of the transition means hiring the staff to help student-athletes while gradually increasing the number of scholarships.
“We want to hire guys who are familiar with Division I baseball and have had success with it,” says Archuleta.
His current staff includes Nick Gobert, Seth LaRue, volunteer Brice Stuteville and director of player development Deron Spink.
Gobert and Stuteville played at USI. LaRue is a 2011 graduate of Evansville Mater Dei High School who coached at Texas A&M Corpus Christi 2020-22. Spink is a former head coach at Bellarmine University in Louisville.
Southern Indiana is beginning a four-year probationary period. The Screaming Eagles will not be eligible for NCAA tournament play until 2026-27.
NCAA D-I allows for 11.7 baseball scholarships while D-II is capped at 9. USI typically had six to seven.
“Recruiting has a big impact in all sports,” says Archuleta. “You have to be able to sell the university and give the student-athlete an understanding of why USI is a great fit for them.
“The difference now in recruiting is that you see everyone out there working instead of a select few. When you call a kid they have six schools already on them.”
In looking at Southern Indiana’s current roster, Archuleta has a mix of junior college transfers and players right out of high school along with returnees.
Archuleta says the roster will have to be trimmed from 50 to 40 by the spring season.
“The biggest thing for our guys is that they have to be willing to meet the challenge,” says Archuleta. “Some guys will have to step it up a little bit.”
USI plays host to Kent State in a charity exhibition at 2 p.m. Central Time Saturday, Oct. 22.
“I’m excited about what’s ahead for us there,” says Archuleta. “We’ll see where we’re at.”
Formerly a part of the D-II Great Lakes Valley Conference, Southern Indiana now belongs to the Ohio Valley Conference (with Eastern Illinois University, Lindenwood University, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Morehead State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Tennessee State University, Tennessee Technological University and University of Tennessee at Martin).
“There’s tradition there,” says Archuleta of the OVC. “In baseball, the conference is up-and-coming.
“With us, there’s the proximity of all the schools. It’s going to be neat for USI to build up rivals. Fans will be able to travel to road games.”
All but Tennessee Tech (205), Morehead State (260) and Arkansas-Little Rock (409) are inside 200 miles from USI.
SEMO competed in the Louisville Regional in 2022.
D-II is allowed to play 50 games. In 2022, USI played 49 with 28 of those at home.
D-I allows 56 games. Archuleta says he expects the 2023 Screaming Eagles schedule to be released in mid-November.
“Two of our first four weekends are at home (against Oakland and Bellarmine),” says Archuleta. “We have some midweek games at home.
“I think we only have two non-Division I opponents on our schedule.”
USI Baseball Field became the permanent home of the Screaming Eagles in 1974.
The on-campus facility is tree-lined and has lights and seating for about 1,200 with a concession stand, picnic area, press box and restrooms.
There’s also a four-camera replay system — something many D-I school do not possess.
Dimensions are 355 feet down the lines, 375 in the power alleys and 380 to dead center field.
“Our facilities are unbelievable,” says Archuleta. “We have great people who work on it.”
Archuleta can see upgrades coming in the next five-plus years.
“We have a little bit of work to do, but we’re not far away,” says Archuleta.

(University of Southern Indiana Image)

Cardinal Ritter grad Malatestnic grateful for chance with Eastern Illinois U.

By STEVE KRAH
http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Blake Malatestnic’s prep baseball ended with a flourish.
The right-handed pitcher helped Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter to the 2017 IHSAA Class 2A state championship by hurling a complete game in a 10-4 win against Wapahani.
Malatestnic went seven innings and threw 95 pitches while yielding nine hits and four runs (three earned), striking out four and walking one.
He finished the season at 12-1 and was also named as the L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award recipient.
But at 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, he received just one college baseball offer.
That came from Eastern Illinois University.
“Eastern was my only school,” says Malatestnic, 23. “They saw something in a 5-foot-9, 150-pound kid. I was a small kid, but I had quick arm and I competed. (EIU head coach Jason Anderson) took a chance on me.
“It’s something I’m forever thankful for.”
More than five years later — including a pandemic and a major medical procedure — Malatestnic is preparing for one last go-round with the Panthers in 2023.
Now up to a solid 175, Malatestic can look back on three competitive seasons so far. He pitched in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022. The 2021 season was lost when he needed Tommy John (Ulnar Collateral Ligament) surgery.
In 55 games (35 in relief), the righty is 10-11 with four saves, 149 strikeouts and 72 walks in 169 innings.
During the 2022 season, he appeared in 16 games (10 starts) and was 4-4 with 6.09 earned run average, 51 strikeouts and 21 walks in 54 2/3 innings.
Malatestnic went to the summer collegiate wood-bat Northwoods League’s Kenosha (Wis.) Kingfish and pitched in 13 games and 20 1/3 innings before reaching his limit of combined frames for the spring and summer.
“The surgeon and (Anderson) wanted me at about 75 (total innings),” says Malatestnic, who hurt himself doing velocity training just days before he was going to the Coastal Plains League to pitch for the Wilson High-Tobs in 2020 following a COVID-19-shortened EIU season in which he went 3-0 in four games (three in relief) with a 1.69 ERA, 23 strikeouts and six walks in 26 2/3 innings.
A 32-week rehab program began in October 2020 and concluded in April 2021.
“It was a roller coaster of feelings and situations,” says Malatestnic. “But I knew I could do it.”
The pitcher was with the 2021 Northwoods League’s Lakeshore Chinooks (Mequon, Wis.). He made seven rehab starts capped at about 65 pitches each. He worked 24 innings with 29 strikeouts and seven walks.
“Lakeshore was fantastic,” says Malatestnic. “They saw the long-term goal of why I was there in the first place.
“(Chinooks manager Travis Akre) was a great communicator with the whole process.”
Malatestnic pitched for the Prospect League‘s Danville (Ill.) Dans in the summers of 2018 and 2019
Over the years, Malatestnic’s relationship with Anderson has also grown.
“He has a real open office,” says Malatestnic. “He behind me on Tommy John and did what he could with the school being shut down and all this COVID compliance stuff.”
Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Malatestnic uses a four-seam fastball (clocked as high as 94 mph when he was coming out of the bullpen at the end of the 2022 spring slate).
He also uses a slider and change-up and — this summer — developed a two-seam sinker.
“On the days when the slider’s sharp it has more of a cutter action,” says Malatestnic. “It moves more right to left without a ton of depth. I feel comfortable throwing it a lot. It plays off my fastball.
“My change-up goes down and to the arm-side. There are so many good hitters in the Ohio Valley Conference to get fastballs by them.”
Malatestnic credits Kenosha pitching coach Steve Andrade, who pitched in the majors and counts Indiana Tech among his coaching stops, for aiding him.
“He had me using classical mechanics and posture and staying over the rubber,” says Malatestic. “Those helped me finish my pitches with the right grip and a quick arm.”
Born in Indianapolis, Malatestnic grew up in Avon, Ind. He played T-ball through junior league at Ben Davis Little League. He was on a team that won district and went to the state tournament at 12.
He played travel ball from 13U to 15U with the Indy Predators — coached by his father (Dave Malatestnic) and Terrance Davis.
Going into his junior year of high school (16U), he was with the Indy Raiders. The next summer it was the Eric Osborn-coached Indiana Nitro.
Malatestnic dressed for selected varsity games as a Ritter freshman and and even made his first start as a shortstop against Indianapolis Cathedral. He was a varsity player his last three seasons. He was three-time all-Indiana Crossroads Conference, two-time all-city, all-city Player of the Year (2017), Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association District L Player of the Year (2017), IHSBCA All-State and a North/South All-Star Series participant (2017) and a MaxPreps Small School All-American honoree (2017). He went a combined 15-5 on the mound his sophomore and junior seasons while helping Ritter to sectional titles.
“Coach (Dave) Scott gave me tests and little benchmarks and I passed those,” says Malatestnic. “He really had an attention to detail which was a really good foundation for success.
“He was a hard-nosed kind of guy. We were a pretty scrappy bunch.”
While there were not many future college players on the team, the 2017 Raiders hustled.
“We would run hard, put down bunts and were not afraid of being down two strikes,” says Malatestnic. “We were aggressively calm.”
Malatestnic still stays in-contact with Scott and makes it a point to look him up when he’s home from school.
“You see a lot of guys go back to Ritter after the fact,” says Malatestnic. “That says a lot about Coach Scott. He invested a lot into his players and gave them a lot of life advice or baseball advice.”
Malatestnic earned a degree in Elementary Education last winter then entered graduate school for Curriculum and Instruction.
He is taking one online class this summer and plans to finish up next spring.
Though he started out college on a Biology path, Malatestnic explains why he opted to pursue an education degree.
“I started thinking about all the teachers I had growing up,” says Malatestnic. “Then I had to decide on what level I wanted to teach.”
His senior year at Ritter he was a cadet teacher at St. Christopher School in Speedway with his fourth grade teacher, Miss Elizabeth Anderson.
“It was a crazy amount of fun,” says Malatestnic. “I really enjoyed it.”
Malatestnic did his student teaching the spring of 2021 while he was also rehabbing from his Tommy John.
He is grateful for the time put in my graduate assistant athletic trainer Maria Garcia (now Assistant Director of Sports Medicine at Eastern Kentucky University). The graduate of Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Ind., and Purdue University often met him early in the morning before he began his student-teaching day.
Blake is the son of Dave (Karen) and Noelle Malatestnic. Dave Malatestnic works in IT at Hopebridge Autism Center. Noelle Malatestnic is an interior designed for Flaherty & Collins Properties.
Blake’s siblings are Brenna Malatestnic (25), Jarek Malatestnic (21), Maddie Griffith (21) and Mary Griffith (19). Former Marian University soccer player Brenna lives in Indy. Jarek is a former track athlete at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.

Blake Malatestnic (Eastern Illinois University Photo)
Blake Malatestnic (Eastern Illinois University Photo)