South Ripley High School in Versailles, Ind., has had its share of baseball success. From 2016-19, the Raiders averaged nearly 16 wins per season. The team had plenty of veterans in 2020, but that season was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, South Ripley won its eighth sectional title — the first since 2008. That team featured Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series selection Brady Linkel (now at Ohio University). Jeff Greiwe, a Raiders assistant to Steve Franklin the past several years whose middle son Aaron was a senior ballplayer in 2020, has been named South Ripley head coach as the team prepares for 2022. As head coach, Greiwe plans to assert the importance of fundamentals and attention to detail. “If you want the big things to happen, you’ve got to do the little things right,” says Greiwe. “Bunting, base running, throwing strikes — those things will definitely be emphasized. “We’re going to be extremely young. We’re going to start several freshmen.” Among those is catcher Trent Smith. Keeping everyone involved is also a Greiwe strength. “I make it a point to use everybody during the game,” says Greiwe. South Ripley (enrollment around 370) is a member of the Ohio River Valley Conference (with Jac-Cen-Del, Milan, Rising Sun, Shawe Memorial, Southwestern of Hanover and Switzerland County). ORVC teams play each other twice during the season. In 2021, the Raiders were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Milan, North Decatur, South Decatur, Southwestern of Hanover and Switzerland County. South Ripley plays its home games on-campus at Forest G. Waters Field. A few years ago, the mound was re-done and new bullpen mounds and dugouts were installed. “We’ve got a strong tradition in baseball and one of the better fields in southeastern Indiana,” says Greiwe. “It’s up to me to keep the field to a very high standard.” Greiwe (pronounced (Gry-vee), who teaches high school Geometry, keep things going in the summer and fall for whomever was going to be the head coach and that turned out to be him. He was approved by the school board this month. Greiwe coached the 14U Redlegs Baseball Club in the summer and fall of 2021. As has been the case for years, local players took part in high school and junior team fall leagues at the CERA Sports Park and Camp Ground in Columbus, Ind. After helping get the junior high baseball program off the ground, Greiwe moved up the South Ripley coaching ranks. Brian Smith, who has coached at the junior high level the past few years, is part of the South Ripley high school staff. Greiwe is talking to other possible 2022 assistants. A 1998 graduate of Greensburg (Ind.) Community High School when the Pirates were coached by Roger Cash, Greiwe earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Education from Ball State University. Greiwe has been head coach at Milan in two different stints, helped former high school classmate Doug Behlmer at Oldenburg (Ind.) Academy and was head coach at North Decatur. Prior to teaching at South Ripley, Greiwe was an elementary then middle school math teacher at Milan. Jeff, who is married to South Ripley Elementary teacher and former head volleyball coach Robyn Greiwe, has also coached sons Shayne, Aaron Griewe and Peyton during their travel ball years. Shayne Griewe (Class of 2018) served in the U.S. Navy and is now working in Florida. Aaron Griewe is in the Navy and stationed in Norfolk, Va. Peyton Owens (Class of 2020) is studying music at Dark Horse Institute in Franklin, Tenn.
Blade Rheinhart is leading the baseball program at his alma mater with responsibility and discipline as points of emphasis. “I like to keep kids disciplined — on and off the field — that creates better young gentlemen,” says Rheinhart, a 2014 graduate of Southern Wells Junior/Senior High School in Poneto, Ind., who took over the Raiders prior to the 2020 season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We do a lot of reflection.” Rheinhart expects to have 10 or 11 seniors in 2022 — many of them who played at what is now Blackford Youth Baseball coached by his father Art Rheinhart and himself, including little brother Branson Rheinhart. “They know my expectations,” says Rheinhart. “They know how things are going to be done and what it takes to possibly turn the program around. “We should be very productive.” Senior Evan Reynolds is to sign next week to study and play college baseball at Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne and some other Raiders are considering their college options. Evan Huffman, a 2017 Southern Wells graduate who played at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., and Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, has joined a Raiders coaching staff which also includes Brett Vickery and Tyler Sonnigsen. Huffman was a high school classmate of Brennen Rheinhart, Blade’s middle brother and son of Art and Brandy Rheinhart. Southern Wells (enrollment around 260) is a member of the Allen County Athletic Conference (with Adams Central, Bluffton, Heritage, Jay County,South Adams and Woodlan). In 2021, the Raiders were part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Anderson Preparatory Academy, Cowan, Daleville, Liberty Christian, Tri-Central and Wes-Del. Southern Wells has not yet won a sectional title. The Raiders’ home field is on-campus and gets year-to-year maintenance. Southern Wells once had junior high baseball, but does not currently. Local players can go to three different youth baseball leagues— Blackford, Bluffton and Warren. Rhinehart decided he wanted to be a teacher and coach during his freshmen year at Southern Wells. He went on to earn an Elementary Education degree at Ball State University in 2018 and now teaches sixth grade math at Blackford Intermediate School in Hartford City, Ind. “I knew the path I wanted to take,” says Rheinhart. “I had excellent teachers throughout my whole career. I wanted their job. Sports a huge part of my life.” Rheinhart played baseball and basketball at Southern Wells. His head baseball coaches were Keith Kinder (2011 and 2012), Chad Smekens (2013) and Ben Mann (2014). Leading the Raiders in basketball were Ryan Thomas (2010-11 and 2011-12) and Brody Tarter (2012-13, and 2013-14). Another generation came into the Rheinhart baseball family this year. Two days before Southern Wells’ first baseball game in 2021, Blade’s son William was born. Three days later, the baby was at his first contest.
Attracted by a talent pool and first-class place to play and train, Chad Gerard went after the head baseball coaching job at Northridge High School in Middlebury, Ind., and was hired this fall. His first official day was Oct. 2. “It’s (an IHSAA Class) 4A school,” says Gerard. “4A jobs don’t open up very often. Facilities available there are state-of-the-art. “Who wouldn’t want to have that (artificial turf) to play on everyday?” The 2021 season was the Raiders’ first on the D-Bat Elkhart Field at Jane Allen Athletic Complex rug. Northridge went 17-7 overall and 10-4 in the Northern Lakes Conference. The Raiders hosted a baseball sectional for the first time. Concord, Goshen, Elkhart, Penn and Warsaw completed the 4A tournament field. Northridge (enrollment around 1,500) is in the NLC with Concord, Goshen, 4A Mishawaka, 3A NorthWood, 4A Plymouth, Warsaw and 3A Wawasee. The Raiders have won seven sectional titles — the last in 2019. Gerard was the head coach at 2A Bremen 2017-21. The Lions are in the Northern Indiana Conference with Elkhart, 3A Mishawaka Marian, 3A New Prairie, Penn, 4A South Bend Adams and 3A South Bend Saint Joseph in one division and Bremen, 3A Glenn, 3A Jimtown, 3A South Bend Clay, 4A South Bend Riley and 3A South Bend Washington in the other. The fall IHSAA Limited Contact Period ended Oct. 16. Gerard a chance to have one introductory workout and another batting practice on the field. “Then I said, ‘See you in December’ (for the next Limited Contact Period),” says Gerard, who has had 32 players — not including freshmen — indicate interest in going out for 2022. “I’m hoping to be in the mid-40’s range (for three teams in the spring). We’ll be hitting hard in January through mid-March and start of the season.” Gerard has hired three of six assistant coaches – Mark Bell (pitching coach/first base), Jim Morris (hitting/bench) and Andy Ross (head junior varsity). Vacancies to be filled are JV assistant and both head and assistant C-team. Bell was with Gerard on the Mishawaka High School staff. Gerard, a former catcher and 1998 Mishawaka High School graduate who played for Gregg Minegar at MHS and Glenn Johnson at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., spent 10 years as an assistant to Cavemen head coach John Huemmer. With shipping delays in mind, Gerard has started ordering equipment like hats, catcher’s gear, batting helmets and other practice items. He’s also began planning a fundraiser that Northridge baseball and softball share. Gerard has also set up communication channels with players and parents, using an app called Remind and started indoor practice plans. The Raiders have a large a fieldhouse. Like his other coaching stops, Gerard will put an emphasis on servant leadership. “These players will be husbands, fathers, employees and citizens of the community,” says Gerard. “We’re teaching these kids how to deal with tough situations, how to be on a team and how to deal with losing. That’s our focus. “God put leaders on this earth to better others — not themselves. The side effect is better baseball players.” This fall, Gerard was an instructor in the Jim Reinebold Fall Baseball Camp. Away from coaching, Gerard provides on-site Information Technology service for Acruity in Goshen, Ind. Chad and wife of 13 years, Amanda, reside in Oceola, Ind., with daughter Kaitlyn (10), a fifth grader at Bittersweet Elementary School in the Penn-Harris-Madison system.
Shenandoah High School’s 2021 baseball season did not begin with the Raiders flying out of the gate. But once they found their stride, there was plenty of success in what was alum Ryan Painter’s first on-field campaign. The IHSAA Class 2A program in Middletown, Ind., started out 2-8 then won 16 of 20 with a 10-game win streak, a Henry County championship and a runner-up finish in the Centerville Sectional. While seven seniors — including six starters — from that team graduated, Painter sees bright possibilities in 2022. “We’re very optimistic,” says Painter, a 2004 Shenandoah graduate who played four years on the varsity for head coach Jack Lewis — two at second base and then two at catcher — and later was an assistant for six years on the staff of Bruce Stanley (who was a Raiders assistant when Painter was a player) before taking over the program prior to the 2020 season canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 24 players in the program in 2021 and the Raiders played a full junior varsity schedule. One of the newcomers for 2022 is freshman middle infielder/pitcher Collin Osenbaugh, who has already made a verbal commitment to the University of Louisville. Shenandoah (enrollment around 420) is a member of the Mid-Eastern Conference (with Blue River Valley, Cowan, Daleville, Eastern Hancock, Monroe Central, Randolph Southern, Union of Modoc, Wapahani and Wes-Del). Wes-Del head coach Daniel Hanson was a teammate of Painter’s at Shenandoah. MEC games are played on Tuesdays and Thursdays with each team facing the others one time. In 2021, the Raiders were in a sectional with Centerville, Hagerstown, Northeastern and Union County. As a smallish school, Shenandoah has many multi-sport athletes. This fall has been more about field maintenance and some strength training that baseball activities during the IHSAA Limited Contact Period (two days a week, two hours at a time). “We went very heavy in the summer,” says Painter, who regularly saw 16 to 22 players at workouts. “Once football hit our numbers went down. “I look forward to winter contact period (Dec. 6-Feb. 5 for all sports and until the start of official practice for spring sports). We’ll be flexible with morning and evening sessions. It’s important for us to build durability and make sure kids are agile and getting their arm care. We want complete full athletes. If we can find 9 to 11 true athletes we’re usually in pretty good shape.” The Raiders’ on-campus diamond was recently aerated and seeded. “The other coaches and I take pride in our facility,” says Painter. “We mow year-round. In the past 10 years we’ve had some nice renovations (including a brick backstop with netting and expanded dugouts). In the spring, we plan modifications to the mound and plate areas.” Assistant coaches include Jamey White, Rusty Conner and Kris Harter. Anderson (Ind.) Highland High School White helps with hitters and infielders, Shenandoah alum Conner is the junior varsity coach and helps with outfielders, Painter’s former SHS classmate Harter serves as a mentor and fosters relationships with players. Painter handles pitchers and catchers, but keeps his finger on the pulse of everything else. “I don’t want to be a control freak, but I want to know where everybody stands,” says Painter. Feeding the high school program are a junior high team (seventh and eighth graders playing in the East Central Indiana league), Shenandoah Boys Baseball (ages 4-12) in Middletown and several travel ball organizations catering to boys in grades 4-8. Recent Shenandoah graduates on college baseball rosters include Maxwell McKee (Ball State University) and Cy Stanley (Taylor University). Three 2021 graduates moved on for other sports — Blake Surface (Indiana State University) and Tanner Goff (Trine University) for football and Kaden McCollough (Hanover College) and Michael Howard (Hanover College) for basketball. Painter is employed as a senior systems analyst at Fiserv in Fishers, Ind. Ryan and wife Stephanie have a blended family with five children — Kesley Baker (20), Hunter Baker (18), Rylan Tubbs (16), Jayden Painter (12) and Nolan Painter (10). Kelsey is a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington. Senior Hunter, sophomore Rylan, seventh grader Jayden and fifth grader Nolan are all in Shenandoah schools.
Wes-Del went 20-8-1 and reached the semifinals of the IHSAA Class 1A Liberty Christian Sectional in Daniel Hanson’s first season as head baseball coach in 2021. That squad had no seniors. “We bring everybody back,” says Hanson. Among the returnees is right-handed pitcher and Indiana Wesleyan University commit Zack Todd (Class of 2022), son of former Wes-Del head coach and current assistant Bob Todd. Besides Todd, Hanson’s Wes-Del’s staff includes Mason Whitted, Ben Krider and Ed Dennis. With 22 players in the program last year, there was a limited junior varsity schedule. As the Warriors prep for ’22 during the current Limited Contact Period window Hanson has two points of emphasis in twice-weekly sessions: Growing arm strength for all players and hitting. “We had good defense and pitching, says Hanson of ’21. “Our lineup needed to be better. “We’re breaking down swings and working in weight room (this fall). We want to hit with more power next spring.” Hanson saw his Wes-Del players buy into his philosophy. “We were able to win ugly at times with small ball and baserunning,” says Hanson. I believe you have to coach to what you have and figure out ways to win with what we have. That (2021) group maximized and played to its strengths really well. “We were very focused on the details in all the phases. But baseball’s about putting balls in the gap. Being good offensively really helps.” Wes-Del (enrollment around 290) is a member of the Mid-Eastern Conference (with Blue River Valley, Cowan, Daleville, Eastern Hancock, Monroe Central, Randolph Southern, Shenandoah, Union of Modoc and Waphani). In 2021, the Warriors were part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Anderson Preparatory Academy, Cowan, Daleville, Liberty Christian, Southern Wells and Tri-Central. Wes-Del has won five sectional titles — the last in 2011. The Warriors play on-campus on a field that received new batting cages and an inning-by-inning scoreboard last year. The bullpen mounds were also upgraded. On the radar are new dugouts and press box. Wes-Del’s feeder system includes a middle school team of seventh and eighth graders in the East Central Indiana league plus recreation leagues in Gaston and Muncie and area travel teams. Hanson is both at coach and an administrator at Wes-Del Middle/High School near the Delaware County town of Gaston, Ind., also holding the title of assistant principal. “I enjoy it,” says Hanson of the two roles. “They bring different relationships with students. (As assistant principal) you’re involved with he whole school. (As coach) I love taking care of the field. “It does present its challenges with time management. And then I’m a father and a husband as well.” Daniel and wife of seven years, Alicia, reside in Anderson, Ind., with their two daughters – first grader Paisley (6) and pre-schooler Avery (3). Alicia Hanson runs Sweet Pea’s Child Care out of their home. Before coming to Wes-Del, Daniel Hanson was at Daleville (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School. He was head baseball coach prior to Terry Turner and also served as athletic director and head boys basketball coach during his time with the Broncos. Hanson is a 2005 graduate of Shenandoah High School near Middletown, Ind., where he played football, basketball and baseball — the latter for Raiders head coach Jack Lewis. “I learned a lot from Jack,” says Hanson of Lewis. “I played for him then coached with him (at Liberty Christian with each man taking turns as head coach). He had passion, which is something I try to instill in my players. He wanted to compete at a high level and had an attention to detail.” Hanson started coaching when he was still a student at Ball State University, where he earned an Elementary Education degree and began teaching middle school math at Daleville. He later got a Masters in Administration at Indiana Wesleyan.
Bradley Brehmer is another pitcher who has decided to conclude his collegiate baseball career at Indiana University after beginning it out-of-state. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound right-hander joins former University of Louisville righty Jack Perkins on the Hoosiers staff for 2021-22. Brehmer made the announcement July 12. “I can develop a little more and be a better draft pick,” says Brehmer, 21. “I was a Hoosiers fan growing up and this a better opportunity for me.” A 2018 graduate of Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis who was selected in the 23rd round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Baltimore Orioles but decided to go to college, Brehmer hurled the past three seasons (2019-21) for Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In 32 games for the Alex Sogard-coached Raiders (29 starts), Brehmer went 15-8 with a 4.54 earned run average. In 168 1/3 innings, he racked up 136 strikeouts with 53 walks. The 2021 season saw Brehmer make 14 starts and go 8-4 with a 4.11 ERA. He had 85 K’s and 25 walks in 76 2/3 innings. He fanned 11 batters in 6 2/3 innings April 23 at Northern Kentucky. After entering the NCAA Transfer Portal and making a visit to Bloomington, Brehmer opted to transfer to IU. Brehmer committed to Wright State as a high school junior when Jeff Mercer was the WSU head coach. Mercer moved to Indiana for the 2019 season. “Mercer keeps it real,” says Brehmer. “He makes you work hard and I like that. I like to to be pushed. “I work hard. I’m a leader when I’m around everybody. I’m confident in my ability on the field. I’m very positive.” Brehmer was impressed that Hoosiers pitching coach Justin Parker had a plan set up for the right-hander. The 2021 summer started with Brehmer making two starts for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League then shut it down and to get ready for the 20-round MLB Draft. Teams contacted him, but offers were too low and he was not selected. Five pitches are in Brehmer’s arsenal — four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, change-up and curveball. In the spring, he sat at 91 to 94 mph with his four-seamer, hitting 96 in his May 7 start against Milwaukee. Brehmer says his slider is “like a gyro ball.” “It spins and gravity takes in down,” says Brehmer. “It goes to the back foot of lefties.” Dropping down a little from his high three-quarter arm slot, Brehmer throws a four-seam “circle” change. His curve has a 12-to-6 action. In the past year, he has learned new grips for his change-up, slider and curve. At 6-6, Brehmer can use leverage to his advantage. He grew several inches in high school. He entered Decatur Central around 5-8 and a couple of years later he was 6-4. Jason Combs was his head coach with the Hawks. He won 19 games with a 1.88 ERA and 192 strikeouts in four years. In 2018, he was an all-stater and all-Marion County. Brehmer also played two years each of football and basketball at Decatur Central before focusing on baseball. Born in Greenwood, Ind., Brehmer moved to Camby, Ind., at age 5 and lived there until moving to Southport as a high school junior. Growing up, Brehmer played shortstop, third base and a little first base and catcher in addition to pitcher. He played travel ball for the Decatur Hawks — coached by Dan Brehmer (his father) and Dave Harper — from 7U to 12U. He then spent a few summers with the Indiana Mustangs, one with the Indiana Prospects and his 17U and 18U seasons in 2017 and 2018 with the Indiana Braves, coached by Steven Mirizzi. In the summer of 2020, Brehmer pitched for the Tropics in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. He also worked out at Pro X Athlete Development at Grand Park as well as Players Performance Factory in Mooresville, Ind. With his workload for Wright State in the spring (72 innings), Brehmer did not play in the summer of 2019, but took classes and worked out. Bradley has four siblings — half brother Blake, stepsisters Reese and Payton and stepbrother Logan. His mother is Cristen Brehmer. His stepmother is Jessica Brehmer.
Today (June 12) four semistates will be staged at LaPorte, Kokomo, Mooresville and Jasper to determine the teams competing int he 2021 IHSAA State Finals June 21-22 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Here is a capsulized look at Final Four teams in Class 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A:
Team By Team Washington Township Senators — Head Coach Randy Roberts. 1A Washington Township Sectional — Kouts 7-1, Westville 4-1, Morgan Township 4-1. 1A South Bend Regional — South Central (Union Mills) 6-3, Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian 10-1. Sectional titles (10) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Regional titles (5) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Semistate titles (1) — 2019. State titles (0). State runner-up (1) — 2019 (Randy Roberts).
Cowan Blackhawks — Head Coach Aaron Wells. 1A Liberty Christian Sectional — Wes-Del 5-1, Daleville 4-3. 1A Carroll (Flora) Regional — Union City 3-0, Riverton Parke 9-3. Sectional titles (7) — last one before 2021 — 2010. Regional titles (4) — last one before 2021 — 2008. Semistate titles (1) — 2008. State titles (0). State runner-up (1) — 2008 (Camden Parkhurst).
Hanover Central Wildcats — Head Coach Ryan Bridges. 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional — Kankakee Valley 9-1, Culver Academies 10-0, John Glenn 8-4. 3A Griffith Regional — South Bend St. Joseph 6-1, Northwestern 18-1. Sectional titles (2) — last one before 2021 — 2011. Regional tittles (2) — last one before 2021 — 2011. Semistate titles (1) — 2011. State titles (0). State runner-up (1) — 2011 (Doug Nelson).
Norwell Knights — Head Coach Dave Goodmiller. 3A Bellmont Sectional — Marion 10-0, Mississinewa 13-2, Oak Hills 15-10. 3A Bellmont Regional — Wawasee 7-2, Leo 5-3. Sectional titles (17) — last one before 2021 — 2017. Regional titles (7) — last one before 2021 — 2013. Semistate titles (3) — 2006, 2007, 2013. State titles (3) — 2003 (Kelby Weybright), 2007 (Kelby Weybright), 2013 (Andy McClain).
Eastside Blazers — Head Coach Aaron Willard. 2A Eastside Sectional — Adams Central 3-1, Bluffton 16-1. 2A Whiting Regional — Wheeler 7-1, Central Noble 18-3. Sectional titles (6) — last one before 2021 — 2018. Regional titles (1) — 2021. Semistate titles (0). State titles (0).
Delphi Oracles — Head Coach Ryan Long. 2A Delphi Sectional — Fountain Central 14-2, Seeger 7-3. 2A Lafayette Central Catholic Regional — Rochester 12-5, Wapahani 7-2. Sectional titles (6) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Regional titles (2) — last one before 2021 — 2010. Semistate titles (1) — 2010. State titles (0). State runner-up (1) — Delphi (Pat Lowrey).
Munster Mustangs — Head Coach Bob Shinkan (Indiana Baseball HOF inductee). 4A Merrillville Sectional — Highland 11-2, Merrillville 9-0, Lake Central 2-1. 4A LaPorte Regional — Valparaiso 6-3, South Bend Adams 9-2. Sectional titles (13) — last one before 2021 — 2016. Regional titles (6) — last one before 2021 — 2010. Semistate titles (0). State titles (1) — 2002 (Bob Shinkan).
Fishers Tigers — Head Coach Matt Cherry. 4A Westfield Sectional — Hamilton Southeastern 7-1, Carmel 1-0, Noblesville 4-0. 4A Kokomo Regional — Homestead 8-4, Harrison (West Lafayette) 7-5. Sectional titles (3) — last one before 2021 — 2018. Regional titles (2) — last one before 2021 — 2018. Semistate titles (1) — 2018. State titles (1) — 2018 (Matt Cherry).
Shakamak Lakers – Head Coach Jeremy Yeryar. 1A White River Valley Sectional — White River Valley 14-0, Clay City 10-0, Bloomfield 4-1. 1A Morristown Regional — Southwestern (Shelbyville) 10-1, Oldenburg Academy 13-0. Sectional titles (26) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Regional titles (12) — last one before 2021 — 2015. Semistate titles (7) — 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015. State titles (2) — 2008 (Matt Fougerousse), 2014 (Chip Sweet). State runner-up (5) — 2004 (Chip Sweet), 2006 (Matt Fougerousse), 2007 (Matt Fougerousse), 2012 (Chip Sweet), 2015 (Todd Gambill).
Borden Braves — Head Coach Eric Stotts. 1A South Central (Elizabeth) Sectional — Lanesville 18-1, Orleans 3-0. 1A Lanesville Regional — West Washington 17-2, Loogootee 5-2. Sectional titles (5) — last one before 2021 — 2018. Regional titles (1) — 2021. Semistate titles (0). State titles (0).
University Trailblazers — Head Coach Chris Estep (1 state title). 2A Cascade Sectional — Covenant Christian 7-3, Cascade 8-2. 2A Cascade Regional — Centerville 12-5, Parke Heritage 8-2. Sectional titles (5) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Regional titles (3) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Semistate titles (2) — 2018, 2019. State titles (1) — 2019 (Chris Estep). State runner-up (1) — 2018 (Chris Estep.
Providence Pioneers — Head Coach Scott Hutchins. 2A Eastern (Pekin) Sectional — Henryville 10-4, Eastern (Pekin) 11-0, Austin 10-0. 2A Evansville Mater Dei Regional — South Ripley 5-3, North Posey 8-6. Sectional titles (19) — last one before 2021 — 2017. Regional titles (7) — last one before 2021 — 2017. Semistate titles (1) — 2016. State titles (1) — 2016 (Scott Hornung).
Brebeuf Jesuit Braves — Head Coach Jeff Scott. 3A Brebeuf Sectional — Danville 5-0, Tri-West Hendricks 15-1. 3A Danville Regional — Indianapolis Bishop Chatard 10-0, Northview 17-2. Sectional titles (15) — last one before 2021 — 2017. Regional titles (4) — last one before 2021 — 2012. Semistate titles (1) — 2012. State titles (0). State runner-up (1) — 2012 (Andy McClain).
Southridge Raiders — Head Coach Gene Mattingly. 3A Southridge Sectional — Pike Central 10-0, Washington 1-0. 3A Southridge Regional — Silver Creek 2-1, Evansville Memorial 7-2. Sectional titles (6) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Regional titles (3) — last one before 2021 — 2019. Semistate titles (2) — 2018, 2019. State titles (0). State runner-up (2) — 2018 (Gene Mattingly), 2019 (Gene Mattingly).
Mt. Vernon Marauders — Head Coach Brad King. 4A Pendleton Heights Sectional — Muncie Central 19-0, Pendleton Heights 8-0. 4A Mt. Vernon Regional — Franklin Central 6-2, Indianapolis Cathedral 6-3. Sectional titles (8) — last one before 2021 — 2011. Regional titles (2) — last one before 2021 — 1971. Semistate titles (0). State titles (0).
Jasper Wildcats — Head Coach Terry Gobert (Indiana Baseball HOF inductee; 5 state titles). 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional — Castle 6-1, Evansville North 5-4, Evansville Central 10-0. 4A Jasper Regional — Floyd Central 2-1, Center Grove 7-4. Sectional titles (39) — last one before 2021 — 2017. Regional titles (26) — last one before 2021 — 2017. Semistate titles (14) — 1967, 1968, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017. State titles (5) — 1996 (Terry Gobert), 1997 (Terry Gobert), 1998 (Terry Gobert), 2000 (Terry Gobert), 2006 (Terry Gobert). State runner-up (4) — 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017.
He has been introduced to a winning culture established by Fire head coach Adrian Dinkel and his staff.
“I didn’t know about Southeastern when I was getting recruited,” says Bridge, 22. “I just needed to find a school in Florida. I wanted to play down there.
I get here and find out they are a top five team in the country. They win 40-plus games every year. This team we have right year can go and compete with most (NCAA) D-I ’s.”
Bridge says the Fire’s first mission was to win the Sun Conference and then set its sights on the NAIA College World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.
No. 2-ranked Southeastern (47-7) host the five-team NAIA Opening Round Lakeland Bracket. SEU’s first game is tonight (May 17) against the USC-Beaufort (S.C)-Fisher (Mass.) winner in Winter Haven.
The righty-swinging Bridge is a utility player. As he grew up, Bridge played all over the infield. In college, he’s been in the infield and the outfield. Last year at Southeastern, he was in center field. Now he’s in right field.
In 47 games (30 starts) this spring, Bridge is hitting .357 (45-of-126) with seven home runs, eight doubles, 33 runs batted in, 39 runs scored, 7-of-9 in stolen bases and a .986 OPS (.399 on-base percentage plus .587 slugging average).
“The confidence I have in the (batter’s) box is unmatched right now,” says Bridge. “I get in there and I’m like, ‘throw me something I can hit.’
“I’ve always been a pretty good hitter. I’ve known that I can hit. It’s always like a mental thing for me.”
A pinch-hit home run April 17 against Florida Memorial led to a start in SEU’s next game and built Bridge’s confidence.
“My mindset’s been a complete 180 (from the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021,” says Bridge, who is in his last year of college eligibility. “I stopped putting pressure on myself and starting playing the game like I did when I was a little kid. It’s fun. Enjoy it.”
In 2020 — a season that ended prematurely because of the COVID-19 pandemic — Bridge played in 26 games (21 starts) and hit .370 (27-of-73) with four homers, five doubles, 20 RBIs, 21 runs, 4-of-6 in stolen bases and a 1.056 OPS (.453 on-base percentage plus .603 slugging average).
“I’ve always focused on baseball,” says Bridge. “These degrees are definitely helping me further my knowledge in the business world. That’s what I want to do when I’m done with baseball.
“It’s also really helped with my leadership skills. I’m able to communicate better with people.”
Brian and Shanna Bridge have two children — daughter Hunter and son Carter. Dad works for Lafayette Masonry, Mom for State Farm Insurance and sister for Purdue University. Only Carter did not attend Purdue.
Bridge was at Western Michigan for the fall semester of his freshman year then transferred to Heartland, where he spent his freshman spring and all of his sophomore year.
With the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II member Hawks, he was able to build a brotherhood.
“I was able to build those relationships with those guys I knew absolutely nothing about,” says Bridge. “In my sophomore year (2018), we were the No. 2 team in the country. We were a really good team. That stemmed from the brotherhood that team had built.”
Bridge was recruited to Indiana by Chris Lemonis and Kyle Cheesebrough, but both coaches left for Mississippi State. Bridge got into three games with the 2019 Hoosiers and transferred to Southeastern.
Bridge was born and grew up in the West Lafayette area. His first travel ball team — the Tippecanoe Wolfpack — was started by his father.
Flemm is an alum of Veritas Christian Academy in Sparta, N.J., where he pitched for the Lions baseball team and graduated in 2015. He finished his course work at Cedarville (Ohio) University as a History major and double minor in International Studies and Bible in December and is planning to attend May 1 commencement.
He was contacted by former Veritas Christian administrator and current Elkhart Christian secondary principal Sean Bevier who informed him of the baseball coach opening. Flemm was working with the Sussex County Miners Travel Baseball 13U team. Besides coaching, he is substitute and study hall teacher at ECA.
Baker and Flemm, who are assisted by former Elkhart Christian players Mark Stevens and T.J. Tice, guide a group of 12 players that includes one senior (Matt Elmerick), no juniors and the rest sophomores and freshmen.
Some have played travel ball. Others have little baseball experience.
“It sounds cliche’, but we’re working on getting better each day,” says Baker. “We want them listening to what we tell them and trying to apply it on the field.”
Three — Elmerick and sophomores Jude Reynolds and Luke Schramm — split their time between baseball and the Eagles track and field team coached by Allen Lollis. With the help of athletic director Richelle Viront, game and practice schedules are coordinated to accommodate both spring programs.
Elkhart Christian Academy (enrollment around 160) is a member of the Hoosier Plains Conference (with IHSAA Class 1A schools Argos, Bethany Christian, Lakeland Christian Academy, South Bend Career Academy and Trinity at Greenlawn). Only ECA, Argos, Bethany have baseball teams this spring.
“We play a lot of these really big school,” says Flemm. “That’s going to set us up for success in the conference and a state tournament time.”
The Eagles are trying to develop pitchers and catchers on the fly. Many will get a turn on the mound.
“Everybody’s a pitcher until we figure out that’s not your forte’,” says Baker.
Something that was ingrained during Flemm’s travel and high school pitching career was the importance of control.
“Throwing strikes is the only way you’re going to succeed,” says Flemm. “Our second game (against LaVille) we had more strikes and that was awesome to see.
“It’ll just take a lot of refinement and more experience for the guys on the bump.”
Baker looks for ECA pitchers to develop a fastball and change-up and be able to hit their spots with it.
Flemm is upbeat about the future.
“We see a lot of potential,” says Flemm. “It’s been a blessing working with this group of guys.
“I’m excited for what’s coming and how we can develop these guys even more.”
As a private K-12 school, ECA does not always know who will be attending from year to year.
Flemm says there has been talk of starting a junior high baseball program. He has noticed interest in the game among students in those grades.
“It’s something, hopefully, Coach Baker and I can start.” says Flemm, who notes that he and Baker will lead a youth baseball camp ECA in early June. “We’ll get a chance to see what kind of talent we have coming in.”
The Elkhart Christian campus is located in an open area behind the school and next to the U.S. 20 By-Pass. A breeze seemingly never stops.
“We’re almost in a wind tunnel,” says Baker. “It can be difficult to hear (talk between players and coaches and players and other players).
“We need to work on communication and use our big-boy voices so people can hear.”
A system that includes a machine that weighs about 14 pounds costs upwards of $4,000 and comes with a $500 a year subscription.
“It’s an investment,” says Northridge head coach Andrew Brabender. “But it helps utilize the kids’ potential.”
During indoor workouts and continuing into outdoor practices, metrics on such things as exit velocity (“the speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat after contact”), launch angle (“the vertical angle at which the baseball leaves the bat after contact”), spin rate (“the rate at which the ball spins during flight after contact, measured in rotations per minute or RPM”) and spin direction the tilt or angle of the baseball from the contact point, measured in degrees, created by the Magnus effect. The Magnus Effect is created by the air pressure surrounding the spinning baseball on its path from the bat”) is being collected, displayed on a laptop and stored in a cloud, which players and coaches can access.
Brabender says he wants his hitters to bring the metrics together, experience an “aha” moment and put it into action.
“We’re trying to stay as current as possible,” says Brabender. “But Launch Angle is the metric and not the swing.”
The coach emphasizes that is data that is giving hitters feedback and helping them learn how to swing to create the backspin that gets to ball to elevate — and hopefully — carry.
“It’s not something you teach, it’s something you measure,” says Brabender. “We’re trying to hit line drives over the infielders’ heads.”
It’s what Brabender calls “result-oriented” training.
“The guys put their body in the right position — for example — to hit it over the L-screen or into targets,” says Brabender.
To promote competition, weekly leaderboards have been posted.
“We make it really competitive in the winter,” says Brabender.
The Middlebury, Ind.-based Raiders can earn T-shirts for various clubs — 85 mph, 90 mph, 95 mph etc. This means the player has reached that level in exit velocity off their bat and with running “pulldowns” while throwing.
“College coaches want to see (metrics),” says Brabender. “It’s more than (traditional baseball) stats.
“It’s taken over the game and how you instruct. But you still have to throw and catch the baseball. That’s where is starts and ends.”
After missing the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northridge was to start the 2021 season today (March 30) at West Noble then debut the new turf of D-Bat Elkhart Field Wednesday (March 31) against Penn.