Tag Archives: Rich Benjamin

Indiana Wesleyan’s Benjamin talks to North/South All-Stars about honor, thankfulness

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

Players chosen for the 2022 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series were honored at a banquet Friday, June 24 and will continue to be celebrated as three games are played June 25-26 at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion — two Saturday beginning at noon and one Sunday at 1 p.m.
As keynote speaker at Friday’s banquet, where Brebeuf Jesuit’s Andrew Dutkanych IV was revealed as the 2022 IHSBCA Player of the Year, IWU head baseball coach Rich Benjamin offered a message on honor and thankfulness to a group including many teenagers who are about to embark on the college baseball experience.
“We define the word honor as looking for the strengths and abilities of another without tripping over their perceived shortcomings,” said Benjamin. “It’s really preferences.
“This happens on a baseball team. You’re with each other every single day. Right? You go to college and it becomes this 9- to 10-month journey, where you see somebody six, seven days a week. There’s going to be preferences.
“Your coach will have preferences. A 6 a.m. lift is not a hard issue. It’s a preference. What can happen is in any environment that you’re in, there is a danger of getting so wrapped up in the preferences that you miss the strengths of the environment.”
Benjamin challenged the All-Stars to enter into the relationship created by being on a college team by looking for the strengths and abilities in others and not tripping over their perceived shortcomings.
The coach with more than 500 career victories offered a personal example.
“My dad’s a good dad,” said Benjamin. “I think I was a pretty good son. But for 6 1/2 years we didn’t talk.
“The reason why we didn’t talk is because the relationship got wrapped up and perceived weaknesses and preferences. Maybe what he wished I was and maybe what I wished he was.”
Then somebody sat Benjamin down to discuss honor. He went home that night, went to his kitchen table and began to write down all his father’s strengths.
A few weeks later, his stepmother reached out. She wanted her husband and stepson to have a great relationship.
“For the first time in 6 1/2 years, I was able to respond from a place of honor,” said Benjamin. “Instead of responding from the perceived weaknesses that I saw in my father, instead I responded from one of his strengths. I said my dad is the hardest-working man I’ve ever known.”
The son also wanted the father to work at their relationship.
A few more weeks go by and the father went to see the son coach at Judson University in Elgin, Ill., where Benjamin led the baseball program from 2008-15.
“It was a monumental weekend,” said Benjamin. “It was like Win No. 200 or 300. And during that game, he looked over at my stepmom and he said, ‘You know what? He’s a good man.’ I’d never heard my dad say that. Not a day in my life. And he was a good dad. But he didn’t use those words.
“What set the foundation for that entire situation? It wasn’t the ability to change the other person in the room. I had no control over that. It was the ability to go ahead and just live from a place of honor.”
Benjamin coached in Tennessee and Illinois before coming to Indiana in 2016.
“I don’t know of another high school organization that puts as much effort into the all-star recognition in the state of Indiana to have a banquet in your honor and have a practice day as well with photos, uniforms — the whole thing. They do a tremendous job of honoring you guys this weekend.”
Benjamin knows that players like things a certain way. Are the pants tight or loose enough? Is the cap my size? Will I get to wear my favorite number?
“You’re allowed to have preferences,” said Benjamin. “And you’re allowed to express those preferences and your coaches and the people in your life they’re allowed to love and serve to the best of their ability to go ahead and fulfill those preferences.
“But not all preferences can be changed. And so when you’re done exposing or expressing your preferences, just say, ‘man, what are the strengths and the opportunities right here in this room?’ The strength and the opportunity is that entire weekend was created to honor you.”
Benjamin’s mother is a three-time cancer survivor who has also come away from two highway accidents that could have been fatal.
Her response to her son about learning she was cancer-free?
“She said, ‘The Lord taught me how to praise him in a valley this weekend,’” said Benjamin. “That’s thankfulness. To be able to get to a place of thankfulness and praise in the middle of the valley.
“You’ll be able to do that on a mountaintop and many of you will have to reach your place of thankfulness at 6 a.m. when you’re on limited sleep and you’re on pace to get the first B of your entire life or you’re in an intrasquad and your one at-bat the whole day is against top-five-rounder and he’s working on a slider that day and you won’t see any heaters. Right then you’re gonna have to enter a place of thankfulness.”

Rich Benjamin (Indiana Wesleyan University Photo)

Taylor’s Gould, Indiana Wesleyan’s Benjamin, Bethel’s Zartman, DePauw’s Allen reach milestones; Ball State sweeps Central Michigan

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

Three Indiana-based Crossroads League head coaches reached victory milestones as the regular season came to a close the week of April 25-May 1.
Taylor’s Kyle Gould earned his 600th win, Indiana Wesleyan’s Rich Benjamin his 500th and Bethel’s Seth Zartman his 400th.
The eight-team Crossroads League tournament is slated for May 6-10 at Taylor. Mount Vernon Nazarene won the regular-season title. Seeds 2-8 are Taylor, Indiana Wesleyan, Huntington, Bethel, Spring Arbor and Saint Francis. The 2022 season came to a close for CL members Grace and Goshen.
Indiana Southeast swept three River States Conference games from Midway and Oakland City went 3-0 in conference play against Ohio Christian.
The six-team RSC tournament featuring Indiana Southeast, Indiana University Kokomo and Oakland City is May 5-8 in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Indiana Tech went 2-0 against Northwestern Ohio in Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference games.
The WHAC tournament first round is May 5-6 with No. 5 seed Indiana Tech, No. 1 Northwestern Ohio (host) and No. 6 Concordia in Pod B. The championship round is slated for May 9-10. The tournament winner receives the second automatic qualifier to the NAIA national tournament. If it is the conference champion, then the runner up of the tournament will receive the second berth.
NCAA Division I Ball State (29-14, 23-4) ran its win streak to eight and took over the lead in the Mid-American Conference with a four-game sweep of visiting Central Michigan. The Chippewas had won 22 straight MAC games prior to Friday’s loss to the Cardinals.
Four-game conference series against Kent State, Ohio and Miami remain on BSU’s regular-season slate. The MAC tournament is schedule for May 25-28.
Notre Dame (28-10, 13-8) won two of three games in an Atlantic Coast Conference series against Boston College. The Irish are No. 8 in the D1Baseball.com RPI.
Evansville (24-18, 9-3) took all three Missouri Valley Conference games from Bradley.
Purdue (25-14, 6-7) went 2-1 vs. Michigan and Indiana (20-24, 6-9) 2-1 against Illinois in a pair of Big Ten Conference series.
NCAA Division II Southern Indiana split four Great Lakes Valley Conference games against Missouri Science & Technology.
NCAA D-III Franklin won both Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference contests against Transylvania.
Also in the HCAC, Hanover was 2-0 against Transylvania and 1-1 vs. Defiance, Rose-Hulman 2-0 against Bluffton, Manchester 1-1 vs. Mount St. Joseph and Earlham and Anderson split a two-game series.
The five-team HCAC tournament is scheduled for May 12-15 at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
Wabash went 1-1 against Hiram in North Coast Athletic Conference play. The four-team NCAC tournament is May 12-14 in Chillicothe, Ohio.
By beating Anderson Wednesday, DePauw’s Blake Allen got his 100th career victory as a head coach.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through May 1
NCAA D-I
Ball State 29-14 (23-4 MAC)
Notre Dame 28-10 (13-8 ACC)
Purdue 25-14 (6-7 Big Ten)
Evansville 24-18 (9-3 MVC)
Indiana State 22-13 (7-5 MVC)
Indiana 20-24 (6-9 Big Ten)
Butler 18-26-1 (2-9-1 Big East)
Valparaiso 14-25 (3-9 MVC)
Purdue Fort Wayne 12-30 (9-13 Horizon)

NCAA D-II
Indianapolis 20-25 (11-9 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 18-17 (7-13 GLIAC)
Southern Indiana 17-28 (6-14 GLVC)

NCAA D-III
Franklin 25-11 (10-4 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 22-10 (11-5 HCAC)
Earlham 21-9 (10-4 HCAC)
Wabash 20-13 (4-10 NCAC)
DePauw 17-15 (8-6 NCAC)
Anderson 17-17 (9-5 HCAC)
Hanover 16-18 (10-6 HCAC)
Trine 14-20 (9-9 MIAA)
Manchester 8-25 (4-10 HCAC)

NAIA
Taylor 36-16 (26-10 CL)
Indiana University Southeast 35-13 (20-4 RSC)
Indiana Tech 31-19 (13-7 WHAC)
Indiana Wesleyan 30-21 (23-13 CL)
Oakland City 28-19 (11-11 RSC)
Indiana University-Kokomo 26-20 (16-7 RSC)
Saint Francis 26-26 (15-21 CL)
Marian 25-25 (17-19 CL)
Bethel 25-27 (19-17 CL)
Huntington 24-21 (21-15 CL)
Grace 17-33 (10-26 CL)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 16-30 (11-18 CCAC)
Indiana University South Bend 15-30-1 (9-20-1 CCAC)
Goshen 11-39 (6-30 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 19-25 (9-13 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 15-18
Marian’s Ancilla 8-36 (6-18 MCCAA)

Week of April 25-May 1
NCAA D-I
Monday, April 25
Ball State 15, Northern Illinois 1

Tuesday, April 26
Indiana 9, Butler 1
Belmont 8, Evansville 2
Michigan State 8, Notre Dame 2
Purdue 6, Valparaiso 5 (10 inn.)

Wednesday, April 27
Indiana 3, Illinois State 1
Michigan State 7, Purdue Fort Wayne 4

Friday, April 29
Ball State 7, Central Michigan 1
Connecticut 8, Butler 7 (10 inn.)
Evansville 6, Bradley 5
Indiana 7, Illinois 6
Missouri State 7, Indiana State 6
Boston College 7, Notre Dame 4
Purdue 18, Michigan 4
Illinois-Chicago 7, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Southern Illinois 4, Valparaiso 0

Saturday, April 30
Ball State 6, Central Michigan 4
Ball State 10, Central Michigan 7
Connecticut 14, Butler 7
Evansville 8, Bradley 7
Illinois 18, Indiana 10
Missouri State 11, Indiana State 4
Notre Dame 11, Boston College 5
Purdue 12, Michigan 4
Illinois-Chicago 4, Purdue Fort Wayne 2
Southern Illinois 15, Valparaiso 12

Sunday, May 1
Ball State 4, Central Michigan 3
Connecticut 17, Butler 4
Evansville 15, Bradley 4
Indiana 11, Illinois 7
Indiana State 8, Missouri State 1
Notre Dame 16, Boston College 10
Michigan 13, Purdue 2
Illinois-Chicago 21, Purdue Fort Wayne 5
Valparaiso 11, Southern Illinois 10

NCAA D-II
Tuesday, April 26
Ohio Dominican 13, Indianapolis 3
Ohio Dominican 2, Indianapolis 1
Kentucky Wesleyan 11, Southern Indiana 7

Wednesday, April 27
Purdue Northwest 3, Wisconsin-Parkside 1
Wisconsin-Parkside 5, Purdue Northwest 0

Friday, April 29
Illinois-Springfield 15, Indianapolis 2
Wayne State 23, Purdue Northwest 4
Southern Indiana 12, Missouri S&T 9

Saturday, April 30
Indianapolis 9, Illinois-Springfield 8
Illinois-Springfield 11, Indianapolis 1
Wayne State 9, Purdue Northwest 2
Wayne State 9, Purdue Northwest 2
Southern Indiana 7, Missouri S&T 6
Missouri S&T 5, Southern Indiana 1

Sunday, May 1
Illinois-Springfield 11, Indianapolis 10 (10 inn.)
Purdue Northwest 11, Wayne State 10
Missouri S&T 5, Southern Indiana 1
Missouri S&T 12, Southern Indiana 9

NCAA D-III
Monday, April 25
Webster 5, Franklin 1
Webster 7, Franklin 1
Calvin 15, Trine 5

Tuesday, April 26
DePauw 12, Rose-Hulman 8
Hanover 19, Transylvania 7
Hanover 20, Transylvania 13
Huntington 10, Manchester 1

Wednesday, April 27
DePauw 11, Anderson 10
Denison 15, Hanover 8
Indiana Tech 15, Manchester 5
Rose-Hulman 5, Greenville 2

Friday, April 29
Earlham 7, Anderson 4
Anderson 7, Earlham 6

Saturday, April 30
Franklin 9, Transylvania 6
Franklin 5, Transylvania 4
Hanover 5, Defiance 1
Defiance 8, Hanover 4
Manchester 9, Mount St. Joseph 6
Mount St. Joseph 8, Manchester 7
Albion 8, Trine 4
Trine 3, Albion 1
Wabash 8, Hiram 6
Hiram 6, Wabash 5 (11 inn.)

Sunday, May 1
Marietta 13, Hanover 0
Rose-Hulman 3, Bluffton 0
Rose-Hulman 10, Bluffton 7
Trine 10, Albion 3

NAIA
Tuesday, April 26
IU Kokomo 7, Grace 2
Huntington 10, Manchester 1
St. Francis (Ill.) 9, Indiana Tech 8
Indiana Tech 10, St. Francis (Ill.) 2
IU Southeast 11, Cumberlands 9
Kentucky State 2, Oakland City 0
Kentucky State 2, Oakland City 0

Wednesday, April 27
Calumet of St. Joseph 5, Trinity International 4
Calumet of St. Joseph 6, Trinity International 1
Indiana Tech 15, Manchester 5
St. Francis (Ill.) 2, IU South Bend 1
St. Francis (Ill.) 6, IU South Bend 2

Thursday, April 28
IU Southeast 3, Midway 2
IU Southeast 8, Midway 7
Oakland City 3, Ohio Christian 2 (11 inn.)

Friday, April 29
Bethel 7, Saint Francis 4
Saint Francis 5, Bethel 4
Roosevelt 20, Calumet of St. Joseph 6
Roosevelt 5, Calumet of St. Joseph 2
Goshen 10, Spring Arbor 6
Spring Arbor 10, Goshen 3
Taylor 9, Grace 0
Taylor 16, Grace 0
Mount Vernon Nazarene 13, Huntington 0
Mount Vernon Nazarene 17, Huntington 16
IU Kokomo 8, Point Park 5
Point Park 5, IU Kokomo 4
IU Southeast 12, Midway 6
IU South Bend 12, Lincoln 7
Indiana Wesleyan 9, Marian 2
Indiana Wesleyan 11, Marian 3
Oakland City 10, Ohio Christian 9
Oakland City 7, Ohio Christian 6

Saturday, April 30
Bethel 5, Saint Francis 3
Bethel 2, Saint Francis 1
Roosevelt 4, Calumet of St. Joseph 1
Spring Arbor 13, Goshen 6
Spring Arbor 11, Goshen 9
Taylor 19, Grace 11
Taylor 9, Grace 8
Mount Vernon Nazarene 5, Huntington 0
Mount Vernon Nazarene 7, Huntington 0
Indiana Tech 8, Northwestern Ohio 1
Indiana Tech 5, Northwestern Ohio 2
Point Park 7, IU Kokomo 5
IU South Bend 15, Lincoln 6
Lincoln 1, IU South Bend 0 (10 inn.)
Indiana Wesleyan 8, Marian 3
Marian 8, Indiana Wesleyan 5

Junior College
Tuesday, April 26
Lincoln Trail 12, Vincennes 7

Thursday, April 28
Kellogg 11, Marian’s Ancilla 0
Kellogg 6, Marian’s Ancilla 0

Saturday, April 30
Kellogg 13, Marian’s Ancilla 2
Vincennes 17, Lewis & Clark 7
Lewis & Clark 11, Vincennes 4

Ball State’s Maloney reflects on milestone victory No. 900

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

When Ball State swept a doubleheader Saturday, April 23 at Northern Illinois it allowed Cardinals head coach Rich Maloney to reach the 900th victory of his career.
Maloney is in his 27th season as a college head coach with two stints at Ball State (1996-2002 and 2013-present) and one at Michigan (2003-12).
Ball State (24-14 overall, 18-4 in the Mid-American Conference) went on to win, Sunday, too. Game 4 of the series was slated for today (April 25). Maloney has won 580 games with the Cards.
“I have had the great privilege of coaching so many outstanding young men and coaching alongside so many outstanding assistants,” said Maloney Saturday. “Milestones like this give us a time to reflect on the many relationships built through the years.
“What a blessing!”
Ball State — which got wins from starters Tyler Schweitzer (Hamilton Southeastern High School graduate) and Ty Johnson (Lawrence North), both 6-2 in 2022, Saturday and Sunday — is chasing first-place Central Michigan (27-10, 21-1) in the MAC.
There are more coaching victory milestones on the horizon for NAIA Taylor’s Kyle Gould (597), NAIA Indiana Wesleyan’s Rich Benjamin (498), NAIA Bethel’s Seth Zartman (397), NAIA Marian’s Todd Bacon (195) and NCAA Division III DePauw’s Blake Allen (98).
The best weeks among the state’s 38 college baseball programs April 18-24 belonged to NAIA Indiana Tech at 6-0, NCAA Division-I Notre Dame at 5-0, NCAA Division III Wabash at 5-1, NAIA Calumet of St. Joseph at 5-1 and NAIA Oakland City 4-1.
Notre Dame won midweek games against Valparaiso and Purdue Fort Wayne and swept three from Atlantic Coast Conference foe Wake Forest. The Irish (26-8, 11-7) are tied with Louisville atop the ACC Atlantic Division. ND is No. 2 in the D1Baseball.com RPI behind Tennessee (37-3). Evansville is No. 67, Indiana State. No. 91, Ball State No, 123, Indiana No. 135, Purdue No. 163, Valparaiso No. 202, Butler No. 208 and Purdue Fort Wayne No. 237.
Indiana State (21-11 overall and tied for first in the Missouri Valley Conference at 6-3) tied a school record with six home runs in Sunday’s 12-9 loss to Evansville — two by Aaron Beck (Evansville Harrison) and one each by Tyler Nelson (Chesterton), Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo), Sean Ross and Keegan Watson (New Palestine).
Indiana Tech (27-18, 13-7 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference) won four WHAC games Saturday and Sunday by a combined 66-27. The Warriors and others are looking up conference leader Northwestern Ohio (32-9, 19-1).
Wabash (19-12) is now 4-4 in away games after a doubleheader split at Oberlin and twin bill sweep at Anderson.
Calumet of St. Joseph (14-27) earned all its wins for the week on the road. The same is true for Oakland City (25-17). The Mighty Oaks have already won eight more games in 2022 than 2021.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through April 24
NCAA D-I
Notre Dame 26-8 (11-7 ACC)
Ball State 24-14 (18-4 MAC)
Purdue 22-13 (4-6 Big Ten)
Indiana State 21-11 (6-3 MVC)
Evansville 21-17 (6-3 MVC)
Butler 18-22-1 (2-6-1 Big East)
Indiana 16-23 (4-8 Big Ten)
Valparaiso 13-22 (2-7 MVC)
Purdue Fort Wayne 12-25 (9-9 Horizon)

NCAA D-II
Indianapolis 19-20 (10-6 GLVC)
Purdue Northwest 16-13 (5-9 GLIAC)
Southern Indiana 15-25 (4-12 GLVC)

NCAA D-III
Franklin 23-9 (8-4 HCAC)
Earlham 20-8 (9-3 HCAC)
Rose-Hulman 19-9 (9-5 HCAC)
Wabash 19-12 (4-9 NCAC)
Anderson 16-15 (8-4 HCAC)
Hanover 13-15 (7-5 HCAC)
DePauw 13-15 (6-6 NCAC)
Trine 12-18 (7-7 MIAA)
Manchester 7-22 (3-9 HCAC)

NAIA
Taylor 32-16 (22-10 CL)
Indiana University Southeast 31-13 (17-4 RSC)
Indiana Tech 27-18 (13-7 WHAC)
Indiana Wesleyan 27-20 (20-12 CL)
Indiana University-Kokomo 25-17 (15-5 RSC)
Oakland City 25-17 (8-11 RSC)
Saint Francis 25-23 (14-18 CL)
Marian 24-22 (16-16 CL)
Huntington 22-18 (20-12 CL)
Bethel 22-26 (16-16 CL)
Grace 16-29 (10-22 CL)
Calumet of Saint Joseph 14-27 (9-15 CCAC)
Indiana University South Bend 12-27-1 (6-17-1 CCAC)
Goshen 10-36 (5-27 CL)

Junior College
Vincennes 18-23 (8-12 MWAC)
Ivy Tech Northeast 15-18
Marian’s Ancilla 8-32 (6-14 MCCAA)

Week of April 18-24
NCAA D-I
Tuesday, April 19
Western Michigan 14, Ball State 12
Butler 6, Northern Kentucky 5
Miami (Ohio) 9, Indiana 7
Indiana State 12, Illinois 6
Notre Dame 5, Valparaiso 1
Illinois-Chicago 9, Purdue 6

Wednesday, April 20
Butler 7, Dayton 2
Notre Dame 12, Purdue Fort Wayne 2

Friday, April 22
St. John’s 8, Butler 6
Indiana State 7, Evansville 6
Indiana 8, Nebraska 7
Belmont 3, Purdue 2
Notre Dame 8, Wake Forest 3
Purdue Fort Wayne 4, Northern Kentucky 2
Purdue Fort Wayne 4, Northern Kentucky 3

Saturday, April 23
Ball State 13, Northern Illinois 0
Ball State 6, Northern Illinois 1
St. John’s 8, Butler 7 (10 inn.)
Evansville 14, Indiana State 0
Indiana 8, Nebraska 1
Notre Dame 21, Wake Forest 3
Belmont 11, Purdue 1
Purdue Fort Wayne 10, Oakland 2
Oakland 10, Purdue Fort Wayne 2
Missouri State 14, Valparaiso 2
Missouri State 9, Valparaiso 4

Sunday, April 24
Ball State 9, Northern Illinois 5
Butler 12, St. John’s 12, tie
Evansville 12, Indiana State 9
Nebraska 19, Indiana 7
Belmont 8, Purdue 6
Oakland 10, Purdue Fort Wayne 9 (10 inn.)
Missouri State 6, Valparaiso 1
Notre Dame 13, Wake Forest 12
Northern Kentucky vs. Purdue Fort Wayne

NCAA D-II
Tuesday, April 19
Grand Valley State 10, Purdue Northwest 5
Purdue Northwest 5, Grand Valley State 4
Kentucky Wesleyan 4, Southern Indiana 14

Friday, April 22
Indianapolis 9, Davenport 1

Saturday, April 23
Davenport 12, Indianapolis 10
Davenport 18, Indianapolis 6
Lewis 10, Southern Indiana 9
Southern Indiana vs. Lewis
Purdue Northwest 22, Wisconsin-Parkside 0
Purdue Northwest 18, Wisconsin-Parkside 5

Sunday, April 24
Lewis 15, Southern Indiana 3
Lewis 8, Southern Indiana 5

NCAA D-III
Tuesday, April 19
Anderson 11, Bluffton 4
Bluffton 6, Anderson 0
Wittenberg 11, DePauw 10
DePauw 4, Wittenberg 3
Rose-Hulman 12, Franklin 10
Rose-Hulman 10, Franklin 4
Defiance 4, Manchester 2
Manchester 12, Defiance 11 (11 inn.)
Trine 22, Adrian 14
Wabash 8, Ohio Weselyan 2
Wabash 3, Ohio Weselyan 2

Wednesday, April 20
Indiana Tech 14, Manchester 4

Saturday, April 23
Anderson 8, Defiance 5
Anderson 7, Defiance 6
DePauw 16, Hiram 0
DePauw 11, Hiram 0
Earlham 8, Rose-Hulman 6
Earlham 11, Rose-Hulman 2
Franklin 5, Mt. St. Joseph 4
Franklin 14, Mt. St. Joseph 4
Hanover 10, Bluffton 8
Bluffton 13, Hanover 3
Calvin 7, Trine 3
Trine 7, Calvin 2
Oberlin 3, Wabash 2
Wabash 15, Oberlin 12 (10 inn.)

Sunday, April 24
Wabash 14, Anderson 5
Anderson 21, Wabash 6
Rose-Hulman 16, Wilmington 9
Manchester 5, Trine 4

NAIA
Monday, April 18
Calumet of St. Joseph 19, Lincoln 4
Calumet of St. Joseph 15, Lincoln 5
Grace 10, Marian 8
Marian 8, Grace 3

Tuesday, April 19
IU South Bend 8, Calumet of St. Joseph 4
Indiana Tech 18, Saint Francis 1
Oakland City 4, Bethel (Tenn.) 2
Oakland City 1, Bethel (Tenn.) 0

Wednesday, April 20
Siena Heights 4, Goshen 0
Siena Heights 6, Goshen 3
Indiana Tech 14, Manchester 4
Georgetown (Ky.) 4, IU Kokomo 3

Thursday, April 21
Spring Arbor 7, Bethel 5
Bethel 3, Spring Arbor 2
Mt. Vernon Nazarene 7, Grace 5
Mt. Vernon Nazarene 4, Grace 2
Indiana Wesleyan 11, Taylor 7
Taylor 6, Indiana Wesleyan 3

Friday, April 22
Huntington 15, Goshen 12
Goshen 6, Huntington 4
IU Southeast 10, IU Kokomo 3
Roosevelt 6, IU South Bend 5
Marian 6, Saint Francis 5
Marian 5, Saint Francis 1
Brescia 4, Oakland City 2

Saturday, April 23
Bethel 7, Spring Arbor 6
Bethel 12, Spring Arbor 10
Huntington 16, Goshen 12
Huntington 18, Goshen 3
Mt. Vernon Nazarene 11, Grace 10
Mt. Vernon Nazarene 7, Grace 3
Indiana Tech 20, Siena Heights 3
Indiana Tech 16, Siena Heights 1
IU Kokomo 12, IU Southeast 11
IU Southeast 18, IU Kokomo 2
Roosevelt 15, IU South Bend 3
Roosevelt 9, IU South Bend 5
Taylor 11, Indiana Wesleyan 1
Indiana Wesleyan 9, Taylor 5
Marian 11, Saint Francis 10
Saint Francis 13, Marian 8
Oakland City vs. Brescia
Oakland City vs. Brescia

Sunday, April 24
Indiana Tech 9, Lourdes 8
Indiana Tech 21, Lourdes 15

Junior College
Tuesday, April 19
Muskegon 3, Marian’s Ancilla 2
Muskegon 4, Marian’s Ancilla 3
Vincennes 5, Lincoln Trail 4 (10 inn.)

Wednesday, April 20
Lansing 14, Ivy Tech Northeast 0
Lansing 5, Ivy Tech Northeast 3

Friday, April 22
Wabash Valley 11, Ivy Tech Northeast 5
Wabash Valley 13, Ivy Tech Northeast 2
Kalamazoo Valley 10, Marian’s Ancilla 1
Kalamazoo Valley 1, Marian’s Ancilla 0
Vincennes 11, Illinois Central 3
Illinois Central 5, Vincennes 4

Saturday, April 23
Wabash Valley 12. Ivy Tech Northeast 1
Wabash Valley 14, Ivy Tech Northeast 4
Marian’s Ancilla 6, Kalamazoo Valley 5
Marian’s Ancilla 11, Kalamazoo Valley 9
Vincennes 11, Illinois Central 10
Illinois Central 9, Vincennes 1

Sunday, April 24
Ivy Tech Northeast 14, Trine JV 4
Ivy Tech Northeast 5, Trine JV 2

Fishers, Indiana Wesleyan alum Davis comes back to baseball as a coach

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

When Brice Davis got the call that led him into professional baseball he was busy on the field.
Davis was coaching third base for Indiana Wesleyan University in a doubleheader when the independent Frontier League’s Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers manager Jamie Bennett, who pitched of the DuBois County (Ind.) Dragons and Gary (Ind.) SouthShore RailCats coached with the RailCats, and outgoing hitting coach Derek Shomon reached out about filling Shomon’s spot since he had taken a coaching job in the Minnesota Twins organization.
“They wanted to see if I’d get rattled,” says Davis of the timing. “It was a twisted joke.”
But Davis impressed and after the twin bill received text messages and got a good review. The next thing he knew he is joining the Boomers for spring training and after that came a 96-game regular season and the fourth league championship in franchise history.
“It was whirlwind,” says Davis of the 2021 baseball season began in early February with Indiana Wesleyan in Lakeland, Fla., and ending in late September with Schaumburg in Washington, Pa. “It was an incredible year and an incredible ride.
“It was a really special group (at IWU). To be leaving them at that time was incredibly tough. I’m in awe that we got to share all those runs together.”
Indiana Wesleyan wound up 2021 at 44-14, Crossroads League regular-season and tournament champions and an NAIA Opening Round host.
Davis, a four-year starter at IWU and a 2013 graduate with a Sports Management degree, spent three seasons on the staff of Wildcats head coach Rich Benjamin (2019-21).
“He’s a huge offensive mind and about hitting for power,” says Davis of Benjamin, who was an assistant at Fishers (Ind.) High School before moving on. “I saw it as an opportunity.
“I wanted to see if I could hack it at the college level.”
Davis first became a hitting instructor in 2009 (his training business is Davis Baseball LLC). But it was a big transition to working with professional hitters in 2021.
“You’re helping prepare guys to be successful (in pro ball),” says Davis. “At the college level, you’re doing a lot of development. They’re making strides every single month to be the best versions of themselves and trying to stay locked in.
“Guys at the professional level are already pretty talented. They want to take their skill level and apply it against a pitching staff (or individual). In both arenas the goal is to simplify life. You pick out an approach that is going to breed results and success.”
The difference between high school and college and pro baseball is that the pros play everyday with much more travel and they don’t have as much time to work on their craft.
“Learning how to hit when you’re only 80 percent or getting your two knocks comes in a lot of ways,” says Davis. “I was amazed how many guys played hurt.”
How a player felt on any given day is how they prepared for that day’s game. That might mean more batting practice or less.
“You can’t treat everyday like Opening Day,” says Davis. “It just doesn’t work like that.”
Since Schaumburg is an independent league team, scouting is done differently. Major League-affiliated clubs have access to plenty of stored data on opponents.
The only resource available to the Boomers staff was Frontier League TV (2021 was the first year that all league clubs broadcast games). Coaches and players spent a lot of time looking at video to find tendencies.
The Evansville Otters were the only team who put pitching velocity on the screen during their broadcasts, leaving Schaumburg to study those videos when teams took on Evansville.
In the league championship series against the Washington Wild Things, the staff was at a disadvantage. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boomers had not played anyone on Washington’s side of the league during the regular season. Also, there was no radar gun reading available at Wild Things Park.
“It was all hearsay. You had no more information than in a non-conference high school baseball game. It was ‘see it and hit it, boys!’
It was absolute gauntlet level from our staff and our players. It’s not copy-paste-print like it is at some of the other levels. It’s not like high school baseball where you can trade tapes.
“It was a big learning curve.”
Davis notes that the Frontier League is now partnered with Major League Baseball so maybe things will change for the better.
Not all pro players take to information the same way.
“This guy wants to know velo and out pitch and this guy wants to know as much as possible,” says Davis. “Other guys don’t want to know anything and just play the game.”
And if a pro hitter doesn’t want info, it’s not up to the coach to shove it down his throat.
“You have respect for what they’re trying to do,” says Davis.
While Schaumburg players hail from all over the country, there are also a number with ties to the area, including former Indiana Wesleyan pitcher Isaiah Rivera from Des Plaines, Ill.
“There are a lot of college players in the region,” says Davis. “You don’t want to miss on anything in your back yard. Chicago is a cool city with a lot of great athletes in it.”
Davis says many have the misconception that independent ball is full of 27-year-old has-beens. But a good deal have been selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft and spent time in the affiliated minors.
The Frontier League is unique because it puts players into Rookie, Experienced and Veteran eligibility classifications and there is a cap on veterans (those turning 29 by Oct. 1). Teams can also make just 30 transaction moves per season.
“The world of independent baseball is fascinating,” says Davis.
Another thing about 2021 in much of independent ball is that there was no season in 2020 because of the pandemic.
“They’re learning how to play baseball again and getting their timing back,” says Davis. “It’s like they’ve been waiting for the prom for two years.
“It was about managing emotions, telling them to enjoy the moment and don’t overthink it.”
There was a time when Davis didn’t want to think about baseball. It stung too much when his playing career was over and he did not watch a game for two years.
Brice’s father was a high school boys basketball coach for many years. Hagerstown, Ind., native Jerry Davis was a head coach at Triton Central and Wawasee and an assistant at Marion and Hamilton Southeastern. He came back to Indiana from Dallas, where Brice was born, to teach math and coach hoops.
“I grew up in the gym,” says Brice. “My safe place to process life was listening to bouncing balls. That’s a sanctuary few people understand.”
Davis, who did not play high school basketball to focus on baseball opportunities, joined the Hamilton Southeastern hardwood staff of Brian Satterfield and coached freshmen for two seasons.
“Climbing up the hard way in basketball appealed to me,” says Davis. “Going to clinics and studying tape was a journey in itself.”
Then came the call back to baseball and he answered it.
“I’m in a better head space when I’m going to the field,” says Davis, who received words of encouragement that still resonate with him.
Brian Abbott, the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association executive director and a former IWU assistant, approached Davis at the IHSBCA State Clinic when the latter was on Matt Cherry’s Fishers Tigers staff.
“He was one of the first people who told me I needed to be in coaching,” says Davis of Abbott, the IHSBCA Hall of Famer. “It’s because of kids like myself. He said, ‘you belong in this industry. You might be the only person who gets to tell a kid that day that they matter.
“You have a purpose to connect with kids.”
Davis has taken that connection to heart.
“I love teaching the game,” says Davis. “I know it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. A lot of good can be done by powerful teaching and coaching.
“It’s a great profession.”
Davis, who was part of Fishers’ first graduating class in 2008, was reunited with Cherry for three seasons (2016-18) as an assistant coach. The 2018 team made an IHSAA Class 4A state title run.
“He’s single-most influential person in my life besides my dad since I was 15,” says Davis of Cherry. “He knows there’s more to people than baseball. He’s transformational.”
Cherry, who had coached Davis prior to the 2016 season he needed a freshman coach. Davis accepted the invitation.
“I’ll be darned if I wasn’t completely consumed,” says Davis. “I told (Cherry) the next year I want to be a varsity coach. I want to be with the older kids. I want to dive in and see where it could go.”
In 2017 and 2018, Davis was Fishers’ hitting coach. The latter team set 21 school records.
“We had all the fun in the world,” says Davis.
Now 32 and living in Wheeling, Ill., Davis is teaching at area facilities, including Parkway Bank Sports Complex aka The Dome in Rosemont, Ill., and East Sports Academy in Itaska, Ill., and helping at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines. Owls head coach Bill Fratto is also an assistant/first base coach for the Boomers.
Through it all, Davis has developed a fraternity of brothers at each baseball stage and keeps in-touch with people on his high school, college and pro path. Kris Holtzleiter, the new Eastbrook High School head coach, played and coached with close friend Davis at IWU.
“Every season has a story whether it’s good or bad,” says Davis. “You must make the most of the moment you’re in.
“It’s not about the championships or the trophies.”
It’s the people.

Brice Davis.
Jerry Davis and Brice Davis.
Brice Davis with mother Jerry and mother Paige.
Brice Davis and M.J. Stavola.
Bill Fratto and Brice Davis.
Young Schaumburg (Ind.) Boomers fan and Brice Davis.
Former Indiana Wesleyan University players Isaiah Rivera and Brice Davis a player and coach with the Schaumburg Boomers.

Righty Ledbetter’s route leads to Indiana

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

Collin Ledbetter was born and raised in Arizona, but the Midwest has also been pretty good to him as he has pursued higher levels of education and baseball.
In the summer of 2021, the right-handed pitcher experienced his first opportunity to play for pay in the United Shores Professional Baseball League.
The 25-year-old arrived this week back in his adopted hometown of Indianapolis where he will plot his future.
Ledbetter is a 2015 graduate of Northwest Christian School in Phoenix. He arrived at the same time as head baseball coach and former Colorado Rockies minor leaguer Rod Bair and was with the varsity for four years.
“We’re still great friends until this day,” says Ledbetter of Bair. “He had a great impact on me as a player and on my growth as a man as well.”
Starting out his college baseball journey in the Valley of the Sun, Ledbetter joined the Dave Grant-coached Glendale (Ariz.) Community College team and pitched for the Gauchos in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
“(Glendale) has a great reputation — not only in Arizona — but around the country,” says Ledbetter. “I remember being intimidated going into the program. Coach Grant was a real encourager.
“He always gave guys a chance to prove themselves and was always there for help when you needed it.”
Ledbetter was recruited out of high school by Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. David Mitroff was the Golden Eagles head coach at the time. In Ledbetter’s second year at Glendale, Mitroff moved to Phoenix and became a reference for the pitcher’s next move.
Mitroff connected Ledbetter with coaching friend Rich Benjamin at Indiana Wesleyan University. After visiting the IWU campus in Marion, the player decided that it was the best fit for him and came to the Midwest.
“(Indiana Wesleyan) was an up-and-coming NAIA program looking to add pitching depth,” says Ledbetter. “It was the right place for me. It is Christian and a private school. My faith is very important to me.
“Coach Benjamin focused on creating an atmosphere where Jesus was first before baseball. Obviously, he wanted to win. He wanted us to use our talent to the best of our ability to God’s glory.”
Kris Holtzleiter was the Indiana Wesleyan pitching coach during Ledbetter’s time with the Wildcats.
“He’s one of the best encouragers I know,” says Ledbetter of Holtzleiter. “There’s nobody that doesn’t like him. He focuses on the positives, never the negatives.
“As someone who is hard on myself and expects a lot out of myself, I appreciated that.”
Ledbetter herniated a disc in his back that required surgery and redshirted in 2018 – his junior year — after playing in just six games.
At about the same time, Collin’s parents Paul and Deb and younger siblings Lauren and Carson moved from Arizona to Indianapolis to be closer to extended family.
Collin pitched for IWU — getting into eight games (five in relief) with a 0-2 record, 8.47 earned run average, 17 strikeouts and 10 walks in 17 innings – and received a bachelors degree in Sports Management in 2019.
Wishing to pursue a Masters in Sport Management on an accelerated timeline with cost in mind, Ledbetter opted to transfer to Campbellsville (Ky.) University and used his redshirt senior season with the NAIA Tigers in 2020.
“(Head coach Beauford Sanders and pitching coach Brett Neffendorf) loved to win more than anyone I’ve ever played for,” says Ledbetter, who pitched in three games and 2 2/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA during the truncated 2020 campaign. “That’s a great thing. That was important to me.”
Ledbetter said the coaches were no-nonsense and helped players focus on short-term and long-term goals.
After his time at Campbellsville was there more baseball for Ledbetter?
He sure hoped so.
“The goal was always to play professional baseball and keep playing as long as I can,” says Ledbetter.
But there was plenty of uncertainty. Minor League Baseball canceled its 2020 season and many independent leagues followed suit.
Ledbetter kept himself in shape and began training with Jay Lehr at Pro X Athlete Development in Westfield, Ind.
“Jay really took me under his wing,” says Ledbetter, who had the chance to play catch with former big league pitcher Drew Storen and central Indiana minor leaguers like Parker Dunshee and Nolan Watson. “I saw a lot of development as a pitcher.
“I started showing signs of improvement and that I had the stuff to play at the next level.”
Ledbetter reached out to teams and leagues, including the four-team, Utica, Mich.-based USPBL (Birmingham Bloomfield Beavers, Eastside Diamond Hoppers, Utica Unicorns and Westside Woolly Mammoths).
It was only a matter of hours when director of operations Jason Orenduff replied to his email and he soon found himself headed to Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, about 25 miles north of Detroit.
Assigned to the Woolly Mammoths, the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder Ledbetter was a relief pitcher for a team co-managed by John Dombrowski and Taylor Grzelakowski.
“They definitely had our best interests in mind at all times,” says Ledbetter. “It was a fun atmosphere at the field every day.”
USPBL games were played Thursday through Sunday. There was no practice on Mondays and it was an optional weight room day. There were practices on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We were split into position groups,” says Ledbetter. “Pitchers went through an extensive stretching routine. As a reliever I had to be ready at all times. Tuesday was usually my bullpen days with 20-25 pitches and weights. Wednesdays I’d play catch and work on off-speed grips from 60 feet.”
Ledbetter said gameday routines were based on the individual needs of each player. Some recovered faster than others.
“We would hold each other accountable,” says Ledbetter, who made 21 mound appearances (20 in relief) with a 2-4 mark, three saves, 2.78 ERA, 23 K’s and 22 walks in 27 2/3 innings.
While Ledbetter has received an invitation to return to the USPBL in 2022, the league does have a two-year cap.
“Their goal is to push guys out of their as quickly as they can,” says Ledbetter. “They want everybody to be signed my an affiliated team.
“They saw a lot of growth in me as a player. They want the best for everyone. They’ve encouraged me to look at my other options.”
Taking a break to re-set physically and mentally, Ledbetter does not plan to begin throwing again for three or four weeks.
Meanwhile he will pursue a part-time job and may give private lessons.
He will also take the time to enjoy family. Paul Ledbetter is in the insurance business. Deb Ledbetter is a former flight attendant. Lauren Ledbetter (21) is a radiology technician. Carson Ledbetter (19) is attending trade school to become an electrician.
Collin is not related to twins Ryan and David Ledbetter, but he has formed a relationship with the former pitchers at Heritage Christian High School, Cedarville (Ohio) University and the Texas Rangers organization.
Ryan Ledbetter works for a company that has done business with Paul Ledbetter’s firm. Over time, Collin got to know both Ryan and David.
“We hit it off,” says Collin. “We’ve kept in-touch ever since.”

Collin Ledbetter (USPBL Photo)
Collin Ledbetter (United Shores Professional Baseball League Photo)
Collin Ledbetter (United Shores Professional Baseball League Photo)

Brantley promotes total student-athlete experience at Indiana University Kokomo

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

Just over a month after being named head baseball coach at Indiana University Kokomo, Drew Brantley is busy laying the foundation for the Cougars system.
Classes began Aug. 23. Brantley is overseeing two weeks of open field workouts before fall practice officially begins Labor Day (Sept. 6). There will be sessions six days a week for eight weeks culminating Oct. 30. Then the NAIA member Cougars move into the weight room and begin the build-up to the spring. There will be no games against outside competition this fall. There will be three scrimmages per week at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
“It’ll be heavy on individual development as a baseball player,” says Brantley. “We’ll compete in a game-like situations.”
As the Cougars ready themselves for the River States Conference race, they will open the 2022 season with trips to play Louisiana State University Shreveport and Truett McConnelll University (Cleveland, Ga.).
Brantley, who has been on staff the past three seasons including the last two as associate head coach, knows what he desires in an IU Kokomo player.
“I want to get good people into the program,” says Brantley, who turned 29 on Aug. 22. “We want them to have the total student-athlete experience — athletically, academically and socially.”
The idea is to achieve on the field and in the classroom and build friendships and contacts that will last long beyond the college years.
Brantley’s staff includes Jeremy Honaker, Nick Floyd and Justin Reed. Honaker, who was volunteer assistant at the University of Indianapolis in 2020-21, will serve as a positional coach and also help with hitting and baserunning. Former Ball State University and independent professional right-hander Floyd is the Cougars’ pitching coach. Former IU Kokomo player Reed is a graduate assistant and assistant pitching coach. He will work toward his Masters of Business Administration, help in athletic communications and with the baseball team.
Prior to coming to IUK to serve on head coach Matt Howard’s staff, Brantley was an assistant to head coach Rich Benjamin at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“I worked with infielders and baserunners and assisted with hitters,” says Brantley. “My time at Indiana Wesleyan was awesome. The integrity of the program is held very highly there. I learned how you hold people accountable and how things are supposed to be done.”
Brantley assisted at his alma mater Anderson (Ind.) University for five seasons with a stint as interim coach. Medical issues mean that he was only able to play his freshmen season for David Pressley before becoming a student assistant.
“He was an awesome guy and a great role model,” says Brantley of Pressley, who followed American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Don Brandon as the man in charge at AU. “A large part of my coaching philosophy comes from (Anderson).”
Dustin Glant later took over a Anderson Ravens head coach and was helped by Brantley.
“I was able to learn a lot under Dustin,” says Brantley. “He showed me the ropes and what its like to conduct yourself professionally. It’s not just about baseball.
“A lot of the success I’ve had has been because of the things he’s showed me and the advice he’s given me.”
Glant is now pitching coach at Indiana University.
At 22, Brantley was named interim coach at Anderson, where he earned his Secondary Education and Teaching degree in 2015 and MBA in 2017.
Says Brantley, “Everyday I was doing the best I knew how.”
The same applies in his current position.
“It’s pretty neat being in this seat,” says Brantley, who guides a program in the town where he was born.
Brantley grew up in Russiaville, Ind., and played T-ball through age 12 at what is now Russiaville Youth Baseball League. After that came travel ball with the Central Indiana Kings then three summers with Don Andrews-managed Kokomo American Legion Post 6.
His coach at Western High School in Russiaville was Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Ty Calloway.
After becoming a coach himself, Brantley came to learn how Calloway “coached ‘em up the right way.”
“As a player, he held us to a really high standard,” says Brantley. “He was always on us in practice. Whatever we were doing that day we were going to give our best effort.”
Brantley played three seasons for the Panthers, sitting out his junior year to recuperate from cardiac arrest. In his senior year of 2011, he was an IHSBCA Class 3A first-team all-state second baseman.
“I have an incredible support system,” says Drew, who is the son of Chrysler employee Ron and dental receptionist Angie and younger brother of Alaina. Ron Brantley has been coaching baseball since he was 20 and will help out this fall at IU Kokomo.
Brantley’s first experience as a baseball coach came with a Howard County travel team called the Indiana Flyers. He was with that team from the fall of 2012 through the summer of 2015.
There was also a stint working for Chris Estep as a hitting and defensive instructor at RoundTripper Sports Academy in Westfield, Ind.
“He gave me an opportunity to work with younger kids and allowed me to fail a lot,” says Brantley. “Being at RoundTripper was awesome.”

Drew Brantley (Indiana University Kokomo Photo)

Tourney time here in NAIA, NCAA D-III; many teams close seasons

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The 2021 NAIA Opening Round baseball tournament begins Monday, May 17 and three Indiana teams will be involved.

No. 2 seed Indiana Wesleyan (43-12) and No. 5 Indiana Tech (31-25) are part of the five-team Marion (Ind.) Bracket at Indiana Wesleyan.

IWU, coached by Rich Benjamin, won the regular-season and tournament titles in the Crossroads League.

Indiana Tech, coached by Kip McWilliams, was the regular-season champion in the Wolverine-Hoosier Conference.

No. 2 seed Indiana University Southeast (45-14) will be one of five teams competing in the Kingsport (Tenn.) Bracket.

IU Southeast, coached by Ben Reel, was the regular season and tournament champion in the River States Conference.

The NAIA season has ended for Taylor (37-20), Saint Francis (34-22), Huntington (33-16), Indiana University-Kokomo (28-20), Marian (25-29), Indiana University South Bend (24-24), Oakland City (17-27), Bethel (15-39), Grace (12-31), Calumet of Saint Joseph (7-29) and Goshen (3-34).

The 34 wins is a single-season school record for Saint Francis and Panthers coach Dustin Butcher.

Franklin (25-12), Earlham (23-18) and Anderson ( 20-17) were among teams winning opening round series and making it to the five-team finals in the NCAA Division III Heartland Collegiate Conference tournament.

Transylvania and Bluffton will be the other two teams. The tourney is to conclude Sunday, May 23.

The 2021 season is over for Indiana’s other D-III programs — Rose-Hulman (23-14), Hanover (20-20), Manchester (19-22), Wabash (18-15), DePauw (15-21) and Trine (6-28).

NCAA D-III teams Indianapolis (27-21), Southern Indiana (24-20) and Purdue Northwest (11-22) have also seen their slates come to a close.

Ivy Tech Northwest (31-25) lost 2-1 to Kellogg in a three-game National Junior College Athletic Association Regional in Battle Creek, Mich., and wrapped its season.

Max Flock homered three times and collected five hits and six runs batted in as Vincennes swept a doubleheader from Spoon River and made the Mid-West Athletic Conference tournament May 20-23 in Normal, Ill.

NJCAA member Ancilla (6-29) has concluded its season.

NCAA Division I Notre Dame (26-10) was idle in Atlantic Coast Conference play and yet the Irish earned the program’s first regular season title since 2006 by winning the ACC Atlantic Division.

ND has one more ACC series May 20-22 at Virginia Tech before the conference tournament in Charlotte, N.C.

Indiana (24-12, 24-12) is second in the Big Ten Conference to Nebraska (25-11, 25-11). The Hoosiers have eight more conference games remaining. There will be no Big Ten tournament.

Ball State (32-16, 23-9) holds a slight lead on Central Michigan (32-17, 23-10) at the top of the Mid-American Conference standings. 

BSU has a May 21-23 road series against Ohio and May 28-30 home series with Miami (Ohio) before the postseason.

The eight-team Missouri Valley Conference tournament is scheduled for May 25-29 in Carbondale, Ill. Right now Dallas Baptist (31-13, 16-4) and Indiana State (25-15, 12-8) are the top two seeds with Evansville (26-24, 9-14) No. 6 and Valparaiso (14-29, 9-15) No. 7.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL

Records Through May 16

NCAA Division I

Ball State 32-16 (23-9 MAC) 

Notre Dame 26-10 (22-10 ACC) 

Indiana State 25-15 (12-8 MVC) 

Evansville 26-24 (9-14 MVC) 

Indiana 24-12 (24-12 Big Ten) 

Valparaiso 14-29 (9-15 MVC) 

Purdue 11-24 (11-24 Big Ten) 

Butler 11-22 (5-12 Big East) 

Purdue Fort Wayne 10-32 (7-25 HL) 

NCAA Division II

Indianapolis 27-21 (19-13 GLVC) 

Southern Indiana 24-20 (18-14 GLVC) 

Purdue Northwest 11-22 (5-19 GLIAC) 

NCAA Division III

Franklin 25-12 (23-12 HCAC)

Rose-Hulman 23-14 (23-12 HCAC)

Earlham 23-18 (21-18 HCAC)

Anderson 20-17 (20-17 HCAC)

Hanover 20-20 (20-18 HCAC) 

Manchester 19-22 (19-20 HCAC) 

Wabash 18-15 (9-6 NCAC) 

DePauw 15-21 (8-8 NCAC) 

Trine 6-28 (6-17 MIAA) 

NAIA

Indiana University Southeast 45-14 (26-1 RSC) 

Indiana Wesleyan 43-12 (28-4 CL) 

Taylor 37-20 (24-12 CL) 

Saint Francis 34-22 (23-13 CL) 

Huntington 33-16 (23-13 CL) 

Indiana Tech 31-25 (16-6 WHAC) 

Indiana University-Kokomo 28-20 (16-10 RSC) 

Marian 25-29 (17-19 CL) 

Indiana University South Bend 24-24 (19-11 CCAC) 

Oakland City 17-27 (10-17 RSC) 

Bethel 15-39 (12-24 CL) 

Grace 12-31 (9-23 CL) 

Calumet of Saint Joseph 7-29 (7-20 CCAC) 

Goshen 3-34 (2-26 CL) 

Junior College

Ivy Tech Northeast 31-25 

Vincennes 23-29 (11-21 MWAC) 

Ancilla 6-29 (2-18 MCCAA) 

Conferences

NCAA Division I

Big Ten

Atlantic Coast (ACC)

Big East 

Horizon (HL)

Mid-American (MAC)

Missouri Valley (MVC)

NCAA Division II

Great Lakes Valley (GLVC)

Great Lakes Intercollegiate (GLIAC)

NCAA Division III

Heartland Collegiate (HCAC)

Michigan Intercollegiate (MIAA)

NAIA

Crossroads League (CL)

Chicagoland Collegiate (CCAC)

Wolverine Hoosier (WHAC)

River States Conference (RSC)

Junior College 

Mid-West Athletic (MWAC)

Michigan Community College (MCCAA)

Thixton going out with a bang at Indiana Wesleyan

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Tye Thixton figures he was born to play baseball.

He is named for his great grandfather on his mother Amy’s side — Leonus “Tye” Goheen, a standout pitcher in Kentucky in the 1920’s and 1930’s who once was matched up against a young Hall of Famer-to-be Dizzy Dean

Goheen led the Dawson Springs Daylight Ball Club to the state championship in 1932 and an appearance in the Little World Series in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1937.

When Tye Thixton was but a tyke his father — Jeff Thixton — introduced his oldest son to the game with wiffleball and followed him all the way through youth and travel ball and college until his passing at 50 on Jan. 10, 2020 with wife Amy and sons Tye and Trey surviving. 

“We bonded a lot of the time through baseball,” says Tye, who was granted an extra year of eligibility at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind,, because of the COVID-19 pandemic that shortened the 2020 season and is shining in 2021 (Trey Thixton, 20, is a sophomore on the IWU men’s tennis team). “I want to leave it all on the field for dad.”

Tye has his father’s initials — JLT — on his wrist tape and writes them in the dirt each time he comes up to bat.

Thixton’s Indiana Wesleyan team, which also features “COVID seniors” Tanner Killian, Austin Swift and Jon Young, goes into a Crossroads League series today (April 16) and Saturday (April 17) against visiting Huntington at 32-11 overall and 21-3 in conference play. The team has its sights on being the program’s first 40-game winner.

Center fielder and lead-off man Thixton is hitting .349 (60-of-172) with 11 home runs, one triple, 11 doubles, 45 runs batted in, 48 runs scored and is 15-of-15 in stolen bases. He sports an 1.039 OPS (.423 on-base percentage plus .616 slugging average) with 20 multi-hit games.

For his IWU career, Thixton is hitting .360 (151-of-419) with 21 homers, three triples, 28 doubles, 96 RBIs, 106 runs and is 29-of-32 in stolen bases. His OPS is 1.020 (.428 on-base percentage plus .592 slugging average).

Thixton’s most-recent circuit clout came Monday, April 13 in Game 1 of a CL doubleheader against Taylor. The two-run shot in the fourth inning to left field cut through a steady cross wind and landed on the football stadium next to Wildcat Field.

“Off the bat I was thinking, ‘get on 2,’” says Thixton. “The fact that it got out gave us a lot of momentum and helped us get into their pen.

“My whole game has changed. I’m a little bit of a power threat this year. I think the COIVD year helped guys develop. We got to spend more time in the weight room and more time to work on the swing.

“Across the board players progressing and numbers on the pitching and hitting side a lot better.”

A center fielder and No. 1 hitter in the batting order since his days at Center Grove High School in Greenwood, Ind., Thixton relishes both roles.

“I like being able to run the outfield,” says Thixton. “It’s fun playing gap-to-gap.

“I’ve always loved being a lead-off hitter — just being able to set the tone of the game.”

Thixton, 23, is finishing up his Business Management degree. Commencement at IWU is slated for May 1.

“I’ll be done,” says Thixton of his college days which began with two years at Danville (Ill.) Area Community College, including a team MVP season in 2018. “Then I get on to the real world.”

Competing against NAIA No. 1-ranked Southeastern in Florida and No. 6 Faulkner in Alabama to begin the season in February, the Wildcats got off to an 0-7 start.

“We got walked off three times in seven games,” says Thixton. “But we knew we could compete with the highest level. We could’ve easily won three of four of those games.

“Nobody’s head was down. It was time to go on a win streak.”

And that’s just what IWU did. 

The Wildcats won their next 16 under the guidance of head coach Rich Benjamin.

“He loves all of his players,” says Thixton. “He’s done such a good job of bringing a team together and making guys want to play for each other and for him.

“We’ve got a good mix of all ages. Guys able to learn from each other. That’s really contributed to this year.”

Going through the uncertainty of the pandemic has also impacted the team’s outlook.

“We’ve played every game with the thought it could be our last,” says Thixton.

Born in Greenwood, Thixton started school at Clark Elementary in Whiteland and played at Whiteland Little League then moved to the Center Grove area as a third grader and he attended the former West Grove Elementary. 

He played in the Center Grove Little League then travel ball with a Center Grove team coached by Mike Chitwood that morphed into Indiana Elite Baseball and Pony Express Baseball, where his coaches were Kyle Beachy, Quentin Brown and Grant Bellak

“(Brown and Bellak) were a blast to be around,” says Thixton. “They helped me develop my game so much. 

Thixton graduated from Center Grove High School in 2016. Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dave Gandolph was in his final season with the Trojans while Thixton played on the junior varsity as a freshman. 

Keith Hatfield was Thixton’s varsity coach for three CG seasons.

What is Thixton’s impressions of Hatfield?

“It’s his passion for the game,” says Thixton. “We had so much fun playing with Coach Hatfield (in 2016).

“We had a talented group of seniors. We lost to (eventual IHSAA Class 4A state champion) Roncalli in the (Plainfield) Semistate.”

Clayton Hicks, who is now head coach at Danville Area, was an assistant when he recruited Thixton for the Jaguars and got him to play for head coach Tim Bunton.

“He’s the best baseball mind I’ve ever been around,” says Thixton of Bunton. “He took my game to a completely different level mentally.

“It was about winning every pitch and winning the little things in baseball.

“There are so many metrics now. But the game still comes down to the mental side and what to do when the ball is in play

“What you can do at-bat to help your team team?”

In two seasons at Danville Area (2017 and 2018), Thixton hit .376 (139-of-369) in 101 games (98 starts).

In the summers after his freshman and sophomore years, Thixton played for the Hicks-managed Hannibal Hoots in 2017 and the St. Louis Kats in 2018.

Tye Thixton (Indiana Wesleyan University Photo)

Indiana’s college baseball teams take to the diamond for ’21

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Cabin fever and cold temperatures have been a reality in Indiana this winter.

But it’s beginning to thaw in many places. College baseball games have been played in the state and institutions from the state have traveled to open the 2021 season.

There are 38 college baseball programs in Indiana — Ball State (Head coach Rich Maloney), Butler (Dave Schrage), Evansville (Wes Carroll), Notre Dame (Link Jarrett), Purdue (Greg Goff), Purdue Fort Wayne (Doug Schreiber), Indiana (Jeff Mercer), Indiana State (Mitch Hannahs) and Valparaiso (Brian Schmack) in NCAA Division I, Indianapolis (Al Ready), Purdue Northwest (Dave Griffin) and Southern Indiana (Tracy Archuleta) in NCAA Division II, Anderson (Matt Bair), DePauw (Blake Allen), Earlham (Steve Sakosits), Franklin (Lance Marshall), Hanover (Grant Bellak), Manchester (Rick Espeset), Rose-Hulman (Jeff Jenkins), Trine (Greg Perschke) and Wabash (Jake Martin) in NCAA Division III, Bethel (Seth Zartman), Calumet of Saint Joseph (Brian Nowakowski), Goshen (Alex Childers), Grace (Ryan Roth), Huntington (Mike Frame), Marian (Todd Bacon), Oakland City (Andy Lasher), Taylor (Kyle Gould), Indiana University-Kokomo (Matt Howard), Indiana University South Bend (Doug Buysse), Indiana University Southeast (Ben Reel), Indiana Tech (Kip McWilliams), Indiana Wesleyan (Rich Benjamin) and Saint Francis (Dustin Butcher) in NAIA and Ancilla (Chris Woodruff), Ivy Tech Northeast (Lance Hershberger) and Vincennes (Chris Barney) in NJCAA — and 26 have already heard “Play Ball!”

Where they’ve been allowed, fans have been in the stands. Others have followed on internet streams.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have altered traditional schedules. Many have gone to longer series to limit travel.

So who’s off to the hottest starts?

Coming off a four-game series sweep against IU Southeast, Huntington is 7-0.

Taylor got the earliest start of any college team in the start, opening its season Jan. 22 in Arizona. The Trojans are 11-6.

Ball State leads D-I clubs at 4-3. The Cardinals split a season-opening series at Arizona.

The Big Ten opted to play conference games only in ’21. Indiana opens March 5 in Minneapolis and will play games against Minnesota and Rutgers.

Meanwhile, Purdue will also open a four-game series against Nebraska in Round Rock, Texas, on March 5.

Purdue Northwest is also scheduled to get going March 5.

Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference teams Earlham, Franklin, Hanover and Manchester open up March 6. Anderson and Rose-Hulman get into the act March 7.

Trine’s lid-lifter is slated for March 13.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL

Records Through Feb. 28

NCAA Division I

Ball State 4-3

Evansville 3-3

Indiana State 3-4

Notre Dame 2-1

Purdue Fort Wayne 1-3

Valparaiso 1-5 

Butler 0-0

Indiana 0-0

Purdue 0-0

NCAA Division II

Southern Indiana 2-1

Indianapolis 1-5

Purdue Northwest 0-0

NCAA Division III

DePauw 1-1

Wabash 1-1

Anderson 0-0

Earlham 0-0

Franklin 0-0

Hanover 0-0

Manchester 0-0

Rose-Hulman 0-0

Trine 0-0

NAIA

Taylor 11-6

Huntington 7-0

Oakland City 6-4

Saint Francis 6-5

Marian 6-6

Indiana University Southeast 5-10

Indiana Wesleyan 4-7

Indiana University-Kokomo 3-4

Bethel 2-8

Grace 1-3

Goshen 0-2

Indiana University South Bend 0-4 

Indiana Tech 0-7

Calumet of Saint Joseph 0-0

Junior College

Vincennes 2-6

Ancilla 2-6

Ivy Tech Northeast 0-1

Indiana Wesleyan’s Holtzleiter sees building rapport with players as coaching key

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Coaches are in the people business.

To develop the athletes in their charge to the fullest, they must know what makes them tick.

Kris Holtzleiter, the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for the Indiana Wesleyan University baseball program, discovered this before he was still a player at the NAIA school in Marion and he has applied it at his coaching stops.

He grew up in Upland, Ind., and attended Eastbrook High School outside Marion, graduating in 2002. Brian Abbott was the Panthers head coach and lefty-throwing Holtzleiter was a center fielder and pitcher.

“He was a great mentor,” says Holtzleiter of Abbott, who has long been pitching coach at Huntington University and the executive director of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association. “He understand how to communicate with people and build relationships.

“Relationships are the fundamental piece to coaching baseball. It’s the whole purpose behind it.”

Holtzleiter played four seasons and graduated from Indiana Wesleyan. The first few years, Mike Burchette served as pitching coach after that Wildcats head coach Mark DeMichael used student assistants.

“He did not have a ton of resources at the time,” says Holtzleiter of DeMichael, who is now the school’s athletic director. “He was basically running the entire program by himself.

“Looking back, I am incredibly impressed. You have to be really organized to run a two-hour practice and do everything by yourself.”

Holtzleiter’s first two years in coaching were 2010 and 2011 at Eastbrook. The first year he was a varsity assistant and the second head junior varsity coach.

He was an IWU assistant to head coach Chad Newhard from August 2011 to December 2012 and was then hired as head coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School near Wabash, Ind. He led the Knights for four seasons (2013-16).

The year before he arrived, Southwood went 1-26 and it had been many years since the Knights had won as many as 10 games in a season.

“There was not many expectations,” says Holtzleiter. “I began finding out what their goals were — individually and as a team.

“The biggest thing I learned (at Southwood) was about communicating and building relationships with the kids. If you do that, they’ll respond well to you.”

Holtzleiter guided the 2014 squad to the program’s first sectional championship in 11 years. The 2015 and 2016 clubs won back-to-back Three Rivers Conference titles. Several players went on to college baseball.

From there, Holtzleiter went back to Indiana Wesleyan to join a coaching staff led by Rich Benjamin.

He found another coach with the same foundation.

“He desires relationships,” says Holtzleiter of Benjamin. “He’s a good communicator. He wants to communicate openly and be honest with his guys.

“He’s also open about his faith.”

Through a common friend, Benjamin invited former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to lead a team devotional via video conference. Because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic that shortened the 2020 season to 19 games (the Wildcats went 10-9), coaches and players were communicating while practicing social distancing leading up to spring term finals last week.

The coaching staff, which also includes Brice Davis and Eric George, is now focused on recruiting at a time when players who lost most of this past season have been granted an extra year of eligibility.

“We try to find guys from multiple avenues that fit our program,” says Holtzleiter. “We look for guys who want to take a stride in their faith, are strong academically and can really play.

“This is an uncertain time for players, especially for (the classes of) 2020 and 2021).”

IWU’s staff will look at area high school players as well as transfers and those from the junior college ranks. This season, the Wildcats roster sported two players from Puerto Rico.

As pitching coach, Holtzleiter uses a mix of old school and new school.

Rapsodo is used to capture video to help pitchers with their delivery, sequencing, command and pitch design.

“We also work with feel to see why their pitches have certain movement and make adjustments,” says Holtzleiter, who has seen the Wildcats win 96 games since 2017. “It’s important for guys to pitch to their skill set and develop their strengths.

“Too many guys want to attack the opponents’ weaknesses instead of developing their strengths.”

Kris and Jessica Holtzleiter have two children — son Jackson (9) and daughter Madison (6).

KRISHOLTZLEITER1

 

Kris Holtzleiter, an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate, is pitching coach/recruiting coordinator for the Wildcats baseball program. (Indiana Wesleyan University Photo)