Sam Pinckert was productive in his first baseball season at Oakland (Ind.) City University in 2022. Playing mostly left field with a few of his 46 games at right field and second base, Pinckert hit .269 (42-of-156) with six home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 38 runs batted in and 43 runs scored plus eight stolen bases with the 31-23 Mighty Oaks. He amassed 14 assists (mostly from the outfield). After three seasons at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio (2019-21), the 2018 graduate of Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, Ind., transferred to Taylor University in Upland, Ind., for the fall of 2021 and wound up at NAIA member Oakland City for spring semester. He plans to return in the fall while changing his primary position. OCU head coach Andy Lasher wants to put him back in the infield in 2023 so Pinckert has been playing there this summer with the Ohio Valley League’s Muhlenburg (Ky.) County Stallions — recently at third base for a Mark Silva-managed team. He went to the outfield in the spring of 2022 since the Mighty Oaks had three fifth-year seniors in the infield. Sam, who turns 22 on June 20, is the only child of Dennis and Mona Pinckert of Santa Claus, Ind. Dennis Pinckert works for a cabinet manufacturer. Mona Pinckert is heading into an accounting job with a trucking company. It’s about 40 miles from Santa Claus Oakland City, making it easier for them to attend Sam’s games. Besides his parents, Sam Pinckert considers two men named Andy — Heritage Hills coach Andy Fischer and Oakland City coach Andy Lasher — as mentors. “Coach Fischer is probably the most personable head coach I’ve ever had,” says Pinckert. “He had personality and a relationship with the players. As a teacher, he would have them in class and see them throughout the day. “(Lasher) keeps me level-headed big time. He slows me down and works me through everything.” His college coach also keeps tabs on Pinckert the person, calling him once or twice a week to check up on him. “I can talk with him about anything,” says Pinckert of Lasher. Speed and strength are two qualities that have served Sam well on the diamond. “I’m just a compact athlete,” says the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Pinckert. “I just use my strength in certain ways. I have power though I’m a smaller guy.” Another plus for Pinckert is the mental side. “I just know the game very well,” says Pinckert, who is pursuing a Sport Management degree with a minor in Coaching. Righty-swinging Pinckert describes his approach to hitting. “I’m looking for a ball on the outer half and I’m trying to take it out to in,” says Pinckert. “I want to take the ball to right or right-center.” Pinckert was born in Evansville and grew up in Santa Claus. “Travel ball is really what got me going in baseball and got me a step ahead,” says Pinckert, who has donned the jerseys of the Spikes, Ironmen, Kentuckiana Elite, Avon Hurricanes and Outlaws. Kentuckiana Elite featured many future college players, including Castle High School graduate Brodey Heaton at Belmont University and Paducah Tilghman High School alum Jackson Fristoe at Mississippi State University. Pinckert’s last travel ball stop was with the A.J. Curtis-coached Outlaws. He was with the Avon Hurricanes the summer after high school graduation and Rockport American Legion Post 254 in the summer of 2019. He broke his hand during the regional final against Floyds Knobs Post 44 and and still went on a designated hitter wearing a cast on his right hand. In high school, Pinckert was on the cross country and swim teams and played four years of varsity baseball — three for Greg Gogel and one for Fischer. “He was a very competitive guy,” says Pinckert of Gogel. “We always kind of piggybacked off of that. “He knew what he was talking about.” Pincer was mostly a pitcher for the Patriots as a sophomore and junior and was a utility player as a senior, earning the Cy Young Award for pitching and also playing third base and second base. Through National Scouting Report (NSR), Pinckert went to a camp and was offered a roster spot by then-Muskies assistant and recruiting coordinator Mike Mulvey at NCAA Division III Muskingum. He started every game at shortstop for head coach Gregg Thompson as a freshman in 2019, hitting .282 (33-of-117). A torn labrum and the COVID-19 pandemic limited him to five games in 2020. Still recovering from injury, he saw action in just 12 contests in 2021. Pinckert took batting practice and did not play for a team in the summer of 2020. In 2021, he was with the OVL’s Vic Evans-managed Owensboro (Ky.) RiverDawgs.
The Mighty Oaks of Oakland City University swing some mighty potent bats in improving to 11-4 on the 2022 baseball season. OCU went 6-1 for the Week of Feb. 21-27 and collected 49 hits — 16 for extra bases — in a four-game sweep of Grace Christian. Chandler Dunn (.533, 12 runs batted in, 16 runs scored), Noah Baugher (.419, 11 R), Payton Hall (Benton Central High School graduate) (.400, 17 R), Treven Madden (2 home runs, 12 RBIs), Sam Pinckert (Heritage Hills) (2 HR, 16 RBIs, 12 R), Bailey Falkenstien (Jeffersonville) (2 HR), Gehrig Tenhumberg (Evansville Reitz) (2-0, 2.70 earned run average, 23 strikeouts, 3 walks, 20 innings) and Milan VanDerBreggen (2-1, 2.38, 15 K’s, 1 base on balls, 11 1/3 IP) are among leaders for Andy Lasher-coached Mighty Oaks. Oakland City went 17-27 in 2021. In other NAIA play, Taylor — coached by Kyle Gould — moved to 9-6 with a 3-1 week. On the season, offensive leaders include T.J. Bass (Greenwood Community) (.356 average, 5 HR, 26 RBIs), Kaleb Kolpien (Homestead) (.474, 12 RBIs) and Camden Knepp (Northridge) (12 RBIs). On the mound, Matt Duktowski (NorthWood) is 2-0 with 16 K’s and three walks over 15 1/3 innings. Todd Bacon-coached Marian went 2-2 for the week and is 8-6. For the season, A.J. Bordenet (Lafayette Central Catholic) (.458, 11 RBIs), Jackson Hogg (.390), Bryce Davenport (.350, 3 HR, 10 RBIs), Kato Hironori (2 HR) and Brodie Rinehold (Franklin Community) (2 HR) are among top batsmen. Pitcher Damien Wallace (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) has made four starts and is 3-0 with 3.05 ERA, 24 K’s and eight walks in 20 2/3 innings. Some other NAIA performers: Indiana University Southeast — Trevor Campbell (.364) and Brody Tanksley (Bedford North Lawrence) (4 HR, 10 RBIs); Indiana Tech — Jacob Daftari (Hamilton Southeastern) (.471) and Manuel Ascanio (.407); Indiana University-Kokomo — Dylan Steele (Bloomington North) (.357) and Ben Harris (Northwestern) (2-1, 2.08, 13 K’s, 10 BB, 13 IP); Grace — Alex Rich (Crown Point) (.395, 11 RBIs), Chris Griffin (.375, 10 RBIs), Sam Newkirk (3 HR, 11 RBIs) and Austin Carr (Franklin Central) (10 RBIs); Bethel — Andrew Sarno (.474), Jake Schlasky (Crown Point) (10 RBIs), Jeremy Wiersema (9 RBIs, 7-of-8 on stolen bases) and Frank Plesac (Crown Point) (2-1, 2.55, 21 K’s, 5 BB, 17 2/3 IP); and Goshen — Morgan Baker (2 HR in Game 1 vs. Brescia). NCAA Division I Purdue is off to an 8-0 start. Led by Curtis Washington Jr. (7-of-7) and Evan Albrecht (6-of-6), the Boliermakers are 35-of-35 in stolen base attempts. Albrecht (.462), Washington (.375), Cam Thompson (13 RBIs) and Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon) (2-0, 1.07, 18 K’s, 4 BB, 9 1/3 IP) are among the hot Boilermakers, which are coached by Greg Goff. Some other top NCAA D-I performers: Notre Dame — Ryan Cole (.500, 6 RBI, 5-5 SB), Brooks Coetze (2 HR), Carter Putz (8 RBI), Jack Brannigan (6 RBI), Aidan Tyrell (2-0, 0.00, 11 K’s, 3 BB, 11 IP) and John Michael Bertrand (2-0. 0.69, 19 K’s, 1 BB, 13 IP; Indiana State — Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo) (.414), Diego Gines (.407), Mike Sears (2 HR), Parker Stinson (Yorktown) (9 RBI), Miguel Rivera (6 RBI), Sean Ross (6 RBI) and Matt Jachec (2-0. 1.35, 13 K’s, 0 BB, 13 1/3 IP); Valparaiso — Kaleb Hannahs (West Vigo) (.474, 2 HR, 7 runs), Alex Thurston (.353), Kyle Schmack (South Central of Union Mills) (.333, 5 RBIs) and Colin Fields 1-0, 1.64, 15 K’s, 5 BB, 11 IP); Butler — Travis Holt (.478, 7 R, 5-6 SB), James Gargano (7 RBIs), Cole McDaniel (1-0, 2.25) and Derek Drees (0-0, 2 games, 10 K’s, 3 BB, 5 IP); Ball State — Amir Wright (Griffith) (.333); Indiana — Bobby Whalen (.391, 4 RBI, 5-5 SB), Matthew Ellis (2 HR) and Braydon Tucker (Northview) (0-1, 1.93, 2 appearances, 5 K, 5 BB, 4 2/3 IP); Evansville — Mark Shallenberger (.304) and Nick Smith (Boonville) (0-1, 1.61, 9 1/3 IP); and Purdue Fort Wayne — Alex Evenson (.320) and Jack Lang (Hamilton Southeastern) (.310, 6 RBIs). Tracy Archuleta-coached Southern Indiana is out of the gate at 6-0. The Screaming Eagles have been led by Lucas McNew (Borden) (.455, 2 HR, 13 RBIs through 5 games), Ethan Hunter (Terre Haute South Vigo) (11 RBIs) and Brice Stuteville (South Spencer) (0-0, 1.42, 3 games, 8 K’s, 0 BB, 6 1/3 IP). Other top NCAA D-II performers: Indianapolis — Alex Vela (Cardinal Ritter) (.478, 6 RBIs, 11 R, 5-7 SB), Caleb Vaughan (Lawrence North) (.409, 10 R), Drew Donaldson (8 RBI) and Xavier Rivas (Portage) (1-0, 1.93, 2 games, 23 K’s, 6 BB, 14 IP). In NCAA Division III, the Adam Rosen Era began at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with the Fightin’ Engineers winning both of the first-year head coach’s first two games. Adam Taylor (Perry Meridian) (5 RBI’s), Josh Mesenbrink (4 RBI’s), Brett Tuttle (1 HR, 5 R) and Ian Kline (1-0, 1.50, 4 2/3 IP) are among the RHIT leaders. Other top NCAA D-III performers: Earlham — Cameron McCabe (.500), Zach Swearingen (.500), Andrew Bradley (.500), Maxwell Fries (8 RBIs) and Keodon Kuderer (6 R); Franklin — Logan Demkovich (Munster) (2 HR); DePauw — Evan Barnes .588 through 4 games), Cameron Macon .563, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 8 R) and Cameron Allen (9 R); Wabash — Liam Patton (Warsaw) (.800 3 2B, 3 RBIs), Camden Scheidt (Highland) (.500), Reese Bauer (Northeast Dubois) (.500) and Dylan Scheid (Lawrence North) (0-0, 1.50, 1 game, 8 Ks, 0 BB, 6 IP); Anderson — Jake Stank (Mount Vernon of Fortville) (.444) and Tyler Smitherman (Westfield) (2 HR); and Manchester — Brady Perez (Rochester) (2 HR, 4 RBIs). In junior college, Vincennes U.’s Colton Evans is hitting .465 and Connor VanLannen is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 18 K’s in 15 innings.
Friday, Feb. 25 UNC-Wilmington 2, Ball State 0 Butler 6, Jackson State 5 Arkansas 5, Indiana 2 Indiana State 14, Merrimack 2 Notre Dame 20, Marist 2 Purdue 9, Princeton 3 Purdue 8, Princeton 3 California Baptist 4, Purdue Fort Wayne Valparaiso 9, Alabama A&M 2 Valparaiso 3, Alabama A&M 2
Saturday, Feb. 26 Middle Tennessee 1, Ball State 0 Butler 10, Prairie View 1 Butler 9, Jackson State 1 Evansville 11, Dayton 2 Indiana 12, Louisiana-Lafayette 4 Indiana State 16, Minnesota 3 Notre Dame 16, Monmouth 2 Notre Dame 9, Monmouth 0 Purdue 4, Princeton 3 Purdue 5, Princeton 4 California Baptist 23, Purdue Fort Wayne 5 California Baptist 5, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Sunday, Feb. 27 Coastal Carolina 7, Ball State 2 Dayton 4, Evansville 2 Dayton 5, Evansville 4 Stanford 13, Indiana 0 Indiana State 14, Minnesota 8 Purdue Fort Wayne vs. California Baptist
NCAA D-II Saturday, Feb. 26 Northwood 11, Indianapolis 6 Northwood 5, Indianapolis 4 Southern Indiana 12, Lake Erie 4
Sunday, Feb. 27 Northwood 9, Indianapolis 4 Southern Indiana 8, Lake Erie 3
NCAA D-III Wednesday, Feb. 23 Centre 9, Hanover 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Otterbein 8, Anderson 3 Baldwin Wallace 9, DePauw 8 Franklin 20, Albion 1 North Central 15, Manchester 5 Hope 16, Manchester 5 Wabash 3, Heidelberg 2 Maryville 4, Hanover 1 Earlham 20, Olivet 4 Earlham 9, Olivet 4 Asbury 5, Trine 4 Asbury 5, Trine 1
Sunday, Feb. 27 Baldwin Wallace 9, Anderson 4 DePauw 10, Transylvania 4 Earlham 10, Olivet 9 Franklin 11, Albion 6 Franklin 11, Albion 5 Wabash 15, Otterbein 5 Rose-Hulman 14, North Vermont-Lyndon 1 Rose-Hulman 12, North Vermon-Lyndon 11 Trine 3, Asbury 1
NAIA Monday, Feb. 21 Bethel 5, Oakland City 3 Oakland City 5, Bethel 4 (8 inn.) IU-Kokomo 5, Calumet of Saint Joseph 2 IU-Kokomo 5, Calumet of Saint Joseph 1 Indiana Tech 4, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Indiana Wesleyan 6, Indiana Tech 3 Marian 11, Georgetown 9
Wednesday, Feb. 23 Oakland City 9, Asbury 2
Thursday, Feb. 24 Bethel 11, Toccoa Falls 7
Friday, Feb. 25 Toccoa Falls 7, Bethel 1 Faulkner 3, Indiana Wesleyan 2 Indiana Wesleyan 4, Faulkner 3 Marian 9, Edward Waters 5 Edward Waters 8, Marian 7 Edward Waters 2, Marian 1 Taylor 8, Olivet Nazarene 6 Olivet Nazarene 2, Taylor 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Bethel 4, Toccoa Falls 0 Bethel 4, Toccoa Falls 3 Faulkner 8, Indiana Wesleyan 4 Faulkner 4, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Oakland City 13, Grace Christian 1 Oakland City 13, Grace Christian 4 Saint Francis 7, IU South Bend 5 Saint Francis 7, IU South Bend 6 Taylor 11, Olivet Nazarene 1 Taylor 9, Olivet Nazarene 5
Sunday, Feb. 27 Brescia 5, Goshen 4 Brescia 8, Goshen 5 Oakland City 11, Grace Christian 1 Oakland City 26, Grace Christian 0 Indiana Tech 6, IU Kokomo 2 Indiana Tech 7, IU Kokomo 5
Junior College Monday, Feb. 21 Vincennes 10, Marian’s Ancilla 2 Vincennes 3, South Suburban 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Clark State 4, Marian’s Ancilla 3 Clark State 9, Marian’s Ancilla 4
Sunday, Feb. 27 Marian’s Ancilla 10, Clark State 9 Clark State 7, Marian’s Ancilla 3 Morton 10, Vincennes 5 Joliet 10, Vincennes 3
By sweeping a NAIA four-game series against Tougaloo in Jackson, Miss., Marian moved to 5-2 on the 2022 baseball season. The Knights topped the Bulldogs 4-1 and 13-2 Saturday, Feb. 12 and 11-0 and 7-4 Sunday, Feb. 13. A.J. Bordenet (Lafayette Central Catholic) drove in two runs in Game 1, Trey Heidlage (Batesville) plated four in Game 2, Jake Marin (Lafayette Central Catholic) pitched six shutout innings with eight strikeouts in Game 3 and Jared Berger fanned six in five innings in Game 4. Saint Francis (4-2) split a four-game NAIA series at No. 11-ranked Cumberlands (Ky.), losing 8-5 and 7-0 Friday and winning 14-11 and 7-2 Saturday. The Cougars scored nine runs in the top of the seventh inning of Game 3. For the game, Alec Brunson (DeKalb) and Tyler Prince (Fort Wayne Bishop Luers) knocked in three runs each for Saint Francis. Grace (5-3) split four games with Aquinas (Mich.) in Hoover, Ala., losing 9-6 and 13-3 Friday, Feb. 11 and winning 17-0 and 8-6 Saturday, Feb. 12 in NAIA play. Chris Griffin homered and drove in six runs and Alex Rich (Crown Point) three to back winning pitcher Kameron Koch (Penn) in Game 3. Koch fanned eight in a seven-inning complete game. Oakland City (3-2) and Goshen (1-1) split a Friday NAIA doubleheader in Evansville with the Maple Leafs winning 8-7 and the Mighty Oaks prevailing 13-2. Nate Lange plated three runs for Goshen in Game 1. Sam Pinckert (Heritage Hills) knocked in three for Oakland City in Game 2. Indiana Tech (1-2) beat Columbia (S.C.) International 14-5 Friday and lost 11-1 to No. 5 Tennessee Wesleyan and 6-4 to No. 19 Middle Georgia State Saturday and Taylor (3-4) lost 7-6 to No. 17 St. Thomas (Fla.), beat No. 21 Reinhardt (Ga.) and lost 10-6 to Tennessee Wesleyan in the Southeast Rumble at Waleska, Ga. Tristan Osika bashed a three-run home run and plated four runs for Tech against Columbia International. For the three games, Jacob Daftari (Hamilton Southeastern) went 4-of-8 and Trevor Paterson 5-of-11. T.J. Bass (Greenwood) drove in six runs with a fourth-inning grand slam for Taylor against Reinhardt.
NAIA Huntington (2-6) won 8-7 against Ottawa (Ariz.) in Tuscaloosa, Ariz., after losing three game (9-4, 4-3 and 14-8). The Foresters got homers from Langston Ginder (Fort Wayne Carroll) and Jarret Gray (Huntington North) in Game 4. Ginder drove in three runs and Gray two. In NCAA Division III, Jake Stank (Mount Vernon of Fortville) socked a lead-off home run in his first collegiate at-bat as Anderson beat Sewanee (Tenn.) 4-0 in the season opener Saturday. The Ravens (1-2) lost 2-1 and 8-1 in Games 2 and 3. D-I baseball openers are Friday, Feb. 18. Ball State plays Bucknell in Charleston, S.C.; Butler goes to Murray (Ky.) State; Evansville visits North Carolina State; Indiana plays at Clemson (S.C.); Indiana State meets Brighham Young in Port Charlotte, Fla.; Notre Dame takes on Manhattan in Deland, Fla.; Purdue Fort Wayne visits Georgia State; and Valparaiso treks to Memphis.
Heritage Hills (enrollment around 600) is part of a 3A sectional grouping with Boonville, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Memorial, Gibson Southern and Mount Vernon (Posey). The Patriots last won a sectional crown in 2011.
Fischer, who counts Mike Guth and Brad Fella as assistant coaches and is looking to fill a couple vacancies, expects to have around 25 in the program next spring to fill varsity and junior varsity rosters.
Simon Scherry, a member of the Heritage Hills Class of 2020, is now a freshman infielder at the NCAA Division I University of Evansville. Other recent graduates in the collegiate baseball ranks include sophomore infielder Mitchel Becher (NCAA Division II University of Missouri-St. Louis) and junior infielder Sam Pinckert (NCAA Division III Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio).
Heritage Hill’s home field is on its campus. About a decade ago, the infield was changed to have cut-out areas around home plate and the bases with grass in the other areas.
“It helps with drainage,” says Fischer. “We very rarely have rain-out games now.
“It plays just like a turf field.”
Another unique feature is a batter’s eye 375 feet from the plate in center field.
“It’s the only one I know of in southern Indiana,” says Fischer of the structure made of green barn metal that is 60 feet wide and 24 feet tall and topped by the same yellow capping as the rest of the fence.
Much of the outfield is surrounded by woods.
“Before leaves are on the trees it’s really hard to pick up a baseball,” says Fischer, who built the batter’s eye based on a design created by his Heritage Hills engineering students.
Fischer earned an Elementary Education degree with a Mathematics minor at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, where he briefly played baseball.
Besides teaching and coaching baseball, Fischer is the head girls soccer coach at Heritage Hills. The Patriots won the 2020 2A Bosse Sectional then fell in the Jasper Regional championship match. The team was without senior Haley Osborne during the tournament because of COVID-19 quarantine.
With most baseball players in football, soccer and cross county in the fall and Fischer coaching girls soccer, Heritage Hills did not meet during the fall Limited Contact Period for baseball.
When the next window opens in December, plans call for station work in the school’s fieldhouse.
“We’ll do a lot of hitting and arm exercises to get our pitchers ready,” says Fischer.
Feeder systems for Patriots include the various parks in the North Spencer Little League (T-ball through age 12) and the Heritage Hills Cub program (seventh and eighth graders with varsity and JV teams).
Andy and wife Rachael have three children ages 12, 9 and 6.