Tag Archives: Screaming Eagles

Southern Indiana making transition to NCAA Division I

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

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

(University of Southern Indiana Image)

Jeffersonville hires veteran baseball man Stock to run Red Devils

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

The reputation of the school and the draw of the game have come together for Shayne Stock.
He was recently approved as head baseball coach at Jeffersonville (Ind.) School.
“It’s one of the most-storied programs in this part of the state if not the whole state,” says Shock, who welcomed 32 players to IHSAA Limited Contact Period Activities. It is hoped that the Red Devils can field three teams — varsity and sub-varsity — this spring.
Jeffersonville (enrollment around 2,130) is a member of the Hoosier Hills Conference (with Bedford North Lawrence, Columbus East, Floyd Central, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour).
The Red Devils were are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2022 with Bedford North Lawrence, Floyd Central, Jennings County, New Albany and Seymour. Jeffersonville has won 26 sectional titles — the last in 2019.
Three alums — Drew Ellis, Gabe Bierman and Drew Campbell — played pro ball in 2022. Ellis, son of previous Jeffersonville head coach and 1984 JHS graduate Derek Ellis, made his Major League Baseball debut in 2021.
The Red Devils regularly produce college players.
Max McEwen (Class of 2022) went to Indiana State University. Shortstop/pitcher Brett Denby is verbally-committed to the University of Georgia.
Jeffersonville plays home games on Don Poole Field at John Schnatter Stadium. The facility got a turf infield a few years back.
In assembling his coaching staff, Stock has gotten commitments so far from Jeff Crawford, Alec Dunn and Josh Biven. Crawford has been in the program for two decades. Dunn, a teacher, played for four years Stock at Hanover. Biven coached New Albany Little League deep into the tournament and is the father of University of Louisville freshman Tucker Biven.
Jeff/GRC Little League also has a shining profile and feeds the high school program. With two middle schools — Parkview and River Valley — Stock hopes to have full seventh and eighth grade teams in the spring.
Stock concluded a 13-year run as head coach at Hanover (Ind.) College in 2018.
“I enjoyed working with the guys on a day-to-day basis, the competition level and the travel,” says Stock.
Before leading the NCAA Division III Hanover Panthers, Stock served as head coach for four years at NCAA DIII Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. (2002 to 2005), pitching coach at DIII DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. (1998 and 1999) and was an assistant at Clarksville (Ind.) High School (1997) and an assistant at Hanover (2000 and 2001) under Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association and American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dr. Dick Naylor.
A 1992 Clarksville graduate, Shayne played for and later coached with his father Wayne Stock, who went into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame in 1994.
Everything I know about being professional and communicating with kids I learned in my first 22 years,” says Shayne Stock of his father. “He is the foundation of any opportunity I’ve ever had.
“I would assume there are lots of similarities (in our coaching styles). (My teams are) going to be well-prepared and well-disciplined. We’ll play hard until the 21st out is recorded.”
Stock is a 1996 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. Gary Redman led the NCAA Division II Screaming Eagles his freshman year and Mike Goedde the last three seasons.
“(Redman) is the the most meticulous detail-oriented human,” says Stock. “He’s the best baseball coach I’ve been around.
“Pretty much all I do pitching philosophy-wise comes from Coach Goedde.”
Stock earned a Masters in Education from Indiana University Southeast in New Albany in 2004. He has taught at area high schools, including Jeffersonville and Charletown, and is married with children.

Shane Stock.
Shayne Stock.
Don Poole Field at Jeffersonville (Ind.) High School.

New head coach Murray emphasizing athletic development for Mount Vernon Wildcats

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

Dustin Murray was hired this summer as the new head baseball coach at Mt. Vernon (Ind.) High School.
His focus for the Wildcats this fall and winter is adding muscle and being in-shape.
“The biggest thing that I’m going to bring is off-season expectations in the weight room,” says Murray, who is a certified strength and conditioning coach and a first-year Physical Education and Health teacher at Mt. Vernon Junior High School. “This is the part of the year where we’re going to get stronger.
“We want to have accountability when it comes to athletic development.”
Lifting at 6:15 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays have been drawing 25 athletes per session.
“What we’re doing is baseball-specific,” says Murray. “But it’s helpful for all sports.”
Murray has been facility director for 13 years at Athletic Republic Evansville, a sports performance training center.
A few years ago, Murray did some volunteer work for Mt. Vernon head coach Paul Quinzer and takes over after Quinzer retired following the 2022 season after leading the program since 2002.
Mt. Vernon (enrollment around 625) is a member of the Pocket Athletic Conference (with Boonville, Forest Park, Gibson Southern, Heritage Hills, North Posey, Pike Central, Princeton, Southridge, South Spencer, Tecumseh, Tell City and Washington).
The Wildcats were part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping in 2022 with Boonville, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Memorial and Heritage Hills. Mt. Vernon has won 17 sectional titles — the last in 2015.
Murray’s coaching staff includes Luke Harris and Derek Foncannon. Another assistant may be added.
A exciting addition at Mt. Vernon is an indoor training facility near the football field. There will be batting cages that will benefit both baseball and softball.
Construction on the building began a few weeks ago and could be available in late spring or early summer of 2023.
Murray says there has also been discussion of adding a turf infield on the Athletic Park diamond.
Mt. Vernon Cub Baseball offers playing time for eight graders and seventh graders in the spring.
Murray was an assistant to Steve Ricketts at Evansville Mater Dei in 2019 and 2020.
In 2018, he coached for Norris City-Omaha-Enfield in Illinois. He lives in Carmi, Ill., with wife Brittany, daughter Taytem (7) and son Jagger (1).
Prior to his Norris City-Omaha-Enfield stint, he was involved strength and conditioning at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville from 2010-18 after coaching baseball 2006-10. He landed with the Screaming Eagles when following Tracy Archuleta.
A native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Murray graduated from Bishop James Mahoney High School in 2000. He attended Prairie Baseball Academy while going to Lethbridge Community College. After two years, he transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside where Archeluta was the coach. An “international” rule allowed him to play five years of college baseball, including three at UWP. He also helped coach the Rangers after his playing days.
“I’ve never seen him have an ‘off’ day,” says Murray of Archuleta, who has won three NCAA Division II national titles at USI and is leading the Screaming Eagles into NCAA Division I status. “Every time he stepped on the field in was with intent.
“He is always looking to better his program. He’s always high energy and ready to go in everything he does.”
As the part of honored teams, Murray is in athletic halls of fame at both the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (2016) and the University of Southern Indiana (2020).

Dustin Murray.
The Murrays (left from): Jagger, Brittany, Jagger and Dustin.

Walther lends his experience to Pro X Athlete Development, College Summer League

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

Mark Walther helps run a business dedicated to the improvement of those who move and compete, particularly those in baseball, softball, football and golf.
He is the Director of Operations at Pro X Athlete Development, which is at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.
“I wear a lot of hats here,” says Walther, a former collegiate and professional pitcher. “There isn’t much that I don’t do here.”
Walther, 33, started as a lead instructor and taught velocity programs for pitchers and position players and gave pitching lessons.
As Director of Operations, he is charged with everything from scheduling cages and turf time to making sure machines are in order to the cleanliness of the facility.
He makes sure financials and daily reporting lines up with what’s coming into Pro X.
After coaching at Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., and the University of Indianapolis, Walther worked briefly for Bullpen Tournaments at Grand Park and still helps with that company while also serving as the commissioner of the College Summer League at Grand Park, which had its third season in 2022.
The CSL came about out of players needing a place to compete and train (at Pro X) with many leagues being shut down in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of athletes had spring seasons that were cut short or didn’t start at all.
“We had a lot of time on our hands,” says Walther. “Both of our businesses were shut down about the time (Indiana) opened up (from the lockdown) is when we were able to open up the league.”
Walther says he was one of six people who created the CSL and other people were brought in to make it a reality.
“To start up a league like that you want high-profile players,” says Walther. “It’s tough to get high-profile players if they’ve never heard of your league before.
“Right way we wanted to be able to compete with the Northwoods, the Prospect and the Coastal Plain. I don’t know if anybody’s ever going to compete with the Cape, but we wanted to be up there.”
Walther says getting the amount of players and talent that the CSL did (in 2020) is the whole reason it still exists.
“We just want to make sure that the product we’re putting out there is good for college players as a whole,” says Walther. “It’s good for their development in games and while they’re training (at Pro X) and getting better.
“We want to meet every ask of a college coach. If they have a redshirt and they need them ready for sophomore year when they return to school then we can get them 30, 40, 50 innings. If they want them to throw 20 innings and two innings a week in relief, we’ll follow that, too.
“That’s really what’s set the College Summer League apart.”
Over the past two years, Walther’s commissioner responsibilities have included finding and getting commitments from coaches, recruiting and placing players and taking care of everything from payments to jersey sizes to host families. He coordinates gameday operations and hires sports information interns for the eight-team league.
Those positions are posted in November and December with interviews coming in January and February.
Walther grew up on a farm on the west side of Kankakee, Ill., and is a 2007 graduate of Herscher (Ill.) High School, where his head coach was Eric Regez.
His junior year, Walther was the last one to make cuts for the Tigers varsity and helped his team as a right-handed reliever. As a senior, he was a starter.
“I played the underdog throughout my entire college career,” says Walther, who worked hard to grow his knowledge base while improving his athletic skill set.
“I was a P.O. (Pitcher Only) before P.O. was even a thing. I think I had seven career varsity at-bats.
“I just kept working at it.”
Mark is the son of Eugene and Beth Walther and is about six years younger than brother Todd Walther.
Eugene Walther died of brain cancer when Mark was 18.
“Going into college that pushed me forward,” says Walther. “It always gave me something to work for: Trying to make him proud.”
Walther showed up at walk-on tryouts at Parkland.
“I wasn’t a preferred walk-on or anything,” says Walther. “I found a way to earn a spot.”
The Cobras coaching staff changed Walther’s arm slot from overhand to sidearm/submarine.
“That gave me a whole new life in college baseball,” says Walther, who was frequently used as a freshman and was on scholarship as a sophomore. The latter team won the 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national championship.
After two years at Parkland playing for Mitch Rosenthal and Matt Kennedy, Walther transferred to NCAA Division II University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. He came out of the bullpen for Tracy Archuleta’s Screaming Eagles (which won an NCAA Division II national crown in 2010).
“I tried to just extend the game and get us to the next guy,” says Walther. “My job was to get us out of jams. There’s not better feeling in the world than coming into the game with the bases loaded and one out and you’re trying to get a ground ball. I lived for those moments.
“Being out there when the adrenaline’s pumping, I’ve yet to find anything to match it.”
After pitching at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., Todd Walther wound up on the baseball operations side with the Texas Rangers.
Mark used the connection to his advantage.
“I was able to bounce ideas off of him when thing weren’t going my way in bullpens or games,” says Walther.
He got to see video of major league pitchers like Cody Bradford, Darren O’Day and Pat Neshek and could study their mechanics, grips and release points.
Walther was on a path to become a Physical Education teacher and high school coach when a curriculum change at USI that would have taken him longer to get his degree caused him to change his major to Sport Management.
“I started learning more about facility management and running a sports business,” says Walther, who took classes on sports marketing and sports law — things that help him in his position at Pro X.
But Walther did pursue coaching out of college.
He was an assistant at Parkland for a year and helped Kennedy with outfielders, operations and recruiting.
He started what turned out to be a four-year stint at the UIndy as a volunteer learning from Greyhounds pitching coach Jordan Tiegs and serving for head coaches Gary Vaught and Al Ready.
When Tiegs left for Indiana State University, Walther took became pitching coach and recruiting coordinator.
Tiegs is now Drector of Pitching Research and Development for the Rangers — Todd Walther’s former job
“I loved college baseball,” says Mark Walther. “I loved coaching it.
“I really loved the recruiting aspect of college. (Players) need to come to us because we’re going to do a better job of developing them as a player.
“I’m very appreciate of Coach Vaught and Coach Ready for everything they did for me.”
Walther then went into tech recruiting for three months and decided he wanted to get back into baseball.
Pro X has just launched into the travel world with its Phoenix softball teams.
While travel baseball organizations, including the Indiana Bulls, Indiana Nitro and Indiana Prospects, partner with Pro X, there is currently no plans to field travel baseball teams under the Pro X banner.
“Travel baseball really wasn’t a thing when I grew up,” says Walther. “I played community baseball until I was 16 years old. Shortly after that it began to grow a little more.”
His first experience came when the Indiana Bulls and others brought teams to play fall exhibition games his first year at Parkland.
Walther notes that he was lucky enough to be on a winning team from age 10 on. But that was not the case in his early community baseball days.
“I got put on a terrible team,” says Walther. “I had to find a way to try to help the team win and to help players develop themselves and rely on our coaches to do the same.
“Depending on where your talent is you can be put on an elite team and rarely ever have to deal with failure, losing or any kind of adversity and learn to overcome that.
“Being on winning teams is also a positive because you learn what it takes to win. Whether you’re on the field or not you can find ways to help the team win.”
Walther says travel ball is all about finding the right fit for you as a player.
“You want to go where you have a chance to play or have a chance to compete for playing time,” says Walther. “You should never shy away from competing and trying to beat someone out to earn playing time.
“In the game of baseball you’re going to have guys on the bench no matter what. It’s what type of bench guys you have. Do you have guys who are going to work and push themselves and the people that are technically in front of them? Or are they going to just roll over and complain until they move on or join another team?”
Players should make sure the team will be doing what they want to do. Will it be mostly local tournaments are really hitting the road? Is the coaching staff going to help develop them as a player?
Among the things coming up at Pro X are “Hard 90” classes with about 30 minutes each of hitting, defense and speed and agility.
In September, the pitching academy and elite training academy for offense and defense cranks up.
Pro X — with its staff of instructors including Jay Lehr, trainers and medical professionals and former big leaguer Joe Thatcher as president — is also an off-season place to train for professionals, including major leaguers Tucker Barnhart, Lance Lynn and Carlos Rodon and minor leaguers Parker Dunshee and Collin Ledbetter.
Rodon came to Pro X while doing rehab from Tommy John surgery.
“He learned a lot about the body and how it moves and how to become efficient on the mound and use his lower half to try to stay as healthy as possible,” says Walther. “We just do whatever we can to service them whether that’s completely help them with their program or stay out of their way and let them use the weight room.”

Mark Walther, Director of Operations at Pro X Athlete Development and commissioner of the College Summer League at Grand Park, both in Westfield, Ind. (Steve Krah Photo)

Oakland City U. off to 11-4 start in 2022

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

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.

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL
Records Through Feb. 27

NCAA D-I
Purdue 8-0
Notre Dame 5-1
Indiana State 5-2
Valparaiso 3-2
Butler 3-3
Ball State 2-5
Indiana 1-5
Evansville 1-6
Purdue Fort Wayne 0-8

NCAA D-II
Southern Indiana 6-0
Indianapolis 3-3
Purdue Northwest 0-0

NCAA D-III
Earlham 3-0
Franklin 3-0
DePauw 3-2
Rose-Hulman 2-0
Wabash 2-0
Anderson 1-4
Trine 1-2
Hanover 0-2
Manchester 0-2

NAIA
Oakland City 11-4
Taylor 9-6
Marian 8-6
Saint Francis 6-4
Bethel 6-10
Indiana Tech 5-4
Indiana University-Kokomo 5-4
Indiana University Southeast 5-6
Grace 5-7
Goshen 3-5
Indiana Wesleyan 3-7
Indiana University South Bend 2-5
Huntington 2-6
Calumet of Saint Joseph 0-2

Junior College
Vincennes 4-5
Marian’s Ancilla 1-10
Ivy Tech Northeast 0-0

Week of Feb. 21-27
NCAA D-I
Wednesday, Feb. 23
Vanderbilt 9, Evansville 0

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

Oppel welcomes opportunity with Lanesville Swingin’ Eagles

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

Greg Oppel, who was hired as head baseball coach at Lanesville (Ind.) Junior/Senior High School in the fall of 2021, has long been part of the bat-and-ball scene in the southeast part of the state.
A 1987 graduate of North Harrison High School in Ramsey, Ind., where he earned Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association honorable mention all-state and IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series status as a senior for Cougars coach Danny Smith, left-handed pitcher Oppel went on to play at the Indiana State University-Evansville (now the University of Southern Indiana) for Screaming Eagles coach Gary Redman. Rotator cuff surgery limited his college playing career to 2 1/2 years.
Darren Oppel, Greg’s cousin, graduated from North Harrison in 1989 and was a first-team all-state shortstop and played in the IHSBCA North/South All-Star Series. He went on to play at the University of Louisville and was a Colorado Rockies scout.
As a baseball coach, Greg Oppel has been an assistant (2008) to Rick Parr and head coach (2009-11) at North Harrison (Cody Johnson was the IHSBCA North/South Series MVP in 2008) and assistant to Grenadiers head coach Ben Reel at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany (2012-15) and assistant to Lions head coach Jason Pepmeier at Salem (Ind.) High School.
It was when Reel was new at IUS and Oppel was on the North Harrison Babe Ruth League board that the new formed a friendship.
The idea of building an indoor hitting facility was explored and the process really took off when Oppel became North Harrison head coach. It happened through private donations and matching funds from the Harrison County Community Foundation.
Reel inquired about using the hitting building for his IU Southeast team in winter months.
“I said heck yeah — with one stipulation,” says Oppel. “I want your players and your staff to work our kids out with your knowledge.”
When Oppel joined Reel’s staff he got even more access to his know-how.
“Coach Reel is one of the top baseball minds in the country,” says Oppel. “Sitting in a session and listening to him talk and picking his brain was such a great opportunity for me and still is today.”
Having traveled all over the country following daughter Kyia’s softball exploits, Oppel became head softball coach at North Harrison in her senior year (2017). A torn patellar tendon limited her season and ended her hopes of playing in college.
“She’s handled adversity very well with her knee over a period of time,” says Oppel. “I think it hurt me more than it did her.”
Greg Oppel and joined Kyia Oppel when the middle school special education teacher became head coach at Crawford County High School in Marengo.
“We had a blast,” says Oppel of his time with his daughter and the Wolfpack, which went 8-14 in 2021.
With Christopher Broughton and Jason Sturgeon leading the charge, an indoor facility push was made at Crawford County.
Then came Greg Oppel’s chance to lead Lanesville Swingin’ Eagles baseball. He met four times with athletic director and former baseball head coach Zach Payne before taking the position.
“I wanted to made sure it was the right thing for Lanesville and the right thing for me,” says Oppel. “It’s tight-knit community. It’s almost like a throwback to years ago. It sounds like a cliche’ but they welcomed me with open arms.”
It’s a community that likes its sports and has enjoyed — and has come to expect — baseball success. Lanesville has won five sectionals, including those in 2010, 2016, 2017 and 2019. Regional and semistate titles came in 2016 and 2017. The Eagles were Class 1A state runners-up in 2016 and 1A state champions in 2017.
The Harrison County school with an enrollment around 240 is a member of the Southern Athletic Conference (with Borden, Crothersville, Henryville, New Washington and South Central of Elizabeth).
In 2021, the Eagles were part of an 1A sectional grouping with Borden, Christian Academy of Indiana, Orleans and South Central (Elizabeth).
Oppel’s assistants for 2022 include Jeff Cockerham, Tyler Cockerham and Aaron Lockman. Jeff Cockerham played at Jeffersonville High School. Tyler Cockerham played for Oppel at North Harrison then at Hanover (Ind.) College. Lockman is 2020 Lanesville graduate.
A campaign to bring an indoor facility to Lanesville is now in the works.
“This will be a win-win for the Lanesville community,” says Oppel. “We are fortunate to have such a backing at Lanesville. The following for baseball alone at Lanesville is astronomical.
“I’m very blessed to have this opportunity.”
Oppel, who is also a 29 1/2-year employee of Ford Motor Company in Louisville, where he builds the Escape and Lincoln Corsair, served 12 years on the North Harrison Babe Ruth League board. He began coaching at the 10U and 12U level.
Says Oppel, “At 14U we had tremendous success because we did everything fundamentally sound with lots of drills and going things at game speed.”

Greg Oppel
Kyia Oppel and Greg Oppel.
Chad Eveslage (left) and Greg Oppel at North Harrison High School.

Michigan middle infielder Bertram spending summer with Lafayette Aviators

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

Riley Bertram is spending the last summer before his final college baseball season in the same town where he began playing the game as a boy.
The 21-year-old switch-hitter has been leading off and playing shortstop for the Prospect League’s Lafayette (Ind.) Aviators at new Loeb Stadium.
Through 17 games for head coach/manager Michael Keeran’s Aviators, Bertram was hitting .273 (15-of-55) with two doubles, eight runs batted in, 12 runs and four stolen bases.
Bertram, a 2018 Zionsville (Ind.) Community High School graduate who has played three seasons (2019-21) at the University of Michigan (he started 31 of the 37 games in which he played in 2021 at second base), was born in Noblesville, Ind., and introduced to the game while father Vince Bertram was the principal at Lafayette Jefferson High School.
“I’m a middle infielder,” says Riley. “I play both second base and shortstop — whatever position the team I’m on needs.”
A year ago, Bertram was with the Josh Galvan-coached Tropics in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.
Riley is the youngest of Project Lead The Way president and CEO Vince and Western Governors University advisor Jill Bertram’s four boys, behind Josh, Ryan and Drew.
Josh Betram played basketball and baseball at Lafayette Jeff.
Ryan Bertram played three baseball seasons at Evansville (Ind.) Harrison High School and one at Zionsville Community. He was part of the University of Southern Indiana’s NCAA Division II national championship team in 2014 and later an assistant coach at Southern Illinois University and director of operations at Campbell University in Buis Creek, N.C.
Drew Bertram played at Purdue and was a manager for the Boilermakers when Mark Wasikowski was head coach. Drew is a Purdue graduate and is going to graduate school at the West Lafayette school.
It was in the back yard with his brothers that Riley first experimented with switch-hitting. He has been doing it in games since about 13.
At Michigan, Bertram has played in 70 games (49 as a starter) and is hitting .236 (43-of-182) with 14 doubles, 26 RBIs, 30 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. On defense, he has 95 putouts, 136 assists, five errors and a .979 fielding percentage. He led the team in stolen bases in 2021, swiping eight in nine attempts.
Bertram has played three seasons for Wolverines head coach Erik Bakich and assistant Nick Schnabel. Pitching coach Steve Merriman and volunteer coach Brandon Inge joined the staff for the 2021 slate.
“I’m very fortunate to have this coaching staff,” says Bertram. “They know what they’re talking about.
“Coach Bakich is awesome to play for. He is trying to find the best for you. He knows everything about your family. He has your back. He’s someone you could reach out if you need to get something off your chest. He does a good job of building a culture.”
Schnabel works with Michigan infielders, including Bertram.
“He knows the game at a higher level than a lot of people,” says Bertram of Schnabel.
Merriman has made a point of bonding with all UM players and not just pitchers.
“At the college level you need to have at least a baseline relationship with all players if you want to have a culture,” says Bertram. “Everytime Coach Inge talks you have to listen because whatever he’s going to say is going to beneficial to your performance.
“He keeps things loose. He’s bought into the culture Coach Bakich and Coach Schnabel have built.”
Bertram is on pace toward a Communication and Media degree from Michigan in the spring of 2022. He was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2021.
Riley played Little League baseball in Evansville, Ind., when his father served as superintendent of schools. After the family moved to Zionsville, he played for Zionsville Baseball Club and was with the Indiana Bulls travel organization from 15U to 18U, playing for teams with Dan Held, Sean Laird, Jered Moore and Jeremy Honaker as coaches.
Bertram played four seasons for Moore at Zionsville Community and was part of IHSAA Class 4A sectional champions in 2016, 2017 and 2018, regional winners in 2016 and 2017, a semistte title-taker in 2016 and state runner-up in 2016.
In 2018, Bertram was an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Honorable Mention All-State selection and IHSBCA North-South All-Star as a third baseman as well as a Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American.
“I’ve always been close with Coach Moore and his family,” says Bertram. “Jered was not only was my coach, but I’ve reached out to him for many things.
Last week I texted him about hitting facilities in (the Lafayette) area and he hooked me up.
“It’s a really strong relationship.”

Riley Bertram (University of Michigan Photo)
Riley Bertram (University of Michigan Photo)
Riley Bertram (University of Michigan Photo)
Riley Bertram (University of Michigan Photo)

Lasher brought in to help with Oakland City transition

RBILOGOSMALL copy

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Oakland City (Ind.) University is making a transition from NCAA Division I to NAIA and the Mighty Oaks baseball program has also changed its leadership.

Andy Lasher, who played at Castle High School in Newburgh, Ind., Olney (Ill.) Central College and the University of Evansville and coached at Olney, the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville and for the Dubois County Bombers in Huntingburg, Ind., has been hired as OCU head coach.

T-Ray Fletcher, who was Oakland City head coach for 26 seasons, is still the school’s athletic director.

Since taking the job a few weeks ago, Lasher been concentrating on building up his roster.

“I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting though there are no games to watch,” says Lasher, referring to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic which has live baseball shut down at the moment. “There’s been a lot of calls and text messages.”

Lasher, who is tapping into his network of contacts, says he would like to have 35 players in the fall and 40 to 45 in the future so the Mighty Oaks can add a junior varsity program.

In moving from NCAA D-II to NAIA, Oakland City also goes from an independent to a member of the River States Conference, a circuit that also features baseball-playing schools Indiana University Kokomo and Indiana University Southeast.

That takes care of half the schedule. Lasher has the opportunity to fill in the rest of the games, choosing ones that are feasible and keeps players from missing too many classes.

It’s Lasher’s intent to schedule some contests in the fall.

Lasher’s assistants are Jacob Bedwell and Austen Bullington. Washington (Ind.) High School graduate Bedwell was on the OCU team last year. Castle grad Bullington played at Wabash Valley College and the University of Tennessee-Martin.

Lasher was hired by Southern Indiana  last summer and spent much of his time assisting Screaming Eagles head coach Tracy Achuleta with hitters and position players.

“I also kept track of academic progress and a lot of little things that don’t happen on the baseball field,” says Lasher. “That’s a much bigger percentage of the job than people realize.

“At the college level, it’s a lot more than the bats and balls. It’s a full-time job for a reason.

“(Archuleta) is one of my favorite people. He’s alot of fun to be around and a really good baseball mind. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Lasher performed many of the same duties during the 2019 season as an assistant on Jason Anderson’s coaching staff at Eastern Illinois University.

He was an assistant to Dennis Conley at Olney Central from the 2014 season until the fall of 2018.

“It was a really good experience I wouldn’t trade for the world,” says Lasher, who helped the Blue Knights win 173 games in five seasons.

An outfielder, Lasher played two seasons at Olney (2010 and 2011) for Conley and two at Evansville (2012 and 2013) for Wes Carroll.

Going to Castle, Lasher had heard all about alums Wes and brother Jamey Carroll (who played in the big leagues).

“(Wes Carroll) was a real good player’s coach,” says Lasher. “We had some good teams.”

The Purple Aces won 56 games in Lasher’s two seasons at UE. He played with five players — left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland (Colorado Rockies), lefty-swinging outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski (New York Mets), righty-batting Eric Stamets (Rockies), righty pitcher Kyle Lloyd (San Diego Padres) and lefty hurler Phillip Diehl (Rockies) — who eventually made it to the majors.

For five summers, Lasher was with the Bombers — 2014 as an assistant coach and 2015-18 as manager.

He got to guide many talented players, including New Mexico State University’s Daniel Johnson in 2015, USI’s Logan Brown in 2016 and NMSU’s Nick Gonzales in 2018.

Lefty-hitting outfielder Johnson is now on the Cleveland Indians’ 40-man roster.

Brown is a catcher in the Atlanta Braves organization.

Lasher calls shortstop Gonzales, who was the 2019 NCAA Division I batting champion, the best player he’s ever coached and expects him to be taken about the top picks in the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

The atmosphere created by Dubois County ownership and fans at League Stadium made Lasher’s time with the Bombers very enjoyable.

“It’s a great place to watch a game,” says Lasher. “It’s a shame they’re not getting to do it this summer (due to COVID-19 causing cancelation of the Ohio Valley League season).”

Lasher graduated in 2009 from Castle, where he played for Curt Welch.

“He was very intense,” says Lasher of Welch, who has also been an assistant wrestling coach for the Knights. “We were probably in better shape physically as any team in the country.”

There was plenty of running and ab workouts.

“It was worth it,” says Welch. “No doubt about it. It got guys ready for the college stuff. You have to be mentally tough and physically in shape in college or you just aren’t going to make it.”

Besides head baseball coach, Lasher is also in charge of maintaining Oakland City athletic fields and is gameday coordinator for any on-campus sporting events. The Mighty Oaks sponsor teams in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis for men and women and softball and volleyball for women.

Lasher and girlfriend, former Orleans (Ind.) High School, Olney Central and Brescia University basketball player Shelbi Samsil, recently moved to the north side of Indianapolis to be closer to Oakland City.

ANDYLASHEROAKLANDCITYU

Andy Lasher is the new head baseball coach at Oakland City (Ind.) University. He is a graduate of Castle High School in Newburgh, Ind., and played at Olney (Ill.) Central College and the University of Evansville. He has coached at Olney, Eastern Illinois University, the University of Southern Indiana and with the summer collegiate Dubois County Bombers. (Oakland City University Photo)

 

Assistant Kuester contributes to Southern Indiana diamond success

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

University of Southern Indiana baseball has enjoyed plenty of success since Tracy Archuleta stepped on campus at the Evansville school.

His first season leading the Screaming Eagles was 2007. Since then, USI has won nearly 500 games with a pair of NCAA Division II national championships (2010 and 2014).

Jeremy Kuester has been a part of much of it. The 2020 season — cut to 14 games by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic — was his 11th spring on the Southern Indiana coaching staff.

Kuester’s main responsibility?

“I make sure Coach Archuleta has everything in line,” says Kuester, who took the job in August 2009 after a playing career as an outfielder, first baseman and left-handed pitcher. “We both do everything. I work with pitchers 70 to 80 percent of the time. But he will go with the pitchers and I’ll go with the hitters.

“It’s nice to have a fresh set of eyes so we go back and forth — whatever we feel is most beneficial for the guys.”

Kuester has been asked many times what makes Archuleta a winner.

“What’s his secret sauce for success?,” says Kuester. “He connects with people really well. He can take a group of guys then pull the best out of each and every one of those guys.

“He’s a very intense, very driven individual with a lot of knowledge.”

Not that Archuleta won’t laugh on the diamond. He does like to do that on occasion.

“He knows when it’s time to joke around and time to be serious,” says Kuester.

The Screaming Eagles coaching staff, which also includes Andy Lasher and volunteer Kevin Brown, sets the expectations high. Lasher was recently named head coach at Oakland City (Ind.) University.

“We make sure they’re aware of what they need to accomplish every single day,” says Kuester.

As recruiting coordinator, Kuester looks to bring as much talent to the program as possible.

He says the difference between D-II and D-I often comes down to depth. D-I tends to have more of it. Plus, D-I can give 11.7 scholarships per year and D-II can grant 9. Not fully-funded, USI tends to bestow between 6 and 7.

From a player’s’ perspective, he might also crack the lineup sooner at a D-II school.

“That’s biggest recruiting sell when going after junior college guys,” says Kuester. “Competition (for playing time) is less because the depth isn’t quite there.”

Kuester is not wishy-washy in his player evaluations.

“I’m not the kind of recruiter that leaves question marks,” says Kuester. “I’m blunt. I’m straight to the point. I tell them exactly what I think.”

The pandemic has made planning for the future less cut-and-dried.

When it looked like the season would be at least be put on hold, Southern Indiana (6-8) was coming off a pair of games in Pensacola, Fla. Coaches would try to sort through contingencies and scenarios, which seemed to change daily.

“Nobody was prepared for this,” says Kuester. “The hardest part for us is communicating things with our guys. They see things online before its official. Administrators don’t have the answers either.

“Finally, we (as coaches) decided to sit back and wait. It’s out of our control right now.”

Kuester says the majority of returning players were hoping to play summer baseball. With some leagues canceling (about 10 USI leagues were going to play in the Ohio Valley League), they have been looking for opportunities. Leagues are expected to form at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., and in Louisville.

“We want them to find some place where they can play the game a little bit,” says Kuester. “A lot of our guys have went and got jobs for the summer.”

Southern Indiana coaches have suggested for nearly 40 players to keep active and make the best of their situation.

“But we don’t know what they’ve done for the past two months,” says Kuester. “That’s the scariest thing. We want to make sure these guys are going to be healthy. It’s more risky for pitchers than position players.”

The last day of classes for USI was Wednesday, May 6. The term ended with weeks of online instruction.

“It’s not the easiest thing in the world,” says Kuester. “And I was only teaching one class this eight weeks.”

Besides coaching, Kuester is on the faculty and has taught introduction to kinesiology or an activity class (hiking, badminton etc.). He earned a masters degree in Public Administration from Southern Indiana in 2012.

Jeremy and Ashley Kuester were wed in September 2009. She is a nurse practitioner with in Evansville. The couple has three children — first-grader Bryce (7), kindergartener Alli (5) and Colton (3). At their Rockport house, built in 2017, internet access is spotty, making eLearning with Bryce a challenge.

Jeremy slowly downloads YouTube videos for his son to watch and helps him with his homework. When completed, they take a picture with the school-supplied iPad and upload it.

Kuester is a 2005 graduate of South Spencer High School in Rockport, Ind., about 40 miles east of the USI campus.

Jeremy’s father — Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Brian Kuester — is the Rebels head coach.

“I never thought about him as my dad,” says Jeremy of the time spent playing for Brian. “He never coached me growing up. Whatever the coach says is what you do. When we were on the field I called him Coach.

“It was coach-player relationship at home even during those four years.”

Baseball discussions did happen away from the diamond.

“He’s say you need to improve on this — not in a negative way, just trying to get better.”

Jeremy recalls his last high school game while teammates were sitting around and lamenting the end of the season.

“Dad gave me a big hug and said I’m proud of you,” says Jeremy. “I’ll never forget that.”

Brian Kuester and his father, Ivan, had also been assistant coaches at USI. That’s when Larry Shown was head coach.

Brian and Debbie Kuester’s four children are Jeremy, Shawn, Nathan and Katie. Shawn played baseball at the University of Evansville and Nathan at USI. Katie played softball at Olney Central College.

Jeremy Kuester played his college baseball at the Evansville (2006 for Dave Schrage and 2007 for Dave Seifert) and Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro (2008 and 2009 for head coach Todd Lillpop).

While 2020 was Lillipop’s 19th as KWC head coach, he was a young in the profession when Kuester played for him.

“You could tell was still trying to figure out how he was going to be as a coach,” says Kuester. “He’s done at real good job of maturing as a coach over the years.

“He’s a really good, genuine person.”

Kuester first met Lillpop when another South Spencer graduate played for the Panthers. Kuester opted to transfer there to continue being a two-way player.

He earned a Sports Studies degree from Kentucky Wesleyan.

JEREMYKUESTERFAMILY

The Kuester family of Rockport, Ind., includes father Jeremy, mother Ashley and (clockwise from left) Bryce, Alli and Colton. Jeremy Kuester is an assistant baseball coach and faculty member at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.

JEREMYKUESTER1

University of Southern Indiana baseball assistant coach Jeremy Kuester (center) makes a mound visit. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)

JEREMYKUESTER2

Jeremy Kuester (center) has been on the University of Southern Indiana baseball coaching staff of Tracy Archuleta (left) since August 2009. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)

JEREMYKUESTER3

Jeremy Kuester has been an assistant baseball coach at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville since the 2010 season. He is also on the USI faculty and has a master’s degree from the school. (University of Southern Indiana Photo)

 

Purdue’s Marx feels at home leading hitters or pitchers

RBILOGOSMALL copy

BY STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Chris Marx prides himself on his versatility as a college baseball coach.

The Evansville, Ind., native has been in charge of hitters and — more recently — he has led pitchers.

“It was a seamless transition,” says Marx. “Hitting and pitching are extremely similar. Working from the ground up, you’re trying capture the most energy in your pitch or swing.”

The way Marx sees it, hitters and pitchers are both rotational athletes.

Marx, a graduate of Mater Dei High School (2003) and the University of Southern Indiana (bachelor’s degree in 2008 and master’s in 2010) in Evansville, was hired as the pitching coach at Purdue University in West Lafayette, bringing wife Niki (a Mater Dei graduate) and sons Clayton (5) and Maddox (3) back to Indiana. The Boilermakers were 7-7 when the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic brought the 2020 season to a premature end.

Marx presented “Pitching From the Ground Up” at the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association State Clinic in Indianapolis in January.

Marx asks his pitchers to establish some feel and command in the strike zone and develop an efficient delivery.

He also has them go through a physical assessment to see if the athletes can get into the necessary positions. They are checked for hip, ankle and T-Spine mobility as well as core stability.

When it comes to the motion, it’s important to “disassociate the hips from the shoulders.”

“We try to get the guys to feel the kinetic chain from the ground up,” says Marx. “We’re getting our lower half out of the way.

“We want to get to a hinge position (basic deadlift position where our butt is behind our heel). We want to sit back as opposed to sit down.”

The aim is for pitchers to get our hand to move toward the catcher’s glove and our target for as long as possible.

Marx shared a Tweet from New York Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman that sums up the desired approach: “For my young ones asking me about mechanics. This is the position I try to master. I feel unbelievably strong here. Ribs down, core engaged and glutes turned on. Upper body relaxed. Opposite of max effort. I want to be effortless. My arm is just along for the ride!”

Says Marx, “We say that just about everyday — ‘hips lead the hand’ or ‘arm just along for the ride.’

“This is what we want them to feel in their catch play and, ultimately, getting on the mound.”

Basic movements or check points that Marx stresses include getting to the top of the leg lift, the hinge position, getting the lower half to lead and staying closed on top.

When Purdue was in action, pitchers had two velocity days a week — one live and one bullpen. They threw medicine balls and work on creating a consistent delivery.

They were asked to go through their motion six or seven days a week to create muscle memory.

“We want to do it early,” says Marx. “We are dealing with rotational athletes that are sitting in class all day and not rotating. We want to wake up those muscles as soon as they get to the field. We want to set a really good movement pattern before we pick up a baseball.

“Hopefully we recognize when we’re outside that muscle memory and can make one-pitch adjustments to get back into the zone.”

On the mental side, pitchers were encouraged to find an aggressive, consistent thought process and to set their focus.

“We want to own our routines,” says Marx. “We use our breath to trigger our last thought. It helps us choose our last thought before we deliver our pitch.”

Positive self talk goes along with routines.

“Confidence is probably your most important thing when you’re out there standing on the mound,” says Marx. “We get into a lot of stressful situations. We want to get to the peak state of mind so our body is doing what it’s trained to do. We don’t have to think about anything, we can just compete and enjoy the moment.”

Before getting to Purdue, Marx was an assistant at Campbell University (2015) in Buis Creek, N.C., University of Arkansas-Little Rock (2012-14) and Southern Indiana (2008-11). As the necessity arose, Marx was both a pitching coach and hitting coach at Campbell and Little Rock as well as recruiting coordinator.

At USI, head coach Tracy Archuleta took over pitchers and let Marx lead Screaming Eagles hitters.

What is impressive about Arch is his ability to wear a bunch of different hats (and teach different) facets of the game,” says Marx. “He was extremely consistent. He was the same guy every single day.

“The moment was never seemingly too big because of that.”

Southern Indiana won an NCAA Division II national title with Marx on staff in 2010.

Middle infielder Marx played for Darin Knight at Mater Dei.

“He was an awesome guy,” says Marx of Knight, who guided the Wildcats to an IHSAA Class 2A state title in 1999 and is now MD’s principal. “He was a really good leader and extremely well-respected.

“He was a guy I really enjoyed playing for.”

Marx spent two seasons with head coach Dennis Conley at Olney (Ill.) Central College.

“He had the respect of everybody in the town,” says Marx of Conley. “It was like he was the mayor of Olney it seemed. I absolutely loved playing for him.”

One thing Marx appreciated about Conley was that he was steady.

“He was the same guy everyday,” says Marx.

He finished his eligibility with two seasons at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where Scott Norwood was the Tigers head coach and Justin Haire was an assistant. Norwood hired Marx at Little Rock and Haire had Marx on his Campbell staff.

“Extremely passionate” is how Marx describes Norwood. “We were going to compete everyday. Practice was going to be difficult everyday. We knew he wanted to win.”

OBU won 50 games in 2007.

Playing for and coaching with Haire, who too to the diamond the University of Indianapolis for Gary Vaught, Marx got to experience his high energy.

Haire’s predecessor as Campbell head coach was Greg Goff, who is now head coach at Purdue.

What strikes Marx about Goff?

“His positive attitude is the biggest thing,” says Marx. “He has infectious energy around the office. Guys really enjoy going to field to work.

“He’s a lot of fun to be around.”

The Boilers staff also features pitching coach Cooper Fouts, volunteer Harry Shipley and director of player development John Madia.

Since the shutdown, coaches have been getting players to stay on top of their academics while also reflecting the season and looking ahead to the summer and fall. While there are no currently games to attend, Marx says coaches have been looking at potential recruits.

CHRISMARXPURDUE

Chris Marx, an Evansville, Ind., native, was hired as an assistant baseball coach at Purdue University in the summer of 2019. He has been in charge of the Boilermakers pitchers. (Purdue University Photo)