By STEVE KRAH
Ian Schilling didn’t do much pitching until his senior season at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis in 2018.
Usually a second baseman, Schilling came straight over the top when he was on the mound.
Schilling was recruited to Ivy Tech Northeast — a junior college program in Fort Wayne, Ind. — as a two-way player. But the Titans had plenty of talented middle infielders and he wasn’t getting much velocity on the hill.
“I was at 83 or 84 mph on a good day,” says Schilling. “I was struggling.”
Since he had grown up as a second sacker and dropping his arm down came naturally, Ivy Tech head coach Lance Hershberger suggested he pitch with a lower arm angle.
“The ball was moving more than ever and I was throwing strikes,” says Schilling. “It just worked out for me.”
Becoming a “sidewinder” or “submariner” did not give Schilling a big velo jump, but it did make him effective.
As a “Corona” sophomore in 2021, the right-hander was 3-1 with one save, 41 strikeouts and just two walks in his first 37 innings (12 appearances with four starts). His earned run average was 4.38.
“I pitch to contact guy until I get to two strikes,” says Schilling. “You have to have conviction with every one of your pitches.
“You can’t be afraid to attack the zone.”
Schilling throws a two-seam fastball with sinking action.
“It breaks down hard and to the right,” says Schilling. “My slider has a lot of late break. I start on the third base side of the rubber and it slides away from righties or jams lefties.
“My ‘circle’ change-up has almost a 12-to-6 action. It’s like a curveball but from a submarine pitcher.”
While Schilling is mostly self-taught, he does credit former Tech sidearmer Zach Haefer (an East Noble High School graduate now at Davenport University) with help from Hershberger, former Ivy Tech and current Indiana Tech assistant Seth Sorenson as well as Mark Fluekiger.
Schilling graduated from Ivy Tech last semester with a general studies degree is enjoying the life of a “juco bandit” before heading to Lebanon, Tenn., to join the successful baseball program at Cumberland University (the Phoenix are three-time NAIA national champions (2004, 2010 and 2014) and national runners-up (1995, 2006) with 12 NAIA World Series appearances).
“To me a juco bandit is someone who is already hardened,” says Schilling. “It’s somebody who is tough, loves baseball and is a true competitor.”
Those are qualities embraced by diamond veteran Hershberger.
“The way Coach Hershberger coaches is not for everybody,” says Schilling. “He looks at championships things like making your bed, polishing your cleats and running on and off the field.
“He will push you to your competitive edge. He wants to unlock that potential in you.
“I want to give a huge thank you to Coach Hershberger. He has let me compete and pushed me to a limit I never thought I had.
“Winning is fun. Being successful is fun. That transfers to real life.”
Born in Indianapolis and raised on the west side to David and Melissa Schilling (who divorced when Ian was young), he played at Ben Davis Little League from grades K-6 and then in recreational leagues until high school summers in travel ball with the Indiana Eagles and Indiana Bruins.
After spending the summers of 2019 and 2020 with the Portland Rockets, the righty expects to spend much of this summer adding strength and possibly weight to his 5-foot-10, 175-pound frame.
Schilling, who has four older sisters (Sara, Nikki, Ashley and Savannah) and a younger brother (Landon), was on varsity at Ben Davis High for two years for Giants head coach David Bear.
He vividly recalls his last time on the field with Bear.
“We just lost the (Ben Davis) Sectional championship game and I had teary eyes,” says Schilling. “He said, ‘You’re going to be OK, kid. You’ve got a future.’”
That future likely includes pursuing a Business Management major at Cumberland and playing for Ryan Hunt, who is to take over the Phoenix from father and American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Woody Hunt who plans to retire at the end of 2021 after 43 seasons (41 as head coach).