By STEVE KRAH
With around 300 students, Tecumseh Junior/Senior High School is among the smaller IHSAA members.
But just because the Braves compete in Class 1A in the baseball postseason, that didn’t keep them from being competitive against larger schools during the 2018 regular season.
Tecumseh, which takes a 20-9 mark into the southern Plainfield Semistate at noon CST Saturday, June 9 against University (27-6), went 4-4 as the lone 1A school in the nine-member Pocket Athletic Conference.
It’s the first time in years, the Braves have finished in the top five in the PAC, which features 3A’s Gibson Southern, Heritage Hills, Pike Central and 2A’s Forest Park, North Posey, Southridge, South Spencer and Tell City.
Southridge is in the 2A Jasper Semistate. North Posey bowed to Southridge in the Austin Regional championship game.
At the 3A Vincennes Lincoln Sectional, Gibson Southern was shaded by Washington in the championship game and Pike Central lost a one-run decision to Washington in the first round.
At the 2A Tell City Sectional, South Spencer lost to North Posey in the final. Tell City was edged by South Spencer in the semifinals. Forest Park was beaten by North Posey in the first round.
In non-conference play, the Braves topped 4A’s Castle (a Plainfield Semistate qualifier), Evansville Central, Evansville Harrison and was competitive with Evansville North and Evansville Reitz and 3A’s Evansville Bosse.
His peers named first-year Tecumseh head coach Ted Thompson an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association district coach of the year.
“We really have a tough conference,” says Thompson. “It definitely improves us and makes us better for tournament time. (Games against larger schools) taught us how to be resilient, how to never give up and how to win.”
Tecumseh, located in the Warrick County town of Lynnville, Ind., counts Spencer Buse, Steven Molinet, Chase Howell, Josh Jagelewski, Aaron Beard and Gavin Oxley as its top pitchers. Beard is a senior and Howell a sophomore. The rest are juniors. Oxley is the lone left-hander.
When not pitching, Buse is usually the designated hitter, Molinet in center field, Howell at DH, Jagelewski in right field, Beard at shortstop and Oxley in left field.
Beard, Molinet, junior first baseman Woody Brucken and freshman Jalen Oxley have led the Braves on offense.
Coincidentally, their cousin — freshman Adam Oxley — is on the University team.
Tecumseh, which has 24 players in the program this year, has just three seniors — Beard, second baseman Carson White and right-hander Dalton Wesselman. Both are college baseball commits — Beard at Danville (Ill.) Area Community College and White at Oakland City University.
“We are a young team,” says Thompson. “We’ve got a lot of freshmen and a lot of juniors.”
Semistate preparation will resemble the practices that got the Braves ready for the Jasper Regional, where they bested Borden 1-0 and Barr-Reeve 7-0.
“It’ll be the same routine,” says Thompson. “We’ll work on fundamentals. We’re not going to change a thing.”
Thompson’s Tecumseh coaching staff includes Kennan Barnett (pitching coach) and Seth Gorman.
Home games have been played on-campus at Braves Ballpark. A new stadium, with Bermuda grass and other amenities, is expected to be ready for the 2019 season.
To make a connection with youngsters that feed into Tecumseh, Thompson has been planning camps and working with Elberfeld Baseball League and Lynnville Ballpark.
Thompson is a 1991 graduate of Princeton Community High School, where he played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Tim Nonte.
After two seasons at Vincennes University, Thompson played two more for coach Les Hall at Florida Tech.
Thompson calls Hall “a class act.”
“He was always quietly telling you,” says Thompson of the man who died in 2016 at 80. “You knew where he stood. He expected excellence.”
It was at the Melbourne, Fla., school that Thompson got to catch knuckleball of alum Tim Wakefield in pre-spring training bullpen sessions and meet former Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” catcher Andy Seminick. Florida Tech plays on Andy Seminick-Les Hall Field.
Thompson was an assistant coach to Curt Welch for nine seasons at Castle High School and then served three years as assistant and recruiting coordinator to John Adams at Vincennes U.
“Coach Welch is an honorable individual,” says Thompson. “He had that ability to always work and challenge the kids. He always led by example with his hard work.”
Thompson is employed as a traveling health insurance salesman. He works out his schedule so he can coach baseball.
Ted and Sheri Thompson have four children — son Dillon (23), daughters Megan (22) and Payton (17) and son Drake (16). Payton is heading into her senior year at Castle while Drake will be a junior.
Saturday, June 9
Class 1A: Northfield (16-14) vs. Daleville (20-9), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 3A: Andrean (29-6) vs. Jay County (20-6), following.
Class 2A: Boone Grove (19-5) vs. Lafayette Central Catholic (26-4), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 4A: Chesterton (18-7) vs. Fishers (27-7), following.
Class 1A: University (27-6) vs. Tecumseh (20-9), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 4A: Indianapolis Cathedral (21-8-1) vs. Castle (22-8), following.
Class 2A: Indianapolis Scecina (13-15-1) vs. Southridge (24-6), Noon CST/1 p.m. EST.
Class 3A: Indian Creek (24-5) vs. Silver Creek (24-2), following.
Tecumseh baseball coach Ted Thompson meets with his Braves players during a 2018 mound conference. Tecumseh is in the IHSAA Class 1A Plainfield Semistate.
In his first season as head baseball coach in 2018, Ted Thompson has the Tecumseh Braves in the IHSAA Class 1A Plainfield Semistate.