By STEVE KRAH
Todd DeWeese likes to keep it moving on the baseball field.
Especially when it comes to the offensive side of the game.
A 1986 graduate of Francis Joseph Reitz High School in Evansville, Ind., DeWeese played for a coach — Steve Johnston — who taught some of the concepts that DeWeese uses as the 10th-year head coach at his alma mater.
“We learned to do a lot more offensive situational things,” says DeWeese. “There were hit-and-runs, bunts and steals.
“There are a couple of things from when I played at Reitz that we still use in today’s game. It’s a lot of putting runners in motion and playing small ball.”
Led by seniors Anthony Acuff (8), Pierce Herrenbruck (5) and Nate York (5), Reitz (14-10) had 43 stolen bases and four home runs through the first 24 games of 2023.
“We use the steal more than the sacrifice bunt,” says DeWeese. “We don’t have the firepower right now so we have to incorporate the small ball.”
Former second baseman and Greater Evansville Baseball Hall of Fame inductee DeWeese played at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville for Gary Redman.
“We use defensive bunt situations that he instilled in us,” says DeWeese. “We use his slap-and-steal. You don’t see a whole lot of that.
“Rodman was very good in first-and-third situations.”
Before taking his current post, DeWeese was an assistant at Evansville Bosse for four years on the staff of Jeremy Jones (current Evansville North head coach).
Reitz (enrollment around 1,300) is a member of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Castle, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Central, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville Memorial, Evansville North, Jasper and Vincennes Lincoln).
The Panthers are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping in 2023 with Castle, Evansville Central, Evansville Harrison and Evansville North. Reitz has won five sectional titles — the last in 2015.
Elijah Dunham (Reitz Class of 2017) was a standout at Indiana University and is now with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the New York Yankees organization.
Other recent graduates moving on to college baseball include the Class of 2019’s Nolan Cook (University of Southern Indiana), Class of 2020’s Adam Euler (University of Evansville), Colin Long (Vincennes University) and Aaron Massie (Northern Kentucky University), Class of 2021’s Bryce Cape (Southeastern Illinois College) and Class of 2022’s Gavin Schippert (Wabash College) and Stone Silver (Wabash Valley College).
Cooper Davis (DePauw University), Herrenbruck (Rend Lake College), Kiefer Parsons (Oakland City University) and York (Rend Lake College) are current commits in the Class of 2023.
Reitz, which is a part of Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, plays its varsity home games at historic Bosse Field (which opened in 1915). The facility is also used by Mater Dei High in the spring and the professional Evansville Otters in the spring and summer.
While its 315 feet down the lines, it’s around 400 feet to center field and about 375 to the gaps, meaning the old park has an outfield bigger than most.
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Don Mattingly (Evansville Memorial Class of 1979) poked 25 career triples — an IHSBCA record.
Three of the top 10 single-season triples marks in IHSBCA annals belong to Memorial teams that played many of their games at Bosse Field.
“You better have a center fielder that can cover some ground,” says DeWeese.
Expansive foul ball territory often makes pop-ups an adventure.
“Bosse Field can make a lot of third basemen and first basemen look lost,” says DeWeese. “They give up on it. There’s a lot of movement and (the ball) ends up behind them.”
There’s another quirk with the proximity of dugouts to home plate.
“Bosse Field is so tight if we’re in the third base dugout and there’s a left-hander up I’ll duck down below the net line of the dugout,” says DeWeese. “You’re probably 25 feet away from home.
“You don’t have time to react. It’s right on you.”
Junior varsity, freshmen and Cub teams play and varsity practices — and occasionally plays games — at Barker Avenue Sports Complex.
Reitz Cub Baseball this year features about 20 eighth graders that are on a path toward the high school. That squad plays doubleheaders each Sunday. There are also rural youth leagues on the west side that feed athletes to Reitz.
In 2023, DeWeese counts Steve Gresham and Jay Hille as varsity assistants. Mark Zeller leads the junior varsity team with help from Camden Hahn and Terrance Davis. Freshmen are guided by Garry Barr with assistance from Kevin Kisner. Hille, Zeller, Hahn and Barr are all Reitz grads. Gresham went to Wood Memorial High School in Oakland City, Ind., and Davis to Ben Davis in Indianapolis.
DeWeese teaches Social Studies to sixth graders at Perry Heights Middle School.
Todd and wife Shelly DeWeese, a Jasper (Ind.) High School graduate, have two children — son Connor (24) and daughter Riley (23). Connor DeWeese (Class of 2017) played baseball and football and Reitz. Riley DeWeese (Class of 2018) was in soccer, track and cheerleading.