Chris Geeser is entering his eighth season as a baseball coach at North Putnam High School in Roachdale, Ind. The 2023 season will mark his fourth in charge of the Cougars program. It’s is Geeser’s desire to put a “well-organized, hard-nose competitive team” on the field. “We’re going to play the game hard,” says Geeser. “We’ll run out ground balls and give it our best effort.” Geeser, 31, promotes sportsmanship and sees no room for showboating and bat flipping in baseball. “I’d rather see the passion than the flashiness,” says Geeser. A true-blue Chicago Cubs fan, Geeser counts former North Side pitcher Carlos Zambrano among his favorites. “He was so passionate,” says Geeser of a player who won 125 games and socked 24 home runs in 11 seasons with the Cubs. Geeser was born in Rockford, Ill., and moved to Martinsville, Ind., as a fourth grader. He played four years of baseball for the Martinsville High School. Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bill Tutterow led the Artesians in Geeser’s freshman year. Luke Moscrip was head coach the next season and Mike Swartzentruber (now a Lake Central) in 2009 and 2010. “I was a big fan,” says Geeser of Swartzentruber. “We had a lot of talent my junior and senior year. He was very detailed and very intense.” Geeser graduated from Indiana State University in 2015 and was hired to teach Business at North Putnam about a week before school began in 2015-16. North Putnam (enrollment around 445) is a member of the Western Indiana Conference (with Class 2A Brown County, 2A Cloverdale, 3A Edgewood, 2A Greencastle, 3A Indian Creek, 3A Northview, 3A Owen Valley, 2A South Putnam, 2A Sullivan and 3A West Vigo). Each WIC team meets one time during the season. The Cougars are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2023 with Cloverdale, Greencastle, Parke Heritage, South Putnam and Southmont. North Putnam has won four sectional titles — the last in 2007. With many North Putnam athletes involved in football, soccer or cross country, Geeser held IHSAA Limited Contact Period practices once a week in the fall. Those attending got a chance to throw and work on defensive basics and take plenty of batting practice. “The skill that falls off faster than anything is hitting,” says Geeser. Since the winter Limited Contact Period began the Cougars are spending one day on bullpens and defensive drills and the other on hitting (in the cage or at stations around the gym). “There’s not a whole lot of standing around at my practices,” says Geeser. “We’d like to get 100-150 swings.” Sharing facilities with winter sports means coming in before school or going later in the evening. North Putnam offers basketball, wrestling and swimming in the winter. Winter workouts have had as many as 20 attendees, but the average is around 12. Since Geeser became head coach the Cougars have fielded varsity and junior varsity teams and he expects the same in 2023. He guesses there might be 24 or 25 players in the program in the spring. While there are no recent graduates in college baseball, Geeser sees that potential for junior right-handed pitcher Jaylen Windmiller, who struck out 27 and walked five in 22 2/3 innings for a 2022 team that went 13-13. Geeser’s assistant coaches include returnees Cameron Brothers and Jackson Kendall and newcomer Anthony Rossock. Brothers and Kendall are North Putnam graduates and Rossock, who played at Anderson University, is a Greencastle alum. All three are North Putnam teachers. North Putnam Middle School fields a team in the spring made up of seventh and eighth graders (and sometimes sixth graders). North Putnam Youth Baseball League sponsors teams from T-ball to 12U. Geeser is actively involved with the organization. A number of renovations to the school’s on-field diamond last summer, including rolling and re-building the infield, mound and home plate areas. “I think our field’s pretty nice,” says Geeser. “We have really good lights.” A Musco Lighting system can be controlled by a phone app. Chris andy Lacey Geeser celebrated four years of marriage in the summer of 2022.
Kurt Kyle took over as head baseball coach at South Putnam Middle/High School in Greencastle, Ind., for the 2022 season. As he gets his Eagles ready for 2023, there are a few things he sees as important. “We want to continue to have a (junior varsity) and go down to the (South Putnam Youth League) and build our program back up,” says Kyle. “We want to make the routine plays. You should look to better yourself every practice. “Don’t beat yourself up on errors. Let stuff go or it’s going to haunt you the rest of the game.” As Kyle sees it, pitchers “have a job to do.” “Don’t let batters or runners get in your head,” says Kyle. “We have defense behind you. “I want to win, but I want to see you guys progress throughout the season.” A fan of “small ball” — things like bunting and hitting behind the runner — Kyle wants his team to put that into their arsenal. “A lot of teams in (the Western Indiana Conference) do it,” says Kyle. “It’s a lost art around (Putnam County).” South Putnam (enrollment around 385) is a member of the WIC with Brown County, Cascade, Cloverdale, Edgewood, Greencastle, Indian Creek, North Putnam, Northview, Owen Valley, Sullivan and West Vigo. Each conference foe meets once each. The Eagles were part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping in 2022 with Cloverdale, North Putnam, Parke Heritage and Southmont. South Putnam has won four sectional championships— the last in 2010. IHSAA Limited Contact Period activity began from the week of Labor Day and wrapped past week. With most baseball players in the school involved with football, Kyle had about eight at twice-a-week sessions. The Eagles play home games on Dalton Field, which is characterized by the short distance from home plate to the back stop (Kyle estimates 10 feet) and the left field fence (the coach guesses less than 300 feet). Bill Jackman is one assistant coach and Kyle says he hopes to bring in Mike Wolvin as the other. Gavin Eyster (Class of 2023) plays travel baseball. Kyle says he could play in college. As a feeder system, there is South Putnam Youth League (T-ball to 12U) and middle school club ball (grades 6-8) which plays its games at the high school. A 1994 graduate of Cloverdale (Ind.) High School, Kyle served as an assistant or middle school coach at his alma mater before taking over as head coach in 2019. He led the Clovers through 2021. Kyle played at Cloverdale for head coach Sonny Stolz. “He was old school an tough-nosed,” says Kyle. “He never let us get away with anything. “He was tough on me. I was a catcher all four years.” Kyle is employed by Crown Equipment Corporation in Greencastle, where he builds and repairs lift trucks. Kurt is married to Jessica. Between them they have four children (three girls) — Kendra (22), Kayla (20), Keenan (13) and Olive (9).
Fundamentals will be a priority as new head baseball coach Greg Taylor begins to make his imprint on the program at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar, Ind. Taylor has been guiding the Braves on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the current IHSAA Limited Contact Period. “We’re establishing fundamentals from the very beginning and preparing them for off-season drills,” says Taylor, whose players will take part in weight training, arm conditioning and have a chance to hit in the “barn” as Indian Creek gets prepared for the 2023 season. “Our strength and conditioning coach (Bram Wood) is fantastic. (Strength training) gives them the advantage of being physically fit and it plays into health. The boys miss less (play and practice time) and are not hurt as often.” Taylor notes that Wood’s training is sports-specific, even geared to positions within sports. Three assistant coaches — Chris Steinway, Mark Ferguson and Craig Davis — were part of the IC staff a year ago. Tim Guyer is new to the program. The Braves look to field varsity and junior squads in 2023. Indian Creek (enrollment around 625) is a member of the Western Indiana Conference (with Brown County, Cascade, Cloverdale, Edgewood, Greencastle, North Putnam, Northview, Owen Valley, South Putnam, Sullivan and West Vigo). The Braves were part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping in 2022 with Brown County, Edgewood, Owen Valley, Sullivan and West Vigo. Indian Creek has won six sectional titles — the last in 2019. A fieldhouse, which will be used by baseball and other teams, is under construction at Indian Creek. The location of the softball field has been moved. Turf was added to the football field for this fall and is available for baseball and other squads to practice on when their diamonds are too wet. There is a movement to establish a middle school baseball program that would play as a club sport in the spring. Meanwhile, the high school staff is working with local youth league and travel ball players. “We want them to engage in our program,” says Taylor. “That’s an important thing — getting a feeder program following the same philosophy, fundamentals as high school.” A volunteer years ago at Indian Creek when Brian Luse was head coach, Taylor followed Luse to Franklin Community. Recent Indian Creek graduates who moved on to college baseball include the Class of 2018’s Dylan Sprong (Franklin, Ind., College) and 2019’s Dustin Sprong (University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.) and Wyatt Phillips (University of Indianapolis). For several years, Taylor has coached travel baseball. The last four years have been with the Shelby County Cubs. A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Taylor is a 1992 graduate of Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, where he played four years for Spartans head coach Tom Muth. “We did a lot of fundamental work,” says Taylor, who was a shortstop. He played two years each for Indiana Baseball Hall of Famer Jerry Blemker at Vincennes (Ind.) University and Gary Hogan at the University of Arkansas Little Rock. Taylor was selected in the 40th round of the 1996 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. The switch-hitting middle infielder played through 1998. Future National League MVP Jimmy Rollins was a teammate on the 1997 Piedmont Boll Weevils and 1998 Clearwater Phillies and the two sometime roomed together on the road. A senior director in medical affairs for pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, Greg has been married to Kate for 25 years. Kate Taylor is in public relations and coaches diving at Indian Creek. The couple has two children — Ella (16) and Grayson (13). Ella Taylor is a junior diving and track athlete at IC. Indiana Creek seventh grader Grayson Taylor is in baseball, tennis, basketball, diving and track.
Several players doubled down on power during the Indiana college baseball week of Feb. 28-March 6. NCAA Division III Hanover’s Alex Christie (Center Grove High School graduate) knocked five home runs for the week — two against Purchase and one each against Mary Washington, Kean and Neumann — in Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was Christie’s first five homers of the 2022 season. Also lofting five homers was NAIA Indiana Wesleyan’s Evan Salmon — two homers in Game 1 and one in Game 2 against Cleary and one apiece in Games 3 and 4 against Spring Arbor. IWU’s Zach Rabe clouted two in Game 1 against Cleary and two in Game 3 against Spring Arbor. Salmon has eight homers in ’22 and Rabe four. NCAA D-I’s Ball State’s Trenton Quartermaine socked four home runs for the week — one against Coastal Carolina, one in Game 1 against Florida A&M and two in Game 2 against Florida A&M. Quartermaine’s season total for circuit clouts is five. NAIA Indiana Southeast’s Trevor Campbell homered twice against Lindsey Wilson and once each in Games 1 and 3 against Northwestern Ohio. Ray Aponte smacked homers against Lindsey Wilson and Northwestern Ohio (Games 1 and 3). NCAA D-III Franklin’s Logan Demkovich (Munster) homered in all three games against Hope while Noah Wood (Indianapolis Lutheran) produced big flies in Games 1 and 2. Purdue’s Cam Thompson cracked a walk-off homer as Purdue (12-0) topped Longwood 6-5 in 11 innings in Game 3 of the series. The Boilermakers continue to enjoy the best start in program history. Thompson has two homers in ’22. Indiana’s Brock Tibbitts (New Albany) rapped two homers against Miami (Ohio) while teammates Matthew Ellis (Miami and Game 2 vs. Missouri State) and Homestead graduate Carter Mathison (Games 1 and 3 vs. Missouri State) also enjoyed two-homer weeks. Ellis has five dingers on the year while Tibbitts and Mathison (the 2021 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year) have two each. Butler’s Aaron Steinhart went deep twice against Northern Kentucky. The blasts were his first two of ’22. Evansville’s Tanner Craig (Austin) cranked homers against Kentucky, Ohio (Game 1) and Illinois-Chicago (Game 2). He has six homers on the season. At 5-3, Valparaiso is off to its best eight-game start since 1999. NCAA D-II University of Indianapolis third baseman Armen Torosian homered in Games 2 and 3 against Wayne State, raising his season total to three. Purdue Northwest finally opened its season and went 3-1 in a series at Southwest Baptist. Anderson’s Tyler Smitherman (Westfield) bashed two homers in Game 1 against St. Norbert, doubling his season HR tally. Earlham’s Christian Lancianese homered twice in Game 2 against Wilmington. Nathan Lancianese homered once in Game 3 of the series. They were the season’s first bombs for both players. Manchester’s Brady Perez (Rochester) ahieved lift-off in Games 2 and 4 against Kalamazoo, raising his season HR mark to five. Rose-Hulman’s Shane Garner (Sullivan) rapped his first two homers of ’22 in Game 1 against Saint Mary’s (Minn.) and Dubuque. NAIA Saint Francis freshman Sam Pesa (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) homered in Games 1 and 3 against Huntington. His grand slam in Game 1 was part of a 13-run fifth inning. Pesa has a team-best five homers in ’22. Goshen’s Peyton Smith (Daleville) homered in Games 3 and 4 against Grace. He has three homers on the season. It wasn’t all about slugging. NAIA Indiana University Kokomo posted three shutouts against visiting Ohio Christian — 5-0, 10-0 and 1-0. Owen Callaghan (Hamilton Southeastern), Lucas Letsinger (Hamilton Heights), Ben Harris (Northwestern), J.T. Holton (Clinton Central) and Ryan Beck (Mt. Vernon of Fortville) combined for 18 strikeouts and six walks over 23 innings. Indiana University South Bend beat Concordia (Neb. 1) 2-1 in Game 2 in Auburndale, Fla., without a hit. Nolan Unger’s second-inning groundout drove in Coby Campbell with the first run and Jake Dykstra (Lake Central) scored on a seventh-inning wild pitch. The Titans have won four straight. Crown Point graduate Josh Hoogewerf (9 K’s, 0 BB, 7 IP) and New Prairie alum Noah Brettin (2 K’s, 0 BB, 1 IP) combined on a 1-hitter as NCAA D-III Trine beat John Carroll 1-0 in the first game of a doubleheader in Lake Myrtle, Fla. Dalton Nikirk (Bedford North Lawrence) delivered the walk-off RBI single to plate Easton Rhodes (DeKalb) for the Thunder.
Friday, March 4 Indianapolis 5, Wayne State 3 Southwest Baptist 7, Purdue Northwest 4 Purdue Northwest 5, Southwest Baptist 0 Southern Indiana 11, Trevecca Nazarene 3
Saturday, March 5 Wayne State 13, Indianapolis 2 Wayne State 26, Indianapolis 11 Purdue Northwest 7, Southwest Baptist 2 Trevecca Nazarene 9, Southern Indiana 4 Trevecca Nazarene 15, Southern Indiana 3
Sunday, March 6 Wayne State 13, Indianapolis 3 Purdue Northwest 6, Southwest Baptist 5
Saturday, March 5 Earlham 19, Wilmington 9 Franklin 18, Hope 6 Hope 27, Franklin 7 Hanover 11, Neumann 3 Anderson 11, St. Norbert 4 Anderson 20, St. Norbert 11 Kalamazoo 19, Manchester 6 Kalamazoo 13, Manchester 5 DePauw 9, Hendrix 6 Hendrix 8, DePauw 6 Aurora 9, Wabash 8 (10 inn.) Wabash 16, Aurora 3
Sunday, March 6 Anderson 6, St. Norbert 2 Earlham 12, Wilmington 11 Kalamazoo 15, Manchester 1 Kalamazoo 8, Manchester 6 Trine 1, John Carroll 0 (8 inn.) John Carroll 15, Trine 0
NAIA Monday, Feb. 28 Spring Arbor 9, Goshen 2 Spring Arbor 3, Goshen 0
Tuesday, March 1 Calumet of St. Joseph 19, Lincoln Christian 1 Calumet of St. Joseph 8, Lincoln Christian 0 (suspended in 3rd to April 11) Grace 12, IU South Bend 7
Wednesday, March 2 Indiana Wesleyan 17, Cleary 8 Cleary 11, Indiana Wesleyan 2 IU Southeast 16, Lindsey Wilson 2
Friday, March 4 Brewton-Parker 20, Calumet of St. Joseph 4 Saint Francis 14, Huntington 9 Huntington 6, Saint Francis 1 Bethel 9, Mt. Vernon Nazarene 6 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 13, Bethel 0 Grace 6, Goshen 2 Goshen 1, Grace 0 Spring Arbor 2, Indiana Wesleyan 1 Indiana Wesleyan 7, Spring Arbor 6 Taylor 8, Marian 1 Taylor 5, Marian 1 IU Kokomo 5, Ohio Christian 0 Oakland City 4, West Virginia Tech 2
Saturday, March 5 Calumet of St. Joseph 6, Brewton-Parker 4 Brewton-Parker 12, Calumet of St. Joseph 11 Huntington 6, Saint Francis 5 Saint Francis 6, Huntington 1 Bethel 9, Mt. Nazarene 6 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 5, Bethel 2 Mt. Vernon Nazarene 5, Bethel 3 Grace 16, Goshen 12 Grace 13, Goshen 11 Indiana Wesleyan 26, Spring Arbor 1 Indiana Wesleyan 19, Spring Arbor 18 Marian 20, Taylor 10 (8 inn.) Taylor 12, Marian 10 IU Kokomo 10, Ohio Christian 0 IU Kokomo 1, Ohio Christian 0 Oakland 11, West Virginia Tech 10 (11 inn.) Oakland 7, West Virginia Tech 6 IU Southeast 26, Northwestern Ohio 12 Northwestern Ohio 3, IU Southeast 2 IU South Bend 20, Michigan-Dearborn 5 IU South Bend 13, Michigan-Dearborn 9
Sunday, March 6 IU Southeast 11, Northwestern Ohio 8 IU South Bend 8, Concorida (Neb.) 7 IU South Bend 2, Concorida (Neb.) 1 Southeastern 6, Indiana Tech 2 Southeastern 6, Indiana Tech 0
Junior College Monday, Feb. 28 Vincennes 7, Joliet 2
Friday, March 4 Ivy Tech Northeast 4, Anderson JV 3 Wabash Valley 16, Vincennes 0 Kellogg 16, Vincennes 7
Saturday, March 5 Wabash Valley 16, Vincennes 0 Kellogg 16, Vincennes 7 Miami-Hamilton 13, Marian’s Ancilla 8 Ivy Tech Northeast 13, Lincoln Trail 3 Lincoln Trail 8, Ivy Tech Northeast 6
Sunday, March 6 Lake County 1, Marian’s Ancilla 0 Lake County 16, Marian’s Ancilla 5 Lincoln Trail 12, Ivy Tech Northeast 5 Ivy Tech Northeast 6, Lincoln Trail 1
Braden Scott enjoyed the best outing of his young professional baseball pitching career in his most-recent start for the Evansville (Ind.) Otters. On July 24 at Gateway, the left-hander went 7 2/3 shutout innings, fanning seven, walking two and giving up three hits in 29 batters faced and was selected as independent Frontier League Pitcher of the Week. Through six starts and 34 innings, Scott is 3-2 with a 2.91 earned run average. “It’s been a really good experience,” says Scott, who finished his collegiate career in the spring at Indiana University. Scott signed with the Otters on June 21. In his first appearance June 24 at Joliet, he tossed seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts and two walks. He faced 26 batters and gave up two hits. Scott, 23, moved to 2-0 as he won again on July 1 in the first game of a home doubleheader against against Florence. He fanned five and walked one while yielding six hits in the game’s first six innings. He faced 23 hitters. On July 6, Scott (2-1) took the loss in a game at historic Bosse Field against Joliet. He pitched six innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in 24 batters faced. Scott went just four innings and took the loss in the second game of a July 11 doubleheader against visiting Schaumburg. He struck out four, walked one and gave up six runs and seven hits while facing 21 batters. In a no-decision July 17 against visiting Southern Illinois, Scott hurled 3 1/3 innings with two strikeouts, five walks and gave up three hits and one run in facing 18 batters. Scott’s first pro team is guided by Andy McCauley, who recorded his 1,000th career managerial victory July 2 at Gateway. “He’s been around the game a long time and he knows what he’s doing,” says Scott of McCauley. “I like the way he treats us — like professionals. “You come in and get your stuff done.” Evansville pitching coach Max Peterson has also aided the 6-foot-3, 215-pound southpaw with approach and execution. “He’s helped me mentally on the mound and with how I have to carry myself,” says Scott. “I’ve thrown a cutter for two years, but I never threw it consistently. “Now it’s a big go-to pitch. I’m able to use it for my game now.” When thrown correctly, the cutter has more horizontal than vertical break and goes into a right-handed batter and away from a lefty. Throwing from the left side has always been an advantage for Scott. “I’ve never thrown a ball that’s been exactly straight,” says Scott. “I’ve been able to miss a lot of barrels and not give up a lot of hard hits.” Scott has five pitches — four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, slider, change-up and cutter. His four-seam sits at 88 to 90 mph. The slider is more a hybrid between a slider and curve. “In my last start I was almost solely throwing fastballs and sliders,” says Scott. “I threw maybe four cutters.” Scott employs a “circle” change. As part of the Otters’ five-man starting rotation, Scott competes every fifth or sixth day. His next start is scheduled Friday, July 30 against Southern Illinois at Bosse Field. On the day after a start, Scott does some throwing and gets in an aggressive cardio session to get the blood flow going. He is also charting that night’s pitchers. He throws a bullpen two days before his next start. A day before a start, the lefty gets in a workout with movement and stretching and some light long toss — maybe 150 feet. He then sits in the bullpen and watches how pitchers attack hitters and looks for batter tendencies. A 2016 graduate of Shakamak Junior-Senior High School in Jasonville, Ind., Scott played two seasons at Olney (Ill.) Central College (2017-18) and three at Indiana (2019-21). Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chip Sweet and Todd Gambill were his head coaches at Shakamak. Scott was on varsity for three years. “He was awesome,” says Scott of Sweet. “I grew up with his daughter (Mariah). We won (an IHSAA Class 1A) state championship in his final year of coaching (2014). “He taught me how to carry myself on and off the baseball field.” Gambill took the Lakers back to the state title game in 2015 (finishing as runner-up) — this time at the 2A level. “He did an awesome job,” says Scott of Gambill. Scott was a pinch hitter in the 2014 1A title game and started at first base in the 2015 2A final. Scott played for Blue Knights head coach Dennis Conley and assistants Andy Lasher and Bryce Labhart at Olney Central. Conley doubled as head coach and pitching coach. “Conley made a pretty big impact on my baseball career,” says Scott. “He still helps me. “He’s the reason I’ve got this position at Evansville. He’s been around the game long enough that he knows just about everybody out there.” Jeff Mercer is the Hoosiers head coach and Justin Parker was the pitching coach at IU until taking that role at the University of South Carolina in recent weeks. “(Mercer) is a phenomenal coach,” says Scott. “His main goal is player development. (Parker) is very good job of player development as well. “I wish (Mercer) all the best and hope the program keeps trending in the right direction.” Scott made 39 appearances (all in relief) for the Hoosiers, going 4-0 with one save and 3.25 earned run average. He produced 81 strikeouts and 21 walks in 55 1/3 innings. In 2021, he got into 15 games and was 2-0 with a 4.08 ERA. He whiffed 28 and walked eight in 17 2/3 innings. He also earned his Sports Marketing & Management degree. A starter at Olney Central, Scott was used mostly in relief during his last years of summer ball. Scott played for the M.I.N.K. Collegiate Baseball League’s Ozark Generals (Springfield, Mo.) and the Prospect League’s Tyler Wampler-coached Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex in the summer of 2017. He was with the Northwoods League’s Willmar (Minn.) Stingers then the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association National Team that placed second at the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., in 2018. Scott played for the Coastal Plain League’s Morehead City (N.C.) Marlins in 2019 and CPL’s Macon (Ga.) Bacon in 2020. Among his Bacon teammates were fellow IU pitchers Connor Manous, Ty Bothwell, Matt Litwicki and Brayden Tucker. Before landing with the Otters, Scott pitched for the 2021 Rex, coached by A.J. Reed. Braden is the son of Jimmie Scott and Andee Mullins. Younger siblings include Bailey Scott (21) and Kaleb Gadberry (18). Both parents were athletes at Sullivan (Ind.) High School. Bailey Scott was involved in volleyball, cheerleading and track at Shakamak and is now a nursing student at Ivy Tech in Terre Haute. Caleb Gadberry played golf at Shakamak, where he graduated in 2021.
Shakamak Junior-Senior High School in Jasonville, Ind., has established a tradition of excellence on the baseball diamond. As the Lakers go into the one-game IHSAA Class 1A Mooresville Semistate against first-time regional winner Borden (22-6-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 12, they can count all-time totals of 26 sectionals, 13 regionals, seven semistates and two state titles (2008 and 2014). The Shakamak-Borden winner moves on to the State Finals to play Washington Township (25-7) or Cowan (15-13) either Monday or Tuesday, June 21 or 22 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. In 2021, Shakamak beat White River Valley 14-0, Clay City 10-0 and Bloomfield 4-1 to win the White River Valley Sectional and Southwestern (Shelbyville) 10-1 and Oldenburg Academy 13-0 to reign at the Morristown Regional. The Lakers were 2-4 in the six games before sectional. “We got hot at the right time,” says Jeremy Yeryar (pronounced YIRE), Shakamak’s first-year head coach. “The kids got hot at the right time. The way we approach it we’re 5-0. “The postseason. That’s when it really matters. “The pitching’s been really good and solid. The defense and the bats have really come alive lately. We switched up things in practice and kept us in game mode. “We’re playing for those seven seniors. Everybody who’s been at this school would like to put that uniform on one more time. I don’t want to let go of the seniors just yet.” The Class of 2021 is represented by Ethan Burdette, Logan Burris, Trevor Ellingsworth, Brevon Fulford, Bryce Jenkins, Clayton “Buddy” Stone and Peyton Yeryar (cousin to Jeremy). There have been plenty of success, but Yeryar is not taking credit for those. “It’s my motto: Players win; Coaches lose,” says Yeryar. “If we lose, that’s on me. If we win, that’s on the kids.” Yeryar, a 1993 Shakamak graduate who played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chip Sweet. “The program that I played under him is a lot of the program I’m running,” says Yeryar. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. “We teach more than a game. We teach life lessons along the way. Baseball is not fair at times and neither is life. You can come up short at times. Baseball is a game of failure. “We hold our athletes to a high standard. You should lead at school or anywhere out in the public.” Yeryar, who was a Lakers assistant for Sweet and his successor Todd Gambill, asks his players to give their all each time out. “They know what’s at stake,” says Yeryar. “We lost a whole year last year (to the COVID-19 pandemic) and it can happen again. “So if this was the last time I got to play this game was I satisfied with the way I did it?” Shakamak graduates Dylan Collins (Class of 2015), Jake Walters (Class of ’15), Brent Yeryar (Class of ’95), Brett Yeryar (Class of ’14), Braxton Yeryar (Class of ’15) and Tanner Yeryar (Class of ’17) and Bloomfield alum Jason Pegg (mid-1990’s) are also part of the 2021 coaching staff. Brent and Brett are Jeremy’s cousins. Braxton and Tanner are the youngest sons of Jeremy and wife Stacy (a Shakamak cafeteria worker). The oldest son — Braden Cox (Class of ’13) — also played baseball for the Lakers. Collins played at Vincennes University and Purdue Northwest. Brett and Tanner Yeryar played at VU. Another former Laker player — Braden Scott (Class of ’16) — pitched out of the bullpen the past few seasons for Indiana University. While not committed, Burdette and Peyton Yeryar have drawn interest from college program. Shakamak (enrollment around 200) is a member of the Southwestern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, North Central of Farmersburg, North Daviess and White River Valley). The Lakers are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Bloomfield, Clay City, Eminence, North Central and White River Valley (the 2021 host). Besides conference and postseason opponents, Shakamak has played Bloomington North, Jasper, Martinsville, Owen Valley, Riverton Parke, Sullivan, Terre Haute North Vigo, Terre Haute South Vigo, Washington and West Vigo. “We play a very brutal schedule,” says Yeryar. “We always have.” The Lakers play just one game each against SWIAC teams to free them up to play a strong non-conference slate. It gets them ready for the postseason and is beneficial to their opponents. “Shakamak travels well,” says Yeryar, who also does utilities for the City of Jasonville. “Coaches always keep us on the schedule. They say, ‘you make a game out of everything.’ “We take a lot of pride in that.” The Lakers plays home games on-campus. The field got plenty of attention from coaches and players the past year. “The kids do the field work with me,” says Yeryar. “If you work on the field you’ll respect it and take pride in it.” Shakamak Youth League (T-ball to age 12), the Shakamak Lakers travel team and a junior high program (grades 6-8) all go into feeding high school baseball.
Braden Cox (left), Stacy, Jeremy, Tanner and Braxton Yeryar.
Shakamak baseball seniors for 2021 (from left): Logan Burris, Trevor Ellingsworth, Brevon Fulford, Buddy Stone, head coach Jeremy Yeryar, Peyton Yeryar, Bryce Jenkins and Ethan Burdette.
“It’s been an up-and-down ride,” says first-year Wolves head coach Ron Alabaugh. “We lost last year with the pandemic and our basketball team went to the (2020-21) State Finals.
“Basketball players are key parts of the baseball program.”
These hoopsters, which finished as 2A state runners-up to Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian, played catch-up while knocking the baseball rust off and getting their arms in shape at the beginning of the season.
“It took a little while to get things going,” says Alabaugh. “But they stuck with it and worked hard. It’s paying off for us late in the season.
“Winning is just as contagious as losing. At a certain part of a season we expected to lose. We had to work on that frame of mind and turn it around. It was rough on the boys, but we were able to do it.”
By the close of the regular slate, the Wolves were down to 15 players in the program. Two seniors — Joey Bouffard and Connor Davis — have been drawing interest from college baseball programs.
In recent years, Rockville/Parke Heritage sent Kaleb Huxford (Maryville University in St. Louis), Dalton Laney (Indiana State) and Hunter Michalic (Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind.) to college diamonds. Logan White is on the football team at Franklin (Ind.) College).
WRC teams played each other twice — sometimes in home-and-away weekday series and sometimes in Saturday doubleheaders.
Regular-season wins came against Covington (twice), Attica (twice), North Putnam, North Vermillion (twice), Fountain Central (twice), Sullivan, Greencastle and South Newton.
Parke Heritage plays at a facility named for former Rockville athletic director Stan Gideon, who died in 2006.
The Wolves count local youth leagues, travel teams and a junior high team as part of its feeder program. The high school took over the old Rockville High building. Parke Heritage Middle School is in the structure that once housed Turkey Run in Marshall, Ind.
Rockville won 12 sectional titles, five regionals, two semistates and was 1A state runners-up in 2014 and 1A state champions in 2015. Turkey Run won four sectionals.
Alabaugh was an assistant at Rockville to Bob Kyle for the 2008-13 and 2016-19 seasons.
This spring, Alabaugh’s staff includes Mark Harper and Jarred Russell.
His father — Ron Alabaugh — attends every game. He played many years of semipro baseball for the old Blanford Cardinals as a teammate of Kyle. Young Ron was the batboy and later played on the same field as a member of the Clinton American Legion Post 140 team.
“My mother (Beverly) walked away with the (sectional) game ball last night,” says Alabaugh. “She put up with 50-some years of my baseball. That’s the least I could do for her.”
A 1987 graduate of South Vermillion High School in Clinton, Ind., Alabaugh played for Tim Terry near the beginning of Terry’s Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame career.
Terry’s longevity in establishing a successful program is a marvel to Alabaugh, who counts winning a sectional title in his sophomore year among his favorite baseball memories.
The Wildcats beat Montezuma and Rosedale to win the 1985 South Vermillion Sectional and lost to Terre Haute South Vigo featuring Kyle Kraemer in the semifinals of the Terre North Regional semifinals.
Alabaugh has two degrees from Indiana State University. After nearly two decades in the car business — he had his own Chevrolet dealership — he decided to go back to college and at 43 he was ready to be an educator. He started at North Montgomery, where he was also an assistant girls basketball coach on the staff of Ryan Nuppnau.
The 2020-21 year is his sixth at Rockville/Parke Heritage. He is a Social Studies teacher, instructing classes in history, psychology and economics.
Ron and wife Annie Alabaugh have a married son named Jordan (his bride is Nikki). Jordan Alabaugh was a golfer at South Vermillion.
“We try to teach them some life skills as we go, too,” says Jones, a 1995 North Knox graduate entering his fourth season in charge of the Warriors in 2019. “We are student-athletes first. You have to pass classes first to be eligible. The athlete comes after.
“We show up for practice, work hard and try to improve.”
Each team plays the other once to determine the conference champion.
Non-conference opponents for the Warriors include Clay City, Eastern Greene, Lawrenceville (Ill.), Linton-Stockton, Mitchell, North Central (Farmersburg), North Daviess, Pike Central, Shakamak, Sullivan, Washington and White River Valley. North Knox is scheduled to play in the March 30 Springs Valley tournament (which also includes Clay City and Loogootee) and the April 27 Evansville Bosse Invitational on historic Bosse Field.
The Warriors are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Eastern Greene, Linton-Stockton, Mitchell, South Knox and Southridge. North Knox has won six sectional crowns — the last in 1998.
Jones is assisted by Damon Yenne, Roger Lemons (statistician), Mike Sherenand Josh Decoursey.
North Knox field a varsity and junior varsity team, but does not have enough players for both to play in separate locations on the same day.
Feeding the high school is a junior high program coached by Ray Clark and Randy Archer. The team plays some games at the high school and some at Vincennes Babe Ruth League.
Youth baseball has been played in Bicknell, Freelandville and Oaktown, but numbers have been low.
“Baseball around here has been dying out,” says Jones. “I’ve been trying to bring it back.”
Jones, a Vincennes University graduate, coached travel baseball in the area before taking over at North Knox. His son, Cole Jones, plays in the summer of the J Cards of Jasper, Ind.
North Knox graduate Brayden Trinkle is now on the baseball team at Vincennes University.
Tragedy hit the community with the death of Jacob Williams. He was one of the top students in his class and a baseball and football player. He drowned in a stripper pit in July 2017, the summer before what would have been his sophomore year at North Knox. The baseball team wore a memorial patch for him last season and is remembered on social media with a hashtag: #livelikejacob.
“He is still missed by his friends and classmates,” says Jones. “I had coached him on other teams (as he was) growing up.”
Paul and Jennifer Jones have been married for 19 years. Jennifer Jones is a teacher’s aide/physical education teacher at North Knox Primary School. Besides 16-year-old Cole, who played soccer and basketball as well as baseball, the couple has seventh grader volleyball, basketball and softball player Reagan (13) and kindergartner Cambrie (6).
Nevin Ashley, a 2003 North Knox graduate, played three seasons at Indiana State University and 11 in professional baseball, including 12 games in the big leagues with the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers.
The 2018 North Knox Warriors (from left): First row — Austin Greubel, Chase Albrecht, Brayten Trinkle, Brant Trinkle and Cole Richter; Second row — Cole Jones, Brayden Thorne, Zach Boyles, Caleb Wise, Ethan Snyder, Ty Crane, David Lamb and Jacob Simison; Third row — head coach Paul Jones, statistician Roger Lemons, Brandon Decoursey, Keagan Thomas, Trey Keller, Dennis Stalcup and assistants Damon Yenne and Josh Decoursey.
Paul Jones, a 1995 North Knox Junior-Senior High School graduate, is head baseball coach at the school. He is also a Knox County deputy and resource officer at North Knox Intermediate School.
Brian McCrary does not have a deep roster or abundant resources, but the head coach is working to make his athletes better at Rivet Middle/High School in Vincennes, Ind.
McCrary enters his third season in charge of the Patriots in 2019 after years in the travel baseball world.
In each of his first two seasons at the Catholic school, McCrary has had to find enough players to field a team. With just two seniors on a team made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, Rivet won two games in 2017.
“We took some lumps,” says McCrary. “Working on mentality alone was a challenge.
“We got run-ruled left and right.”
The win total tripled in 2018.
“We were improving with basically the same team,” says McCrary. “It is a process at Rivet. You get a leadership class of two or three kids then what do you have after that?
“If you have numbers, you have options. We don’t have numbers. We get the most out of them. We’ve made tremendous strides.”
Ten players — three are seniors, three juniors, four sophomores — are back for 2019 on a roster of 11. All but two play basketball.
The seniors are McCaine Claycomb, Colton Mouzin and Austin Thomas. Claycomb was the Vincennes Sun-Commercial Player of the Year. Mouzin is an all-area baseball and soccer player. The Patriots were impacted last year when catcher Thomas got hurt and left the lineup.
Rivet (enrollment around 80 for Grades 9-12 with less than 30 boys) is a member of the Blue Chip Athletic Conference (with Barr-Reeve, Loogootee, North Knox, Northeast Dubois, Shoals, South Knox, Washington Catholic and Wood Memorial).
Non-conference opponents include Dugger, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Memorial, Jasper, Lawrenceville (Ill.), Linton-Stockton, Mount Carmel (Ill.), North Central (Farmersburg), Olney (Ill.) and Princeton. In the past, the Patriots have played Lincoln and Sullivan.
Rivet is part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Barr-Reeve, Loogootee, North Daviess and Shoals. The Patriots have won nine sectional titles — the last two in 2013 and 2014. The Patriots were 1A state runners-up to Lafayette Central Catholic in both 2009 and 2013.
McCrary constantly educates himself about the game by attending clinics and talking with experts.
McCrary met Rodgers at a travel ball clinic. McCrary and his two oldest sons — Colton (a senior at Vincennes Lincoln High School) and Cayden (a seventh grader at Clark Middle School) — have been affiliated with the Vincennes Green Monsters. Brian and Chelsea McCrary’s other two children are first-grade son Ryker and and 2-year-old daughter Oakley.
Rivet players get attention from a coaching staff that includes assistants Conner Eck, Curt Hunkler, Mike Mayles, Curt McCrary and Landon Robbins. Eck, Hunkler and Robbins all played at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill. Hunker, Mayles and Robbins are Rivet graduates. Curt McCrary is Brian’s cousin.
“We have classroom work — chalkboard and video — and turn it over to drills,” says McCrary, who has figured out that his team is made up of individuals with differing outlooks and ways of learning.
“Not every kid’s the same,” says McCrary. “Kids today are nowhere near kids of old. Kids’ styles and demeanors have changed completely.
“You have to be willing to change with these kids a little bit to make it work.”
Like other coaches of spring sports, McCrary has to contend with the fact that athletes are sometimes ready for a break by the time their season roles around.
“Baseball suffers because it’s at the end of the school year,” says McCrary. He notes that spring break this year coincides with the beginning of preseason practice (March 11).
The Rivet campus is located on Barnett Street. The school plays its home baseball games on a field about three miles away near Lincoln High and St. Vincent Rectory on Hart Street. The grounds also has an indoor facility known as “The Butch” in honor of late supporter Butch Thomas.
Chad Thomas had the building built in his father’s honor and also helps attend to the maintenance of the diamond.
The team is responsible for the upkeep of the field and the funding of the program.
“We buy our baseballs, uniforms, dirt and chalk,” says McCrary. “Our kids respect what they have.”
Established in 1958, Vincennes Cub League offers baseball for kids as young as 4. The organization hosted the 10U Cal Ripken World Series in 2018. Also last year, a Babe Ruth League was added for ages 13-15.
McCrary says he would like to see more of an emphasis on fundamentals at the Cub level.
A 1996 Vincennes Lincoln graduate, McCrary played baseball for the Alices until his junior year then put all of his energy into another sport as a senior.
It was on the mat in high school that he had an experience that he shares with his young athletes today.
McCrary was competing in the semistate needing to win his second aka “ticket” round match to qualify for the IHSAA State Finals. He was ahead 5-1 in the final period when his opponent rallied to beat him 6-5.
“Just because you’re supposed to be there doesn’t mean you’re going to get there,” says McCrary. “It takes work.”
With a renewed interest in baseball, McCrary attend a 1998 Cincinnati Reds tryout camp at Bosse Field in Evansville. He made the first two day of cuts then decided not to attend the third day. His wife, Chelsea, was closer to completing her degree at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne then he was at Vincennes University and they had a son on the way so Brian went into the work world. He is now employed by Vincennes Water Utilities.
“I regret everyday not going back to that third day of tryouts,” says McCrary. “But life is full of what if’s.
“I try to coach with a little bit of life lessons. Challenge yourself to win for the team today. Ask yourself, ‘did you cheat your team?’”
Brian McCrary (center) poses with two of his sons — Xxx (left) and Xxx (right) — during a Vincennes Green Monsters travel baseball tournament.
The 2019 baseball season will be the third for Brian McCrary at head coach at Rivet Midde/High School in Vincennes, Ind.
Vincennes Rivet baseball coach Brian McCrary visits at the mound with Colton Mouzin, McCaine Claycomb and Austin Thomas. All three players return for their senior year with the Patriots in 2019.
As a third baseman and pitcher, Wells started on varsity as a freshman for head coach John Heckman at Owen Valley. It wasn’t a common practice at the school at that time.
“Age doesn’t really matter,” says Wells of the message being sent by his coach. “You put your best nine out there and go with it.”
After the spring of 1999, John Heckman turned the Patriots program after that season to his son, Trent Heckman.
“I I learned a lot about quality of practice and to work hard at all times,” says Wells of the Heckamans. Wells graduated from OV in 2002.
Gary Vaught, who retired after the 2018 season with 808 career victories and a pair of trips to the NCAA Division II World Series, passed on the importance of discipline to Wells in his two campaigns with the Greyhounds (2003 and 2004).
Vaught held his players accountable. They knew where they needed to be and when. If they failed to do so, there was a price. It could involve playing time or, perhaps, extra running or conditioning.
“Kids don’t understand that being a college athlete is a full-time job,” says Wells, who found that out first-hand. “I also picked up valuable techniques and skills I try to instill in my players today.”
Finishing his history eduction degree at UIndy in 2006, Wells had an idea that he would like to be a baseball coach. He is heading into his third season as Greencastle head coach in 2019 after four campaigns as an assistant.
With about 550 students, Greencastle is the fourth-smallest 3A school in Indiana. The Tiger Cubs are in an IHSAA sectional with Brebeuf Jesuit, Danville Community, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, Indianapolis Northwest and Tri-West Hendricks.
The schedule includes some varsity/junior varsity doubleheaders.
The one-day Putnam County tournament brings Greencastle, Cloverdale, North Putnam and South Putnam together for competition. The Tigers Cubs won the event in 2018.
What about the 2019 team?
“We have a pretty talented sophomore group,” says Wells, who expects to have number of players who played varsity as freshmen in last spring. Among those are Bryce Barger, Ethan Maier, Jordan Meyer, Nick Sutherlin and Brody Whitaker.
Seniors Alex Costin, Tanner Sanders and Trey Wood are also in the mix.
The Tigers Cubs have not yet had any college baseball commitments. Wood plans to attend Taylor University in Upland, Ind., to play football. Recent graduate Tanner Nicholson is on the baseball team at Franklin (Ind.) College.
Wellls’ assistant coaches are Greencastle head boys basketball coach Bryce Rector (who is also head JV baseball coach) and boys basketball assistant Craig Whitaker.
The Tiger Cubs play on-campus on a field that was recently added new infield dirt, clay mixture around home plate and upgrades for drainage.
“There’s still a lot more we want to do,” says Wells.
A seventh grade social studies teacher at Greencastle Middle School, Wells has the opportunity to get to know future players before they get to high school.
“It’s an interesting dynamic,” says Wells. “I get a head start building relationships with those players.”
“What we’ve lacked in the past is a feeder program,” says Wells. “When I grew up, Babe Ruth was the big thing. When we got to high school, we had known each other and played together since we were young.”
Such a system would build camaraderie and Wells would know what he had coming at the high school level.
“It’s something I’m trying to build,” says Wells. “We have not been able to get it pulled off yet.”
Greencastle is coming to the end of its fall baseball workouts. A new IHSAA rule allows coaches to practice with their teams for two hours two days a week during a certain period of time. The window closes after Oct. 12 and opens against the first week of December.
“I kind of like it,” says Wells. “I puts us all on a similar playing field. We’re a smaller school and have to share a lot of our athletes. (The rule) allows us to get as many guys together at once to throw and get in their cuts. It keep us in baseball shape throughout the year.
“It also helps us not burn out students on one thing.”
Ben and Kristen Wells have been married 11 years and have three children — 5-year-old son Lincoln and 3-year-old twin daughters Britain and Brooklyn.
Greencastle (Ind.) High School won the 2018 Putnam County baseball tournament. Tiger Cubs with the hardware are (from left): assistant coach Bryce Rector, Gus Manion, assistant coach Craig Whitaker, Abe Wade, head coach Ben Wells and Jacob Harris.