BY STEVE KRAH
Caleb Vaughn became the single-season stolen base record-holder at the University of Indianapolis when he swiped his 36th bag of 2023 on April 29 at Rockburst University in Kansas City. The day before he pilfered four bases in four tries.
Vaughn surpassed the UIndy mark set by Dave Wilkerson in 1991 and earned his first Great Lakes Valley Conference Baseball Player of the Week honors.
As the NCAA Division II No. 21-ranked Greyhounds (32-17 overall, 17-15 in the GLVC) get ready for the GLVC tournament May 11-14 in Marion, Ill., Vaughn has 40 stolen bases in 42 attempts.
Funny thing is Vaughn’s previous high stolen base total — set in 2022 — was 15.
“Honestly I never thought I had it in me,” says Vaughn. “All the people around me believed in me. That’s what pushed me to learn the techniques of stealing bases like paying attention to the pitchers’ tendencies.
“I’ve trusted my abilities and just gone for it.”
UIndy head coach Al Ready lets many of his players make the call when it’s time to go.
“He trusts in his guys to make the decisions that are necessary,” says Vaughn. “The green light is on for most anybody who think they can get a jump.
“Some of the slowest guys on the team are actually the best at stealing bags. They are able to read what the pitcher is doing.
“For me it has to do with being quick and my coaches and teammates believe in me.”
The goal for 2022 was 120 team steals and the Greyhounds are now at 137.
This season, Ready has opted to interact with hitters in the dugout during offensive half innings with assistants Trevor Forde (third base) and E.J. Devarie (first base) in the coach’s boxes.
Vaughn does not wear the “oven mitt” sliding glove that has become so popular in base. Instead he switches out his batting gloves for an older pair once he reaches base.
“I’m a head-first guy,” says Vaughn. “I don’t slide feet-first ever.
“You can’t go in with your fingers first. You have to have your palm up a little so you can catch that bag and then you just go from there.”
Vaughn is a junior athletically and a senior in the classroom. He graduated May 8 as a Business Administration and Management major and Spanish minor.
“I have one more year of eligibility and that definitely will be used,” says Vaughn, who is weighing his graduate school options. “The dream is to play pro ball at some point and we’re going to try to make that happen.”
A righty throwing and swinging corner outfielder throughout his prep and college days, Vaughn has played 49 games (48 starts) in 2023 and is hitting .361 (61-of-169) with eight home runs, two triples, 11 doubles, 46 runs batted in, 50 runs scored and 37 walks (after drawing 26 in 2022). His on-base percentage is .474.
“I’ve always been a see-ball, hit-ball guy,” says Vaughn of his offensive approach. “This year I’m hitting pitches in my zones. I’ve a lot more walks than last year because I haven’t been expanding by (strike) zone.
“(Coach Ready) likes us to have a good two-strike approach. The main point of my two-strike approach is to get the bat on the ball.”
In 140 career games (135 starts), Vaughn is hitting .331 (154-of-465) with 19 homers, four triples, 21 doubles, 102 RBIs, 115 runs, 70 walks, 58 stolen bases and a .418 on-base percentage.
Vaughn came to UIndy at 6-foot and 166 pounds. He has grown and inch and packed on muscle and is now 6-1 and 185.
“At my high school the weight room was a big thing,” says Vaughn, a 2019 graduate of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. “I’ve always loved working out. I’ve always enjoyed learning the actual techniques of lifting and not just getting in there and doing just whatever.”
Richard Winzenread was Vaughn’s head coach at Lawrence North.
“Winz is a great guy,” says Vaughn. “He was really fun coach to play for. It was a great environment.
“He always believed in his guys. As you grew with him that’s when you got to know him for real.
“Another awesome guy at North is Christopher Todd. He was my JV coach. He was one of the biggest reasons I continued on and grinded as much as I did.”
Vaughn put in the work and also grew from about 5-7 to 5-11 during his sophomore summer then made the varsity as a junior starter.
Vaughn was born in Indianapolis and grew up in Lawrence Township. He played at what is now Skills Test Baseball & Softball and later travel ball with the Indiana Prospects and USAthletic.
Older sister Courtney Vaughn won a raffle and was chosen for a Spanish Immersion program beginning at Forest Glen Elementary. Family members, including Caleb and younger brother Gabriel Vaughn, were allowed to follow. He went on to Fall Creek Valley Middle School before Lawrence North.
Caleb’s mother is Lisa Kelly. Stepfather Charles Kelly has been the main male figure in his life since elementary school. His father is Cory Vaughn.
After the 2022 UIndy season, Caleb split his time between playing in the College Summer League at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., and assisting Jeremy Honaker with a 17U Canes travel team.
He also played in the CSL in 2021 and trained in 2020.
This summer, he plans to be with the Prospect League’s Chillicothe (Ohio) Paints.
“I hear it’s an unbelievable atmosphere,” says Vaughn. “The whole community comes out.”
But first there is Greyhounds business.
“We have a chance to be in the regional this year,” says Vaughn. I have to give the glory to God. God has been a big part of my journey. He’s been my strength through the whole process. I only play for Him.
“It’s a blessing for me to be out there.”