Michael Earley has a knack for developing elite hitters. Spencer Torkelson was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft out of Arizona State University. His hitting coach was 2006 Anderson (Ind.) High School graduate Earley. “Texas A&M hired a rising star in the coaching ranks with the addition of Mike Earley,” said former ASU coach Tracy Smith (who led the Indiana University program before his time with the Sun Devils) on the Aggies baseball website. “He is the best I’ve seen in my career at developing hitters. However, Coach Earley’s ability to build rapport by balancing toughness and genuine care for the players is what really makes him special. The Aggies are getting a good one.” Earley, 33, played one season for Brian Cleary at the University of Cincinnati, three for Smith at Indiana and spent five in the Chicago White Sox system and one in independent ball. He coached in the Pac-12 Conference at Arizona State for five seasons — the last four as hitting coach — and was hired in mid-June of 2021 to mold hitters for Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference. “I could’ve stayed at Arizona State, but I wanted to explore and see what else was out there,” says Earley, who attended the 2022 American Baseball Coaches Association Convention in Chicago. “I talked to a few schools and ended up at Texas A&M. I could not be happier. It’s been a really, really fun time and a great experience. “Head coach Jim Schlossnagle was a big draw for me. I think he’s the sharpest guy in the game and he’s someone I want to learn from and work for.” Earley hit the recruiting trail right after joining the Aggies staff. Recruiting coordinator Nolan Cain directed hitters his way. “He’s really, really good at finding talent and how to communicate,” says Earley of Cain. “I try to help him as much as I can.” Coming to College Station and the Brazos Valley with his own ideas on hitting, Earley has also incorporated offensive ideas from Schlossnagle. “It’s evolving every year,” says Earley. “I don’t think I’ve ever been quite the same every year though its the same base and foundation. “I mean it’s (NCAA) Division I baseball. The SEC is a step up from the Pac-12, but there’s a lot of good teams and players in the Pac-12 as well. It’s not going to be anything too much different. It’s really a lot of hard work.” Earley enjoyed his time with Torkelson, a right-hitting third baseman in the Detroit Tigers organization. “He’s by far the best hitter I’ve work with to date,” says Earley. “If I ever work with one that again it will be like hitting the baseball lottery. “He’s a generational talent for me. What separates him is not only is he just really, really good, he’s more competitive than anyone I’ve ever been around. He’s a Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant type. I’m gonna beat you and you’re not gonna beat me.” The year before Torkelson went was the top pick in the draft, lefty-hitting outfielder Hunter Bishop was taken out of ASU with the 10th overall pick by the San Francisco Giants. Arizona State has elite baseball facilities and so does Texas A&M, which plays in Blue Bell Park. Renovations are on the way for a stadium built in 2012. “The SEC has become an arms race,” says Earley, who says new seating is coming along with a fresh hitting facility and weight room. “This place is already really, really nice. “I don’t know how we’re going to upgrade it but we are and it’s going to be bigger and better. And then — I’m sure — in another 15 years we’ll probably do it all over again.” Besides Schlossnagle, associate head coach Nate Yeskie, Cain and Earley as coaches, there’s a support that with a director of baseball operations (Jason Hutchins), director of player and program development (Chuck Box), sports performance coach (Jerry McMillan) and director of video and analytics (Will Fox). Earley says analytics are very helpful when used the right way. “You don’t want paralysis by analysis,” says Earley. “You find what works for you. There’s definitely a benefit in the game for analytics, but there’s an old word called competing and that can’t get lost.” Nolan Earley, Michael’s brother, is a 2009 Anderson High graduate who played three years at the University of Southern Alabama and in the White Sox organization and independent ball (He played 96 games for the Frontier League Southern Illinois Miners in 2021). He is in Arizona running the Phoenix Hit Dogs. “It’s a development-first travel program,” says Michael Early of the organization started in 2020. “Everyone says they are, but they’re actually not. They’re just trying to win and get the trophies. We’re actually trying the develop and I think it’s a success.”
Garrett Schoenle was a very good passer during his football days at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Northrop High School. On the strength of Schoenle’s left arm, head coach Jason Doerffler had his Bruins go to the air often. “We spread it out and threw 40 passes a game,” says Schoenle. “I was baseball player who could throw it and we tried to use that to our advantage.” When the 2017 Northrop graduate left the program he was the all-time leader in passing yards and completions. Heading into his junior baseball season, Schoenle had gotten no offers for the diamond. But some bigger schools were interested in him for the gridiron. Schoenle, who also played two years of high school basketball, really began attracting college baseball teams in the spring of 2016 when he was the News-Sentinel Player of the Year and on the American Family Insurance/All-Indiana Team. He helped Northrop go 20-5 overall and 14-0 in the Summit Athletic Conference while winning the IHSAA Class 4A Fort Wayne Carroll Sectional. Southpaw Schoenle was the 2017 Gatorade Indiana High School Baseball Player of the Year and an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North-South All-Star. The Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 30th round of the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, but Schoenle was offered the chance to pitch at the University of Cincinnati by then-Bearcats head coach Ty Neal and went the college route. By the time the hurler arrived on-campus Scott Googins had taken over as UC head coach with J.D. Heilman as pitching coach. “They gave me a platform to showcase my skills at the Division I level,” says Schoenle of Googins and Heilman. In four seasons (2018-21), Schoenle made 37 mound appearances (30 starts) and went 11-5 with two saves and 5.13 earned run average. In 152 2/3 innings, he produced 174 strikeouts and 98 walks. Making 15 starts in 2021, Schoenle posted a 6-3 mark with one complete game and a 4.18 ERA. He fanned 89 and walked 24 in 75 1/3 innings. He at the front of the weekend rotation as a senior. “I tried to step up and be a leader,” says Schoenle, who was American Athletic Conference member Cincinnati’s “Sunday” starter as a sophomore in the pre-COVID-19 season of 2019. As a freshman in 2018, Schoenle learned in January that he had a torn labrum. Wanting to avoid surgery at all costs, he rehabbed, got stronger and made his collegiate debut in April. In the summer of 2019, Schoenele was with the New England Collegiate Baseball League’s Vermont Mountaineers (Montpelier, Vt.). He used the summer of 2020 to make himself better and to fine-tune. After the 2021 spring season, Schoenle played for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, Ohio) in the new MLB Draft League. He signed this week with the Chicago White Sox as an undrafted free agent. “They way I perceived it (the MLB Draft League) had the same talent as Cape Cod, but with older draft-eligible guys,” says Schoenle, 23. “I came out of the pen and got a few starts before the draft and came home (to Fort Wayne) after that,” About 45 minutes after the draft concluded on July 13, White Sox area scout Phil Gulley called. Was Schoenle interested in going with Chicago’s American League team? “Of course,” says Schoenle, who is now at a mini-camp for draftees and signees in Birmingham, Ala. After that some will be sent to Glendale, Ariz., and assigned to a minor league affiliate and others will be kept in camp. The top four farm clubs in the White Sox system are the Low Class-A Kannapolis (N.C.) Cannon Ballers, High Class-A Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash, Double-A Birmingham Barons and Triple-A Charlotte (N.C.) Knights. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Schoenle throws five pitches from a three-quarter overhand arm slot — four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, curveball, change-up and splitter. His four-seamer sits at 91 to 94 mph and was up to 96 in the spring. He describes the action of curveball to be somewhere between a curve and a slider. Schoenle tosses a “circle” change and the splitter — which drops — was added to his repertoire this past season. Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Schoenle played his first organized baseball at New Haven Baseball Association from age 4 to 12. His 12U to 14U seasons were spent with the traveling New Haven Bulldogs and his father — Jeff — was the coach. Jeff Schoenle was a shortstop while at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne. Garrett competed in the Midwest Big League at Saint Joe Little League from 15 to 18, even playing a few times as a lefty-throwing shortstop. “Being left-handed, that’s opened a lot of doors for me in my career,” says Schoenle, who throws and hits from the left side but punted a football with his right toe. “I’m also an ultra-competitor and that helped me to where I am.” As a teen, Schoenle went to morning football workouts and 7-on-7 camps and also honed his baseball skills. “I spent my time during the summer trying to be the best athlete I could,” says Schoenle. As a Northrop baseball player, Schoenle played for Bruins head coach Matt Brumbaugh and pitching coach Dan O’Reilly. “Brum is one of the most influential people in my baseball career,” says Schoenle. “There’s a lot of people to thank in my journey and he’s definitely one of them.” O’Reilly pitched at Iowa State University and then in pro ball. “Having some people who had been there is big when you have those dreams yourself,” says Schoenle. With an interest in education and coaching, Schoenle pursued a History degree at Cincinnati and graduated last semester. “I always want to get into teaching,” says Schoenle. “My dad’s a teacher (of Social Studies at Fort Wayne’s Jefferson Middle School). “I want to have an opportunity to teach and coach and spread my knowledge to youth one day.” Garrett is the oldest of Jeff and Parkview Mental Health counselor Kim Schoenle’s four children. Gavin Schoenle (21) is a student at Indiana University. He was on many of the same teams as Garrett and played one football season at Ohio Dominican University. Gradyn Schoenle (17) plays football and baseball and is heading into his junior year at Northrop. Gabbey Schoenle (13) runs cross country. She is going into the eighth grade Jefferson Middle School.
Duncan Hewitt has always played baseball with emotion. As the Indianapolis native has matured he has learned how to harness that passion and make it work for him. Hewitt, a 2016 graduate of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, credits Wildcats head coach Richard Winzenread for helping him channel his emotion on the diamond. “I learned how to control my competitive edge playing for him,” says Hewitt. “I’m an emotional guy. He taught me how to embrace (my emotions). “Don’t run from it. Find a way to turn that into something positive.” Hewitt continued to do that at Butler University in Indianapolis. He played for the Bulldogs 2017-21, taking a medical redshirt year when he tore his meniscus 15 games into the 2019 season. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he still has a year of eligibility. “I’m certainly more level-headed and more calm, cool and collected than I have been at any time in my career,” says Hewitt, a team captain the past two seasons after having that unofficial designation at the end of his prep days. Playing for Butler head coach Dave Schrage, Hewitt has appeared in 123 games (96 starts) with 675 putouts, 58 assists and just four errors and a .995 fielding percentage. Though he played in just 15 games, Hewitt’s best offensive season was 2019 when the righty swinger hit .333 (15-of-45) with two home runs, 18 runs batted in and a .967 (. 434 on-base percentage plus .533 slugging average). “It’s been a lot of fun,” says Hewitt of the Butler experience and playing for Schrage. “I got very, very lucky. “He’s been around the game so long. I know he’s always got my back. I know he cares for me and my teammates very deeply.” The connection between Hewitt and Winzenread continues as they still talk on a weekly basis and enjoys getting together with the coach and former LN teammate Nolan Watson (who pitches in the Kansas City Royals system) to talk baseball. Hewitt, who turned 23 on May 17, is with the Coco Crisp-managed Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Niles, Ohio) of the new MLB Draft League this summer. He and his teammates were going to travel to Pittsburgh to work out for the Pirates at PNC Park today (June 7) and then play a three-game series at the West Virginia Black Bears and three-game set at the Frederick (Md.) Keys. “It’s a really, really cool idea,” says Hewitt of the MLB Draft League, an exposure circuit that sprung up out of the overhauling of Minor League and college summer league baseball with the MLB First-Year Player Draft being pared down and moved to July (the 20-round 2021 MLB Draft is scheduled for July 11-13). “I’m surprised its taking this long for something like this to come to fruition. “It’s really giving guys a chance to come out and play and get a couple of last looks (for professional teams) and I’m finding it’s more for guys who haven’t gotten any looks at all. They’re proving they can play with anybody in the country. It’s cool to some of these come out with a chip on their shoulder and show what they can do.” The MLB Draft League gives players a taste of pro baseball. They learn what it’s like to play everyday with most games beginning at 7 p.m. They see what its like to prepare for that and get the proper rest so they can perform at their best. A typical day at the park is 1 to 10 p.m. “There are nuance things you can only gain through experience,” says Hewitt. Three other Indiana players — Sam Crail (Sheridan High School and Saint Leo University), Hayden Jones (Fort Wayne Carroll High School and Illinois State University) and Garrett Schoenle (Fort Wayne Northrop High School and University of Cincinnati) — are on the Mahoning Valley roster and there are others in the league. What Hewitt appreciates most about summer baseball is the blending of players. “We’re coming from extremely different lifestyles,” says Hewitt. “But we’re all chasing the exact same thing.” As a catcher, Hewitt has come to see the game like a coach or manager. “(Catcher) is a position that takes good leadership and understanding personalities — when to chew someone out and when to put a hand on someone’s shoulder,” says Hewitt. “It’s a big, big reason I pride myself on making decisions in moments like that.” Growing up in Lawrence Township, Hewitt got his first taste of league baseball through Oaklandon Youth Organization. He began playing for various travel teams around 9 including the Indiana Bulls in high school. “I think I did it right,” says Hewitt. “My dad (Mike Hewitt) kept me away from the daddy ball experience and the crazy parents. “I wore a lot of jerseys, but I always say I played for the Bulls.” Dan Held was Hewitt’s coach with that travel organization. “He was the first coach I had that was a professional himself,” says Hewitt of Held, who played at the Triple-A level in the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets organizations and is now an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Indiana University. “To be on his team you had to be at a certain skill level and invited to play,” says Hewitt. “He introduced me to professionalism on the field. “It was the way you carried yourself and how you went about your business.” Duncan’s mother is Heather Hewitt and his sister is Presley Hewitt (18). The Lawrence North graduae is heading to the University of Cincinnati as a sophomore after starting at Ball State University.
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association members have voted and selected 16 district players of the year for 2021.
All-State and Indiana Player of the Year voting begins June 6.
The IHSAA state tournament series begins with sectionals May 26-31, followed by regionals June 5, semistates June 12 and the State Finals June 21-22. The IHSBCA Futures Games and North/South All-Star Series is slated for June 23-27 in Evansville.
Here’s a look at the 16 seniors chosen at Players of the Year in Districts A through P:
Says Swartzentruber: “Carter has been with us for two years following his transfer from Illiana Christian … Great kid, great student and great leader on our young team. One of my favorite players I have coached during my 24 years. … He has been a dominant player this year for us both on the mound and at the plate. There is not a doubt in my mind that he will do great things at Purdue and beyond. Great work ethic and very competitive young man.”
Lake Central is in the Class 4A Merrillville Sectional.
Says Evans: “He’s been a great pitcher for us, probably one of the more dominant pitchers in the (Duneland Athletic Conference). He’s a leader on and off the field. He also plays football and basketball. He’s a hard-working kid.”
Valparaiso is in the Class 4A Chesterton Sectional.
Says Smolinski: “Kyle has been blessed with an amazing ability to excel in both athletics and academics. Along with Kyle’s great leadership skills, he’s an outstanding teammate who respects his coaches, teachers and family. He’s hard-working, motivated and driven in everything that he does. I’m so proud of Kyle and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach him. I look forward to seeing him succeed on and off the field in the future … Kyle is the type of player where you wish you had nine of him on the field. He does everything you ask. He makes his teammates better.”
St. Joseph is in the Class 3A South Bend Clay Sectional.
Says Byall: “He has been a phenomenal player for us for four years. He is extremely talented, but has also worked extremely hard to transform his body and skills to an elite level … He is phenomenal to coach because you know he’s going to work hard and go about his business the right way every single day. He has been phenomenal for us this year, performing at such a high level, and by working hard everyday. He has a really bright future.”
Homestead is in the Class 4A Huntington North Sectional.
E — Jacob Loftus (Peru). A righty-swinging catcher for Tigers coach Chuck Brimbury, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Loftus has not yet made his college commitment. He plans to major in Secondary Math Education.
Say Brimbury: “Jacob is the best high school player I have coached at Peru High School in my two-plus decades. Hard worker, captain, tough, talented, and a model of ‘team first’ guy. We have have had two drafts, dozens of college players and several D-1 players from our program. Jacob ‘Yogi’ Loftus is our best to play here.”
Says King: “Hunter is a very talented player — one of the best I’ve had. Hunter is probably the best all-around hitter I’ve ever had. He’s definitely a five-tool player. He has the ability to play not only at the collegiate level but the professional level … He’s a good leader (for the program’s first outright Hoosier Heritage Conference championship). He talks hitting and situations all the time with our guys.”
Mount Vernon is in the Class 4A Pendleton Heights Sectional.
Says Marker: “I don’t think there’s another player in the state of Indiana that means more to his team than Luke means to ours. He strikes out between 15 and 21 guys (per game) … He’s had 11 strikeouts in four innings (a couple of times) … At the 1A level he strikes fear into the hearts of hitters … He’s got six pitches. He’ll have to whittle that down at the next level.”
Seton Catholic is in the Class 1A Seton Catholic Sectional.
Says Doty: “Kameron is the kind of player every coach hopes they will have the opportunity to coach — hard-working, dedicated, coachable, but most importantly a leader! Add it in the athletic ability and that describes Kameron Salazar. He has the ability to hit any pitch in any count to all fields. He is one of the best pure hitters I have had the opportunity to coach … His quick hands aid him both on the offensive and defensive side of the game. He will use all fields offensively and has significant range in the middle of the infield … All of those abilities — as great as they are — of course don’t come even close to describing his character! He is one of the nicest young men you would ever meet and terrific teammate! He has been (would have been) a four-year starter for us at shortstop if not for COVID. He has been the heart and soul of our program for the past four years and he will be great missed as he moves on to Marian next year. It’s truly been an honor to have the opportunity to coach him these past four years.”
Says Koeppen: “He’s by far one of the most enjoyable kids I’ve ever coached. He works as hard as anybody at practice. He does things the right way all the time … It’s been fun to sit back and watch him play this year.”
Lafayette Jeff is in the Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional.
Says Cosgray: “Garrett is just a very well-rounded player. He’s an exceptional right-handed pitcher, topping out at 95 mph with good command of his curveball, slider and change-up … Defensively at shortstop, he’s very sound. He makes the routine play but also has the ability to make the spectacular play when necessary … He hits in the 3-hole for us. He can hit for power. He’s a gap-to-gap approach hitter, hitting over .500. It’s hard to find a more well-rounded player than him.”
Lebanon is in the Class 3A North Montgomery Sectional.
Says Freje: “He’s been a lead-off hitter and the top arm we go to … Chris is comfortable (as a sidearmer). He’s taken that role and run with it … He’s been incredibly impactful on the bases. He’s a gamer. He’s embraced all the roles he’s been given. He’s been a pleasure to coach.”
Says Jones: “He throws 92 mph-plus and he mixes his pitches real well. He gets a lot of strikeouts. He’s able to throw the ball up, throw the ball down and hit the corners … He hits well. He’s well over 400. He’s just a consistent guy.”
Edgewood is in the Class 3A Owen Valley Sectional.
Says Decker: “He’s had a really good senior year. He’s been good on the mound and at the plate for us. He probably could have gone some places to be a two-way (having played all over the field). He’s one of the better athletes I’ve got to coach … Stuff comes really easy to him.”
Silver Creek is in the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional.
Says Mattingly: “He’s one of those kids who’s humble, hard-working and he competes. He want to be the best and he goes about his business to be the best … I’ve been around him a long time and he’s just a good kid.”
Southridge is in the Class 3A Southridge Sectional.
Says Goedde: “He’s been our most-consistent player all year. He’s in the middle of a good season. He’s had minimal slumps …. He’s versatile enough that he can play just about anywhere. Henry moves very well. He’s got a good, athletic body.”
Evansville Central is in the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Sectional.
IHSBCA 2021 District Players of the Year (School/Head Coach)
Nearly a decade after guiding a high school baseball program, Dan Thurston is back in that role.
Hired as School Resource Officer at Southwestern High School in Hanover, Ind., in January 2020, he became Rebels head baseball coach around mid-year.
Thurston was head coach at nearby Madison (Ind.) Consolidated High School 2009-11 while also serving as D.A.R.E officer in the junior high. He resigned as baseball coach when he became chief of the City of Madison Police Department.
Meanwhile, he headed up Long Toss Indiana LLC and the Indiana Rawlings Tigers LLC, helping players with arm care and Mental Toughness Training.
A few years ago, Thurston sold the businesses as a package. He was invited by head coach Grant Bellak to join the Hanover College coaching staff and had spent 2019 and 2020 with the Panthers when the opportunities came along at Southwestern.
“One thing I really enjoyed about Hanover was the personal interaction with players,” says Thurston, who played tennis, basketball and baseball at Mooresville (Ind.) High School and baseball at Hanove. “They knew where they were in life and where they were going to go. They were thankful to play more baseball. But it’s probably not going to be their profession after college.
“I learned so much in the last two years about how to run a program and how to run a practice. I think I’ll be a much better coach than I was before.”
As SRO, Thurston estimates that he spends more than half his time on relationships with the rest split between counseling and his law enforcement duties.
Until becoming coach, he got to know students as people and not as athletes.
Thurston took the coaching job in time to lead a few summer workouts in June and then guided IHSAA Limited Contact Period activities in the fall.
“It was intrasquad games, (batting practice), infield drills and arm care. We did long toss to stretch arms out,” says Thurston. “Looking back on it, it more about me getting to the know the kids and the program and them getting to know me and my style.
“My style has evolved over the years. At Madison — to a fault — I was a little bit of a control freak. Now I have really good assistants and I expect them to coach.”
Leach played at Madison Consolidated and Indiana University Southeast. Crank, who is dean of students and junior varsity boys basketball coach at Southwestern, played at Franklin (Ind.) College an was a JV coach for Thurston at Madison. Pitching coach Bump took the mound for Marshall University (Huntington, W.Va.) and was on Shayne Stock’s Hanover coaching staff.
Winter conditioning began at Southwestern last week. Thurston expects around 22 players for varsity and junior varsity teams in the spring.
ORVC teams play each other twice on a home-and-home basis.
Though it may not happen in 2021, Thurston says he would like those games to come in the same week.
“That avoids team having one really good pitcher to space out their conference games and pitch the same kid in every game,” says Thurston. “You get more of a true team conference champion.”
Super ATV Field, located on the Southwestern campus, has a turfed home plate area. A new scoreboard — never used with the cancellation of the 2020 season — is expected to be in-place for the Rebels’ first home game of 2021.
Thurston says there’s talk of lighting the field and expanding the dugouts.
“Of course that comes down to that almighty dollar,” says Thurston.
The Rebels are part of an IHSAA Class 2A sectional grouping with Milan, North Decatur, South Decatur, South Ripley and Switzerland County. Southwestern’s lone sectional title came in 1999.
The Madison Cubs are on the Rebels’ schedule. Southwestern has never beaten Madison in varsity baseball. When the Rebels won the Class 2A Jeffersonville Regional in 1999, the Cubs and Indiana Mr. Baseball Bryan Bullington won the 3A state championship.
“I’m going to be low key,” says Thurston of this spring’s Southwestern-Madison meeting. “I’m going to treat it just like any other game.
“There’s no pressure for us to win.”
Thurston is also a regional scout for SportsForce Baseball — a recruiting service that helps players find the best fit at the college level.
Last summer, he was able to help athletes while serving as a tournament director for Pastime Tournaments.
“I often tell players to take baseball out of the equation,” says Thurston. “Is it the right fit academically, financially and socially? Is it the right distance from home and the right size of school?
“Check all the other boxes first. If baseball is important to you, let’s go somewhere we can play. Some are OK with being the program guy.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic has come extra years of eligibility for college players. Thurston says his gut tells him that it may be until 2023 before the trickle-down effect that hits younger college players — and even high schoolers — settles down.
There has traditionally been youth baseball run by the Hanover parks department. Southwestern schedules up to 20 games in the spring for its junior team of seventh and eighth graders.
Recent Southwestern graduate Bailey Elliott is on the baseball roster at Vincennes (Ind.) University. Thurston says he expects the Rebels to produce more college players in the next few years.
Dan and wife Jackie Thurston will be married 32 years in March. The couple has three children — Trey (29), Ryan (26) and Trisha (22).
Trey Thurston is in veterinary school at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn.
Left-handed pitcher Ryan Thurston played at Madison Consolidated and Western Kentucky University and in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He was with the independent Chicago Dogs and Gary SouthShore RailCats in 2019 and is expected to be back with that club in 2021. Gary did not field a team in 2020 and Thurston went with the indy Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks and Winnipeg Goldeyes.
University of Cincinnati graduate Trisha Thurston works for Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati.
Ben Davis: Jose Guzman — Pitcher, University of Cincinnati; Kameron Kelly — First Base, Undecided.
Brebeuf Jesuit: Shane Bauer — Pitcher/First Base, Dartmouth College; Karl Meyer — Right Field, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Andrew Pickett — Shortstop, Hope College; Gabe Wright — Center Field, Undecided.
Decatur Central: Timmy Casteel — Third Base, Undecided; Brayden Hazelwood — Shortstop, Indiana University Southeast; Jared Thompson — Pitcher/Center Field, Undecided.
Franklin Central: Austin Carr — Second Base, Grace College; Matt Hall — Pitcher, Ashland University; Corey Jeanor — Shortstop, Ashland University; Austin Snider — Outfield, Manchester University.
Indianapolis North Central: Carter Bailey — Infielder, Undecided; Zach Gessner — Infielder/Pitcher, Undecided; Brendon Gibson — Outfielder, Indiana University Southeast; Joseph Rangel — First Base/Designated Hitter, Undecided.
Lawrence Central: Anthony Steinhardt — Center Field/Pitcher, University of Dayton.
Lawrence North: Ethan Butterfield — Pitcher, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Marcus Goodpaster — First Base/Pitcher, Undecided; Ty Johnson — Pitcher, Ball State University; Nick Taylor — Left Field/Pitcher, Purdue University.
Park Tudor: Ian Krull — First/Third Base, St. John’s University; Ben Rankin — Pitcher/Right Field, Purdue University.
Perry Meridian: Bayley Arnold — Pitcher, Earlham College; Isaac Jones — Second Base, Undecided; Luciano Salemi — Centerfield, Lake Erie College; Conner Woods — Catcher, North Park University.
Pike: Cameron Powell — First Base, Earlham College; Reggie Thornton — Center Field, Indiana State University.
Roncalli: Will Schoettle — Pitcher, Undecided; Alex Stroud — First Base, Asbury University.
Southport: Kyven Carter — Pitcher, First base, Undecided; Ryan Lezon — Pitcher/Shortstop, Ball State University.
Warren Central: Justin Alexander — Pitcher/Designated Hitter/Outfield, Seminole State College (Fla.); Cameron Booker — Pitcher, Muskegon Community College; Christian W. Jones — Pitcher/First/Third Base, Indiana Tech.
“We will play small ball and try to hit the ball gap-to-gap,” says Brumbaugh. “We run the bases. We hit-and-run. At the higher levels you hardly see it at all. We probably use it more than most teams.”
Brumbaugh will take a hitter that may be struggling at the plate and ask them to hit-and-run.
“They can go up there thinking about nothing but putting the bat on the ball,” says Brumbaugh.
A 1985 Northrop graduate who played for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chris Stavreti, Brumbaugh was the starting second baseman and lead-off hitter on the Bruins’ 1983 state championship team. He was first-team all-Summit Athletic Conference, first-team all-area and second-team all-state in 1984. He is among Northrop’s leaders in career (104) and single-season (46 in 1984) for base on balls.
“It was a great opportunity for me to play for a coach who really stressed fundamentals,” says Brumbaugh of Stavreti. “He was a fiery guy who wanted to get the best out of every player he coached.”
Brumbaugh appreciates that Stavreti allowed him to immerse himself in every aspect of coaching as a Bruins assistant.
“He helped me to develop my overall skills as a coach,” says Brumbaugh, who sports a career record is 160-79 with four SAC titles.
In 2016, Northrop earned a sectional championship and Brumbaugh was IHSBCA Regional Coach of the Year.
Northrop has played on its current field since 1982. Since 1999, it’s been known as Stavreti Field. A project was recently completed on Stravreti Clubhouse, a structure with concession stand, rest rooms and coaches office on the first floor and a 37-stall locker room and press box on the second level.=
The field does not have lights. The diamond is sometimes in the flight path of planes flying in or out of nearby Fort Wayne International Airport.
One of Brumbaugh’s Northrop teammates was Eric Wedge, who went on to play and manage in the majors and is now head coach at Wichita State University.
“When he was a player, he was such a hard-nosed, goal-driven person,” saysBrumbaugh. “He was a freshmen playing at the varsity level and had goals and ambitions beyond high school baseball.
“I’m really happy for him he’s back in the game at Wichita State, where he won a College World Series. It’s going to be a challenge. But he’s the kind of guy who can rise to challenge. You could see that coming from a young age.”
Brumbaugh and Wedge has stayed in-contact over the years and he has been known to visit Northrop players when he’s in Fort Wayne.
A 1990 graduate of Huntington (Ind.) College, Brumbaugh was a first-team all-Mid-Central Conference shortstop 1987-89 and first-team all-NAIA district shortstop in 1988 and 1989, playing for IHSBCA Hall of Famer Mike Frame.
After college, Brumbaugh played for Crumback-Symons, a five-time Indiana state champion in Stan Musial baseball. The 1996 team placed third at the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series.
Brumbaugh was a Northrop assistant coach 1990-97. The 1997 Bruins were a Final Four team in the final year of single-class baseball in Indiana.
From 1998-2005, Brumbaugh was an assistant to Lance Hershberger at Indiana Tech. He was the three-time acting head coach at the NAIA World Series. The Warriors won the NAIA World Series in 1998.
Brumbaugh was Hershberger’s assistants at Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran High School 2007-10.
“He’s one of the best teachers of the game. He’s a stickler for details,” says Brumbaugh of Hershberger, who started the baseball program at Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne. “He’s a master of all aspects of the game. He’s a tremendous coach. You can’t learn enough from him.
“He’s intense, but he gets his point across.”
Brumbaugh leads a Northrop coaching staff that features Gary Gatchell (who works with hitters), former big leaguer Dustan Mohr (outfielders, base runners and hitters), Jeremy Downs (infielders), Chad Kohli pitchers), Ben Kline (infielders) and Caleb Wynn (catchers) at the varsity level. Mason Neuman is the head junior varsity coach and is assisted by Trevor Snyder and Northrop graduate David Keating.
It’s a big staff, especially considering that Northrop usually has 25 to 30 players for its two squads.
“Only two are paid and the rest are volunteers,” says Brumbaugh. “They love the game and they love the program.”
Most are home-and-home series in the same week or doubleheaders with the teams trading last at-bats. One of the Northrop-Snider games is slated as part of the Parkview Sports Medicine Series at Parkview Field on April 21.
The Bruins are part of an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Carroll, DeKalb, East Noble and Snider. Northrop has won 15 sectional titles — the last in 2016. Besides being state champions in 1983, the Bruins were state runners-up in 1981.
Over the years, St. Joe Little League and Wallen Baseball, which serve players up to age 14, have been a feeder system for Northrop though more and more players are going the travel baseball route.
Matt and Karen Brumbaugh have been married for 22 years and have two daughters at Indiana University – Jensen (20) and Kendall (18).
Matt Brumbaugh, a 1985 Fort Wayne (Ind.) Northrop High School graduate, enters his ninth season as the Bruins head baseball coach in 2020.
In Earley’s first season with ASU hitters in 2018, Torkelson slugged a nation-leading 25 homers (the first frosh ever to lead the country in circuit clouts). Aldrete and Lin both raised their averages from the previous season by 20 points and were named to the all-Pac-12 team.
With Earley’s help on offense and defense, outfielder Gage Canning (.369-9-45) had a strong junior season and was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and signed with the Washington Nationals.
Earley, who turned 31 on March 15, helps players get into a productive rhythm.
“We create a routine and stick to that routine when things are going good or when things are going bad,” says Earley. “I know how important that is and to not get caught up in failure or success.
“With the elite guys, I become a psychologist and a mental coach more than a physical coach. I want to keep them even-keeled at all times.”
It’s not a cookie-cutter approach.
“Every guy’s different,” says Earley. “They can be similar hitters, but have opposite personalities.
“You need to connect with them so you know what makes them tick or go.”
Earley (@earleybaseball on Twitter and earleyhitcoach on Instagram) does this by making himself available.
“It’s about putting in the time and always being available for them,” says Earley. “Your work shows them you care. You never turn them down.
“We’ve built a culture of guys hitting all the time. They do it on their own and between classes. Guys are just working. We’ve got some guys who are obsessed with their craft.”
Spending so much time with his players builds a sense of trust.
“If they trust you, that’s the key to having a good relationship as hitting coach and hitter and having success,” says Earley.
After the 2018-19 Christmas break, Sun Devil hitters moved into the $5 million Malone complex, a place where they put in cage work before hitting outdoors.
“It’s the nicest batting facility I’ve ever seen,” says Earley.
Hitters will see pitches off a velocity and breaking ball machines.
“We usually do it every other day,” says Earley. “On a comfortable day, we’ll do regular BP and front toss. On a discomfort day, we’ll take gameday, high-heart rate swings.”
During preseason, Smith raised the competition level by sending his top four hitters against his top two pitchers for three or four innings of intense scrimmage.
ASU has built a culture of competition. It calms down a little during the season. But in the fall and preseason, Earley says it’s tough to beat.
“We have alpha-type athletes competing over and over again,” says Earley. “We have a smaller roster and we’re getting creative and writing things down and it just came to him.
“We had a lot of stressful innings for our pitchers and high-intensity at-bats for our hitters. It was huge for us coming into the year.”
Arizona State, which plays its home games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, got out of the gate in 2019 at 21-0 and are currently 27-7 overall and 10-5 in the Pac-12.
“We’re big on opposing scouting,” says Earley. “Our guys are really prepared. They’ve seen (opposing pitchers) before on video.
“Some of the analytics things we keep in-house. It does pay a big part in what we do every day.”
“I love Coach Turner,” says Earley. “He was mentor figure. He was the first coach that believed in me and helped push me.
“I’m a huge Daleville fan now.”
Turner has coached Daleville (Ind.) High School to IHSAA Class 1A state titles in 2016 and 2018.
Earley calls former Cincinnati coaches Cleary and assistant Brad Meador “great people.” He was just looking for a different experience and a chance to play at IU.
“He never let you let down,” says Earley of playing for Smith. “You always had to compete. He always expected the best out of you. It helped me get to the next level and be the best player you could be.
“It helped me translate into a better player and a better coach.”
In one season with the Bearcats (2007) and three with the Hoosiers (2008-10), righty swinger Smith hit .327 with 23 home runs and 87 RBI’s. In 2010, he was a third-team all-Big Ten selection after hitting .352-13-40 with 15 stolen bases. Mostly an outfielder, he played at least one inning at every position on the field except pitcher.
He was drafted in the 29th round by the Chicago White Sox, signed by scout Mike Shirley and ascending to Triple-A Charlotte in 2013. He played professional baseball through 2015, the last year with the independent Southern Illinois Miners. He was an associate scout with the New York Mets in 2016.
Nolan Earley, a freshman center fielder and lead-off hitter at Anderson when big brother Michael was a senior shortstop and No. 3 hitter (Nolan was the starting QB and Michael a wideout in football). Nolan later played at the University of South Alabama and in the White Sox organization and with the Southern Illinois Miners.
Michael and Lisa Earley were married in 2015. The couple have three children — Marshall (5), Mia (3) and Maddie (1). They were living in Anderson before getting the call to Arizona.
Her husband says Lisa was not hesitant to make the move.
“She was with me in the minor leagues,” says Michael Earley. “She’s a baseball wife. This is her lifestyle.”
Michael Earley, a graduate of Anderson (Ind.) High School who played at Indiana University and in professional baseball, is in his second season as hitting and outfielder coach at Arizona State University. Former IU head coach Tracy Smith is head coach of the Sun Devils. (Arizona State University Photo)
“I rode the coattails of those guys on the 1989 state championship team,” says Collins, referring to Tigers diamond stars like Pat Schulz who went on to play at the University of Evansville and in the Cleveland Indians organization.
Merkel racked up 941 victories, three IHSAA state championships (1978, 1989 and 1993), three state runner-up finishes (1970, 1979 and 2005) and 26 sectional titles in his 45 years at Memorial head coach.
The 1978 and 1979 squads were led by Don Mattingly, who went on to play for the New York Yankees, be inducted into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame and manage the Los Angeles Dodgers and Miami Marlins.
Collins, who started his teaching career at Holy Rosary School then moved to Memorial (the Western Kentucky University graduate leads classes for physical education and driver’s education) and has coached football, basketball and baseball at Memorial over the course of more than 20 years, was a Merkel assistant in 2013 and took over the program the next season.
“He’s a man I’ve looked up to,” says Collins of Merkel. “I’ve instilled a lot of things he did, like his work ethic and overall approach to the game.
“We bought into it. That’s what we’ve tried to do on our staff.”
Collins’ assistants are Chris Schaefer (pitching coach) and Dan Durchholz with the varsity on gameday, Aaron Schmitt and Ethan Sauls with the junior varsity and Eric Chamberlain and Sam Mattingly with the freshmen.
It’s about consistency for Collins and his staff.
“Baseball hasn’t changed very much,” says Collins. “We try to keep it simple.
“We have a daily routine. Our drills might be monotonous, but we think it’s important.”
This repetition has helped the Tigers.
“You’re not surprised when good things happen,” says Collins. “Mentally, we can get through the tough times.”
With the IHSAA allowing courtesy runners for pitchers and catchers the past two years, there have been more playing opportunities for reserve players.
Collins asks his athletes to embrace their chance to contribute.
“Define your role and relish in that role regardless of what it is,” says Collins.
Memorial generally has about 40 players for its three teams, which keeps the Tigers hopping since their home diamond, Stone Field, does not have lights.
The facility, located behind Holy Rosary on South Green River Road, now sports new higher bleachers on the home and visiting sides.
A 7-1 loss to eventual state runner-up Silver Creek in the Bosse Regional championship ended the Tigers’ season.
Senior Isaac Housman is committed to play baseball at the University of Southern Indiana. Branson Combs (Southern Illinois University) and Michael Lindauer (University of Cincinnati) are bound for collegiate football.
Memorial (enrollment around 610) is a member of the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (with Castle, Evansville Bosse, Evansville Central, Evansville Harrison, Evansville Mater Dei, Evansville North and Evansville Reitz).
SIAC schools play each other twice in a same-week home-and-home series to determine the conference champion.
The Tigers are part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Boonville, Bosse, Heritage Hills and Mount Vernon. Memorial has won 28 sectional titles — two with Collins as head coach (2016 and 2018).
A Cub baseball team for seventh and eighth graders who have committed to attend Memorial plays in the spring. There are many travel baseball organizations for junior high and high school players.
“Rip” went into education like his father. Larry “Pops” Collins coached with James “Mojo” Hollowell at Henderson (Ky.) High School and picked up the habit of giving a nickname to each of his players in 40 years as an East Side Little League coach. He carried that over to his children and grandchildren.
Larry, who died in 2009, and Donna had four kids — Laurie (aka “Pumpkin”), Lainie (“Bird”), James Patrick (“Jock”) and Matthew Ryan (“Rip”).
But not only does he lead the Tigers at the high school level, has has helped organize a feeder system that starts with players ages 5 to 12 at Lebanon Little League and includes the Lebanon Middle School Farm Club program.
“There’s a lot of communication with Little League reps,” says Cosgray. “We range from three to four teams at the middle school (with sixth, seventh and eighth graders). It’s kind of unique. We do not cut (at that level).”
Drawing 40 to 50 middle schoolers each year, the best 12 players are assigned to Eighth Grade Gold, the next to Seventh Grade Black with the others playing in junior league associated with the Little League. The junior league competes against other districts during the summer. The top players tend to play on various travel ball teams.
At Lebanon High School, Cosgray has been fielding three teams — varsity, junior varsity and freshmen or C-team. Most seasons, there are 30 to 35 players.
Schaller is now is the Washington Nationals system after being selected in the third round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Herrin has been in the Los Angeles Angels organization since being drafted in the 18th round in 2015.
Lebanon graduate Joe McCabe played at Lebanon and Purdue University and played briefly with the Minnesota Twins in 1964 and Washington Senators in 1965.
Righty Doug Jones went to Lebanon and Butler University and pitched 16 years in the big leagues, beginning in 1982.
Current Lebanon shortstop/right-hander Garrett Harker is verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati.
Lebanon (enrollment around 975) is a member of the Sagamore Athletic Conference (with Crawfordsville, Danville, Frankfort, North Montgomery, Southmont, Tri-West Hendricks and Western Boone). SAC games are played on Tuesdays and Thursdays with each team facing the other twice.
The Tigers are part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Crawfordsville, Frankfort, North Montgomery and Southmont. Lebanon has won 11 sectionals — the last in 2014.
Lebanon plays varsity home games at Memorial Park in Lebanon. JV and C-team contests are also played there if the varsity is idle. If not, game are played at Lebanon Middle School.
Cosgray’s coaching staff features Chris Coddington, Nathan Kincaid and Bob Adams with the varsity, Ryan Baldwin and Brad Bailey with the JV and Jared Long and Coty Edwards with the C-team.
A 1991 graduate of Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Ind., Cosgray played football for coach Mark Hay, basketball for coach Rick Snodgrass and baseball for coach Larry Crabb. He counts all of them among his mentors and he served on all their coaching staffs.
“Coach Crabb was always disciplined, but he was still able to make the game fun,” says Cosgray. “He had high expectations in terms of your character.”
Cosgray attended Purdue as a student and played one season of baseball at the University of Indianapolis before going back to the West Lafayette campus.
Before coming to Lebanon, he taught one year and coached football and basketball at Mishawaka then spent one season as head girls basketball coach (1997-98) at Elkhart Central and one season of basketball at Jay County.
Cosgray is now a health and physical education teacher at Lebanon Middle School.
Rick and Shannon Cosgray have been married 22 years and have two children. Daughter Whitney Cosgray is a senior and Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis and plans to be an educator. Son Drew Cosgray is a junior soccer and baseball athlete at Lebanon.
Rick Cosgray goes into his 20th season as head baseball coach at Lebanon (Ind.) High School in 2019.