Tanner Gaff grew up in Whitley County, Ind., as a middle infielder who moved to the corners as he got older. The right-hander doubled as a pitcher. A 2016 graduate of Whitko Junior/Senior High School in South Whitley, Gaff went to the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne and was a two-way player until his last season — the extra year granted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I had a pretty good year,” says Gaff, who employed Driveline Baseball training methods and increased his velocity going into 2021. As a pitcher-only in ’21, the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder made 14 mound appearances and went 8-2 with a 4.15 earned run average and 92 strikeouts in 92 1/3 innings. USF went 34-22, setting a school record for single-season victories. Gaff, who earned a degree in Business Management with a Sports concentration in 2020, still wanted to see how far pitching could take him. “I had heard nothing but good things about Tread (Athletics),” says Gaff of the business specializing in online performance coaching. He began training remotely with Tread in the summer of 2021. When Connor Lawhead left the Saint Francis coaching staff and went back to his native Washington, the Cougars were in need of a pitching coach. Gaff filled that role and was part of a staff featuring head coach Dustin Butcher and assistant Kristian Gayday while still honing his own skills. Then came the time to go to Charlotte, N.C., and train with Tread in-house, which he did from February to May of 2022. “Butch was happy for me,” says Gaff of Butcher’s willingness to let him pursue his dreams. “He was all for me furthering my baseball career.” With the help of Tread, Gaff posted videos of him pitching to social media and got the attention of the Minnesota Twins. On May 20, he signed with that organization and is now in Fort Myers gearing up for the Florida Complex League season which opens June 6. The next two steps up the minor league ladder are with the Low-A Florida State League’s Fort Myers Mighty Mussels and High-A Midwest League’s Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels. Throwing from a high three-quarter arm slot, Gaff possesses a four-seam fastball, slider/cutter, curve and splitter (split-finger fastball). “My four-seamer has ‘plus’ carry and sits at 91 to 94,” says Gaff, 24. “I’m always looking to gain mph. When it’s right, his slider is delivered about 80 mph. “My splitter is one of my most promising pitches,” says Gaff. “I get good swing-and-miss with it. “I threw it in middle school though I didn’t know it was called a splitter at the time. I’ve always had it in my back pocket. The movement patterns are always consistent. Sometimes it’s left. Sometimes right.” At Tread, Gaff used TrackMan cameras to learned how to manipulate his splitter and other pitches. Born in Columbia City to James and Debra Gaff, Tanner spent his youth on a 40-acre farm (20 acres of farmland and 20 acres of wetlands) about 10 minutes from Columbia City, Larwill and South Whitley. He played in the South Whitley youth league until about sixth grade then travel ball with a homegrown team later the Ken Jones-coached Flippin’ Frogs and Cam Brannock-coached Summit City Sluggers. As a middle schooler, Gaff was on a Pony League travel team that was coached by then-Whitko head coach Erik Hisner (now at Eastern of Greentown). “That helped us with high school,” says Gaff, who had some teammates go on to win the Wildcats’ first sectional title in 2017. “We kept our core together.” Gaff played two years at USF for head coach Greg Roberts and then assistant Butcher took over the program. “(Roberts) was a really nice guy,” says Gaff. “He cared about his players. Butch is a great coach, but an even better person. “He changed the culture. Saint Francis wasn’t always typically known as a good baseball school.” Tanner has two older married sisters — Starr Kane and Isis Ivy.
Alec Brunson is coming to the end of his college baseball career and he’s doing it with a flourish. Starting in left field and hitting in the No. 2 hole in the batting order, Brunson has been productive for the University of Saint Francis (25-23 overall and 14-18 in the Crossroads League). Going into a conference series Friday and Saturday, April 29-30 at Bethel, righty swinger Brunson is hitting .341 (57-of-167) with six home runs, two triples, 17 doubles, 36 runs batted in and 38 runs scored. The CL tournament is scheduled for May 6-10. He enjoys the 2-hole behind Xavier Nolan and in front of David Miller and Sam Pesa. “I get more AB’s (hitting second),” says Brunson, 22. “If I get on, more times than not Miller and Pesa will hit me in.” Lefty stick Miller has plated 55 and righty Pesa 38. In 2021 — Brunson’s first season with the Cougars after transferring from Purdue Fort Wayne — he hit .272 (56-of-206) with 10 homers, four triples, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 51 runs for 56 games (53 as a starter) and was selected all-conference honorable mention. When deciding to change schools, Brunson went where cousin Kristian Gayday is an assistant coach. “I’ve hit with him since I was 12,” says Brunson. “There was no better option than playing for him and I’ve had two of the better seasons I’ve had in quite some time.” Brunson is also enjoying his time with Saint Francis head coach Dustin Butcher. “His personality is amazing,” says Brunson. “He’s a great guy overall. He’ll do anything for any of his players. “That’s the type of coach I always wanted to play for.” A 2018 graduate of DeKalb High School in Auburn, Ind., Brunson was then a catcher. He would up catching and playing in the outfield and at first base at PFW. He was used at first base at Saint Francis in 2021 and third base in summer ball. An outfielder last summer with the Terre Haute (Ind.) Rex, he was named a Prospect League all-star. “I’ll play wherever they need me,” says Brunson. “My strengths are my hitting and arm. Sometimes I don’t make the best reads in the outfield, but my arm makes up for it. Even when my swing is not perfect it’s still good enough to get a base hit.” Commencement at USF is scheduled for May 7 and Brunson is scheduled to get a degree in Criminal Justice. He is pondering his future. “I’m hoping to play independent (pro) ball before I get a big boy job,” says Brunson, who is also considering considering going into law enforcement but is also feeling the tug of coaching. “I’ve thought about coaching a lot,” says Brunson, who has helped teams at Auburn Little League and in other capacities. “I’ve helped teammates with their swings. I feel like I really understand swing types and what drills can help. “I can’t get away from the game yet. There’s something about baseball that keeps bringing me back.” Brunson plans to be a graduate assistant at Saint Francis in 2022-23 to his foot in the coaching door. He says he will pursue either at Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or an Athletic Administration degree. Born and raised in Auburn, Brunson played in two stints at Auburn Little League and travel ball with the Fort Wayne Cubs (later known as the Fort Wayne Diamondbacks). As a teenager, his D-backs head coach was Javier DeJesus (now pitching coach at Ivy Tech Northeast in Fort Wayne). At DeKalb, Brunson played for Tim Murdock. The 2017 Barons won 19 games and finished as runner-up in the DeKalb Sectional. “I loved him as a coach,” says Brunson of Murdock. “He allowed us to do us. He knew we had played with each other since we were 12.” Brunson played in the 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series in South Bend. Alec is the son of Jason and Jennifer Brunson and older brother of Bella Brunson. Before selling in 2021, Jason was co-owner of Captain’s Cabin on Crooked Lake. The business was once owned by former major league outfielder “Jungle Jim” Rivera. Jennifer is in pharmaceutical sales with Bristol Myers Squibb. DeKalb senior Bella plans to attend Indiana University.
Josh Clinkenbeard knows the life lessons that can be learned through athetics. He absorbed them as a baseball and football player at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snider High School and continues to make it a focus as he has moved up from Panthers assistant to baseball head coach at his alma mater in 2022. “One of the biggest messages we are trying to share with our guys is about being a good community member,” says Snider Class of 1999’s Clinkenbeard, a former outfielder, first baseman and pitcher for Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Andy Owen (Marc Skelton and Bruce Meyer were assistants; Skelton became head coach after Owen and both Skelton and Meyer retired from baseball coaching after 2021) and tight end for Indiana Football Hall of Famer Russ Isaacs. “As individuals, we will always be a part of some collective group. “We remind ourselves to be good teammates. We also try to relate our sport to real life like dealing with adversity and working with others, for example.” Clinkenbeard recalls lessons learned from Owen and company. “One of the biggest things I remember that still rings true with me is how to handle physical mistakes versus mental mistakes as a coach,” says Clinkenbeard. “Dealing with the mental side of sports can be taught and modeled in practice.” Snider (enrollment around 1,900) is a member of the Summit Athletic Conference (with Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Carroll, Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran, Fort Wayne North Side, Fort Wayne Northrop, Fort Wayne South Side, Fort Wayne Wayne and Homestead). SAC teams play home-and-series in the same week against conference opponents. The Panthers are in an IHSAA Class 4A sectional grouping with Carroll, DeKalb (host), East Noble and Northrop. Snider has won 11 sectional titles — the last in 2017. Clinkenbeard was part of that coaching staff. With 31 players in 2022 for varsity and junior varsity squads, Clinkenbeard is assisted by Payton Bieker, Brandon Phelps, Chase Phelps, Tim McCrady and Jimmy Cunningham. All but Cunningham are Snider graduates. Bieker (Class of 2008) played at Purdue University, Brandon Phelps (Class of 2013) and Chase Phelps (Class of 2016) at what is now Purdue Fort Wayne. McCrady (Class of 1983) is the JV head coach. Cunningham is a first-year coach. The Panthers play on Hawley Field (a diamond four miles east of Snider named for former athletic director Michael Hawley who helped plan and build the complex). The facility has been upgraded with irrigation and improved drainage. “The long-term goal is to have lock rooms on-site with indoor batting cages,” says Clinkenbeard. Snider baseball once played at Carrington Field. When the original was torn down to make room for Memorial Stadium (home of the Fort Wayne Wizards), a new Carrington Field was establish across Coliseum Boulevard. When Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (now PFW) purchsed the land, Snider went looking for a new home field. “The unique part is that we are not on-site which creates many challenges, but because we are nestled among some housing additions it gives us a feeling of being part of a community.” A 2003 graduate of Butler University with a degree in Biology with a teaching certificate, Clinkenbeard is in his 18th year as a middle school teacher. Before a rotator cuff injury ended his career, the first baseman was a walk-on at Butler for head coach Steve Farley. “Great coach who really showed me the details of the game,” says Clinkenbeard of Farley. “There are many drills we did in college that we incorporate in our team today.” Jakob Byler (University of Saint Francis) and Trevor Newman (Franklin College) are college commits. Mac Hippenhammer (Class of 2017) went to Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) to play baseball and football. Josh and wife Krisanne Clinkenbeard have three children — Olivia, Jase and Hayes.
Earlham junior Andrew Bradley belted five home runs in a doubleheader sweep of visiting Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe Defiance April 6. The clean-up hitter launched two dingers each in the first and third innings of a 40-7 Game 1 rout. In Game 2, he circled the bases in the third frame as the Quakers won 12-3. The games were contested at Randal R. Sadler Stadium. For the week of week of April 4-10, NCAA Division III Earlham went 3-1 and is 16-6 overall and 5-1 in the HCAC. Earlham is in three-way tie atop the conference standings with Franklin (20-6 overall) and Anderson (13-10). NAIA Taylor went 3-1 on the week and moved to 27-11 overall and 17-5 in the Crossroads League, which ties the Trojans for first place with Mount Vernon Nazarene. Taylor junior T.J. Bass (Greenwood Community) has raised his season totals to 13 home runs and 60 runs batted in. With two wins Sunday against Point Park, first-place Indiana University Southeast moved to 24-10 overall and 12-2 in the River States Conference. Heading into Game 3 of the Point Park series today (April 11), Grenadiers coach Ben Reel has 499 career victories. Indiana Tech has won five straight. The Warriors are 18-15 overall and 6-4 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. In NCAA Division I, Purdue (20-7 overall, 2-4 in the Big Ten) took two of three games from visiting Indiana (12-17, 2-3) at Alexander Field. Game 1 Saturday saw the Boilers roll 17-0. Redshirt junior left-hander Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon) gave up one hit in eight innings with 13 strikeouts. In Sunday’s doubleheader, the Hoosiers prevailed 10-3 with freshman Brock Tibbitts cracking his seventh homer of 2022. Purdue outlasted Indiana 16-15 in the nightcap. Redshirt sophomore Cam Thompson smacked a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the Boilers. Thompson paces the team with 10 circuit clouts. Notre Dame pushed its win streak to eight games. The Irish (20-5 overall, 8-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) are 6-1 at Frank Eck Stadium, including 4-0 this past week. D1Baseball.com has Notre Dame No. 3 nationally in RPI. Indiana State is No. 60, Ball State No. 103, Evansville No. 119, Purdue No. 133, Indiana No. 156, Butler No. 187, Valparaiso No. 206 and Purdue Fort Wayne No. 230. Purdue Fort Wayne is on a season-best four-game win streak after besting Michigan once and Wisconsin-Milwaukee three times.
Sunday, April 10 Anderson 13, Mount St. Joseph 9 Anderson 11, Mount St. Joseph 0 DePauw 7, Oberlin 3 DePauw 16, Oberlin 10 Hanover 3, Earlham 1 Earlham 7, Hanover 3 Franklin 10, Defiance 2 Franklin 7, Defiance 4 Rose-Hulman 5, Manchester 2 Rose-Hulman 22, Manchester 9 Kalamazoo 5, Trine 2 Kalamazoo 18, Trine 5 Kenyon 5, Wabash 1 Kenyon 10, Wabash 4
NAIA Monday, April 4 Bethel 10, Marian 6 Bethel 12, Marian 11 Calumet of Saint Joseph 7, Trinity International 3 Mount Vernon Nazarene 8, Goshen 4 Mount Vernon Nazarene 6, Goshen 2 Indiana Wesleyan 11, Grace 4 Grace 4, Indiana Wesleyan 2 Taylor 13, Saint Francis 7 Taylor 8, Saint Francis 3
Tuesday, April 5 IU Kokomo 6, Indiana Tech 5 (8 inn.) Judson 4, IU South Bend 3 Judson 15, IU South Bend 10
Wednesday, April 6 Indiana Tech 15, Wright State-Lake 2
Thursday, April 7 Ivy Tech Northeast 12, Indiana Tech JV 3 Indiana Tech JV 6, Ivy Tech Northeast 5 Mount Vernon Nazarene 7, Saint Francis 6 Saint Francis 8, Mount Vernon Nazarene 3 Vincennes 12, Oakland City JV 5
Saturday, April 9 Marian 7, Grace 5 Grace 12, Marian 2 Huntington 17, Indiana Wesleyan 7 Huntington 2, Indiana Wesleyan 1 Trinity Christian 5, IU South Bend 4 (9 inn.) Trinity Christian 10, IU South Bend 5 Taylor 5, Spring Arbor 3 Spring Arbor 4, Taylor 3
Sunday, April 10 Goshen 4, Bethel 2 Goshen 5, Bethel 2 St. Ambrose 14, Calumet of Saint Joseph 4 St. Ambrose 11, Calumet of Saint Joseph 3 West Virginia Tech 8, IU Kokomo 6 West Virginia Tech 2, IU Kokomo 0 IU Southeast 6, Point Park 5 IU Southeast 5, Point Park 3 Indiana Tech 4, Cleary 0 Indiana Tech 12, Cleary 5 Midway 3, Oakland City 2 Oakland City 14, Midway 0
Junior College Tuesday, April 5 Ivy Tech Northeast 21, Glen Oaks 7
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
The Mighty Oaks of Oakland City University swing some mighty potent bats in improving to 11-4 on the 2022 baseball season. OCU went 6-1 for the Week of Feb. 21-27 and collected 49 hits — 16 for extra bases — in a four-game sweep of Grace Christian. Chandler Dunn (.533, 12 runs batted in, 16 runs scored), Noah Baugher (.419, 11 R), Payton Hall (Benton Central High School graduate) (.400, 17 R), Treven Madden (2 home runs, 12 RBIs), Sam Pinckert (Heritage Hills) (2 HR, 16 RBIs, 12 R), Bailey Falkenstien (Jeffersonville) (2 HR), Gehrig Tenhumberg (Evansville Reitz) (2-0, 2.70 earned run average, 23 strikeouts, 3 walks, 20 innings) and Milan VanDerBreggen (2-1, 2.38, 15 K’s, 1 base on balls, 11 1/3 IP) are among leaders for Andy Lasher-coached Mighty Oaks. Oakland City went 17-27 in 2021. In other NAIA play, Taylor — coached by Kyle Gould — moved to 9-6 with a 3-1 week. On the season, offensive leaders include T.J. Bass (Greenwood Community) (.356 average, 5 HR, 26 RBIs), Kaleb Kolpien (Homestead) (.474, 12 RBIs) and Camden Knepp (Northridge) (12 RBIs). On the mound, Matt Duktowski (NorthWood) is 2-0 with 16 K’s and three walks over 15 1/3 innings. Todd Bacon-coached Marian went 2-2 for the week and is 8-6. For the season, A.J. Bordenet (Lafayette Central Catholic) (.458, 11 RBIs), Jackson Hogg (.390), Bryce Davenport (.350, 3 HR, 10 RBIs), Kato Hironori (2 HR) and Brodie Rinehold (Franklin Community) (2 HR) are among top batsmen. Pitcher Damien Wallace (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) has made four starts and is 3-0 with 3.05 ERA, 24 K’s and eight walks in 20 2/3 innings. Some other NAIA performers: Indiana University Southeast — Trevor Campbell (.364) and Brody Tanksley (Bedford North Lawrence) (4 HR, 10 RBIs); Indiana Tech — Jacob Daftari (Hamilton Southeastern) (.471) and Manuel Ascanio (.407); Indiana University-Kokomo — Dylan Steele (Bloomington North) (.357) and Ben Harris (Northwestern) (2-1, 2.08, 13 K’s, 10 BB, 13 IP); Grace — Alex Rich (Crown Point) (.395, 11 RBIs), Chris Griffin (.375, 10 RBIs), Sam Newkirk (3 HR, 11 RBIs) and Austin Carr (Franklin Central) (10 RBIs); Bethel — Andrew Sarno (.474), Jake Schlasky (Crown Point) (10 RBIs), Jeremy Wiersema (9 RBIs, 7-of-8 on stolen bases) and Frank Plesac (Crown Point) (2-1, 2.55, 21 K’s, 5 BB, 17 2/3 IP); and Goshen — Morgan Baker (2 HR in Game 1 vs. Brescia). NCAA Division I Purdue is off to an 8-0 start. Led by Curtis Washington Jr. (7-of-7) and Evan Albrecht (6-of-6), the Boliermakers are 35-of-35 in stolen base attempts. Albrecht (.462), Washington (.375), Cam Thompson (13 RBIs) and Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon) (2-0, 1.07, 18 K’s, 4 BB, 9 1/3 IP) are among the hot Boilermakers, which are coached by Greg Goff. Some other top NCAA D-I performers: Notre Dame — Ryan Cole (.500, 6 RBI, 5-5 SB), Brooks Coetze (2 HR), Carter Putz (8 RBI), Jack Brannigan (6 RBI), Aidan Tyrell (2-0, 0.00, 11 K’s, 3 BB, 11 IP) and John Michael Bertrand (2-0. 0.69, 19 K’s, 1 BB, 13 IP; Indiana State — Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo) (.414), Diego Gines (.407), Mike Sears (2 HR), Parker Stinson (Yorktown) (9 RBI), Miguel Rivera (6 RBI), Sean Ross (6 RBI) and Matt Jachec (2-0. 1.35, 13 K’s, 0 BB, 13 1/3 IP); Valparaiso — Kaleb Hannahs (West Vigo) (.474, 2 HR, 7 runs), Alex Thurston (.353), Kyle Schmack (South Central of Union Mills) (.333, 5 RBIs) and Colin Fields 1-0, 1.64, 15 K’s, 5 BB, 11 IP); Butler — Travis Holt (.478, 7 R, 5-6 SB), James Gargano (7 RBIs), Cole McDaniel (1-0, 2.25) and Derek Drees (0-0, 2 games, 10 K’s, 3 BB, 5 IP); Ball State — Amir Wright (Griffith) (.333); Indiana — Bobby Whalen (.391, 4 RBI, 5-5 SB), Matthew Ellis (2 HR) and Braydon Tucker (Northview) (0-1, 1.93, 2 appearances, 5 K, 5 BB, 4 2/3 IP); Evansville — Mark Shallenberger (.304) and Nick Smith (Boonville) (0-1, 1.61, 9 1/3 IP); and Purdue Fort Wayne — Alex Evenson (.320) and Jack Lang (Hamilton Southeastern) (.310, 6 RBIs). Tracy Archuleta-coached Southern Indiana is out of the gate at 6-0. The Screaming Eagles have been led by Lucas McNew (Borden) (.455, 2 HR, 13 RBIs through 5 games), Ethan Hunter (Terre Haute South Vigo) (11 RBIs) and Brice Stuteville (South Spencer) (0-0, 1.42, 3 games, 8 K’s, 0 BB, 6 1/3 IP). Other top NCAA D-II performers: Indianapolis — Alex Vela (Cardinal Ritter) (.478, 6 RBIs, 11 R, 5-7 SB), Caleb Vaughan (Lawrence North) (.409, 10 R), Drew Donaldson (8 RBI) and Xavier Rivas (Portage) (1-0, 1.93, 2 games, 23 K’s, 6 BB, 14 IP). In NCAA Division III, the Adam Rosen Era began at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology with the Fightin’ Engineers winning both of the first-year head coach’s first two games. Adam Taylor (Perry Meridian) (5 RBI’s), Josh Mesenbrink (4 RBI’s), Brett Tuttle (1 HR, 5 R) and Ian Kline (1-0, 1.50, 4 2/3 IP) are among the RHIT leaders. Other top NCAA D-III performers: Earlham — Cameron McCabe (.500), Zach Swearingen (.500), Andrew Bradley (.500), Maxwell Fries (8 RBIs) and Keodon Kuderer (6 R); Franklin — Logan Demkovich (Munster) (2 HR); DePauw — Evan Barnes .588 through 4 games), Cameron Macon .563, 2 HR, 9 RBIs, 8 R) and Cameron Allen (9 R); Wabash — Liam Patton (Warsaw) (.800 3 2B, 3 RBIs), Camden Scheidt (Highland) (.500), Reese Bauer (Northeast Dubois) (.500) and Dylan Scheid (Lawrence North) (0-0, 1.50, 1 game, 8 Ks, 0 BB, 6 IP); Anderson — Jake Stank (Mount Vernon of Fortville) (.444) and Tyler Smitherman (Westfield) (2 HR); and Manchester — Brady Perez (Rochester) (2 HR, 4 RBIs). In junior college, Vincennes U.’s Colton Evans is hitting .465 and Connor VanLannen is 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 18 K’s in 15 innings.
Friday, Feb. 25 UNC-Wilmington 2, Ball State 0 Butler 6, Jackson State 5 Arkansas 5, Indiana 2 Indiana State 14, Merrimack 2 Notre Dame 20, Marist 2 Purdue 9, Princeton 3 Purdue 8, Princeton 3 California Baptist 4, Purdue Fort Wayne Valparaiso 9, Alabama A&M 2 Valparaiso 3, Alabama A&M 2
Saturday, Feb. 26 Middle Tennessee 1, Ball State 0 Butler 10, Prairie View 1 Butler 9, Jackson State 1 Evansville 11, Dayton 2 Indiana 12, Louisiana-Lafayette 4 Indiana State 16, Minnesota 3 Notre Dame 16, Monmouth 2 Notre Dame 9, Monmouth 0 Purdue 4, Princeton 3 Purdue 5, Princeton 4 California Baptist 23, Purdue Fort Wayne 5 California Baptist 5, Purdue Fort Wayne 3
Sunday, Feb. 27 Coastal Carolina 7, Ball State 2 Dayton 4, Evansville 2 Dayton 5, Evansville 4 Stanford 13, Indiana 0 Indiana State 14, Minnesota 8 Purdue Fort Wayne vs. California Baptist
NCAA D-II Saturday, Feb. 26 Northwood 11, Indianapolis 6 Northwood 5, Indianapolis 4 Southern Indiana 12, Lake Erie 4
Sunday, Feb. 27 Northwood 9, Indianapolis 4 Southern Indiana 8, Lake Erie 3
NCAA D-III Wednesday, Feb. 23 Centre 9, Hanover 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Otterbein 8, Anderson 3 Baldwin Wallace 9, DePauw 8 Franklin 20, Albion 1 North Central 15, Manchester 5 Hope 16, Manchester 5 Wabash 3, Heidelberg 2 Maryville 4, Hanover 1 Earlham 20, Olivet 4 Earlham 9, Olivet 4 Asbury 5, Trine 4 Asbury 5, Trine 1
Sunday, Feb. 27 Baldwin Wallace 9, Anderson 4 DePauw 10, Transylvania 4 Earlham 10, Olivet 9 Franklin 11, Albion 6 Franklin 11, Albion 5 Wabash 15, Otterbein 5 Rose-Hulman 14, North Vermont-Lyndon 1 Rose-Hulman 12, North Vermon-Lyndon 11 Trine 3, Asbury 1
NAIA Monday, Feb. 21 Bethel 5, Oakland City 3 Oakland City 5, Bethel 4 (8 inn.) IU-Kokomo 5, Calumet of Saint Joseph 2 IU-Kokomo 5, Calumet of Saint Joseph 1 Indiana Tech 4, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Indiana Wesleyan 6, Indiana Tech 3 Marian 11, Georgetown 9
Wednesday, Feb. 23 Oakland City 9, Asbury 2
Thursday, Feb. 24 Bethel 11, Toccoa Falls 7
Friday, Feb. 25 Toccoa Falls 7, Bethel 1 Faulkner 3, Indiana Wesleyan 2 Indiana Wesleyan 4, Faulkner 3 Marian 9, Edward Waters 5 Edward Waters 8, Marian 7 Edward Waters 2, Marian 1 Taylor 8, Olivet Nazarene 6 Olivet Nazarene 2, Taylor 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Bethel 4, Toccoa Falls 0 Bethel 4, Toccoa Falls 3 Faulkner 8, Indiana Wesleyan 4 Faulkner 4, Indiana Wesleyan 3 Oakland City 13, Grace Christian 1 Oakland City 13, Grace Christian 4 Saint Francis 7, IU South Bend 5 Saint Francis 7, IU South Bend 6 Taylor 11, Olivet Nazarene 1 Taylor 9, Olivet Nazarene 5
Sunday, Feb. 27 Brescia 5, Goshen 4 Brescia 8, Goshen 5 Oakland City 11, Grace Christian 1 Oakland City 26, Grace Christian 0 Indiana Tech 6, IU Kokomo 2 Indiana Tech 7, IU Kokomo 5
Junior College Monday, Feb. 21 Vincennes 10, Marian’s Ancilla 2 Vincennes 3, South Suburban 1
Saturday, Feb. 26 Clark State 4, Marian’s Ancilla 3 Clark State 9, Marian’s Ancilla 4
Sunday, Feb. 27 Marian’s Ancilla 10, Clark State 9 Clark State 7, Marian’s Ancilla 3 Morton 10, Vincennes 5 Joliet 10, Vincennes 3
The state’s nine NCAA Division I baseball teams opened the 2022 this past weekend. Purdue swept a four-game series against South Dakota State — 5-4, 11-1, 14-3 and 10-7 Friday through Sunday, Feb. 18-20 — in Sugar Land, Texas. Mike Bolton Jr., Paul Toetz and Cam Thompson all went 4-of-11 (.364) at the plate for the Boilermakers. Toetz belted a pair of home runs. Thompson drove in nine runs. Ty Gill (Valparaiso High School graduate) homered in his first collegiate at-bat in Game 2. Winning pitchers were right-hander Landon Weins (Frankton), left-hander Jackson Smeltz (McCutcheon), lefty Troy Wansing and righty Kyle Wade (Kokomo). Ball State (2-2) bested Bucknell 8-7 and Army 10-6 and lost 11-1 to Iowa and 9-0 to Air Force in Charleston, S.C. Amir Wright (Griffith) went 5-of-15 (.333) and Ryan Peltier 3-of-10 (.300) for the weekend while Hunter Dobbins (Mount Vernon of Fortville) clubbed two home runs in his first collegiate contest (vs. Bucknell) for the Cardinals. Earning mound wins were lefty Jake Lewis (New Albany) against Bucknell and righty Andre Orselli against Army. Righty Sam Klein (Bloomington North) picked up the save vs. Bucknell. Indiana State (2-2) won 3-2 against Brigham Young and 9-7 against Marshall and lost 9-3 and 9-8 to Ohio State in Port Charlotte, Fla. Jordan Schaffer (West Vigo) went 6-of-14 (.429), Mike Sears 4-of-10 (.400) with two homers and four RBIs and Josue Urdaneta 7-of-18 (.389) for the Sycamores. Winning hurlers were righty Matt Jachec against BYU and righty Brennyn Cutts against Marshall. Righty Connor Fenlong saved both victories. Notre Dame (2-1) topped Manhattan 17-2 and Stetson 5-3 and lost 5-4 to Delaware in Deland, Fla. David LaManna went 4-of-6 (.667), Brooks Coetze 5-of-17 (.417) with two homers, Carter Putz 4-of-11 (.364) and Zack Prajzner 4-of-11 (.364) for the Irish. Winning pitchers were lefty Aidan Tyrell against Manhattan and lefty John Michael Bertrand against Stetson. Righty Ryan McLinskey got the save against the Hatters. Valparaiso (1-2) lost 13-0 and 4-3 then won 10-8 in a three-game series at Memphis. Kaleb Hannahs (West Vigo) went 6-of-13 (.462) with two homers and Kyle Schmack (South Central of Union Mills) 4-of-11 (.364) for the Beacons. Lefty Jake Miller was the winning pitcher and righty Bobby Nowak (Hanover Central) notched the save in the series finale. Butler (0-3) lost 6-4, 18-1 and 25-12 at Murray State. Travis Holt went 4-of-10 and Ryan O’Halloran 3-of-8 for the Bulldogs. Lefty Cory Bosecker (Evansville Central) struck out six in five innings on the mound. Evansville (0-3) lost 24-6, 6-4 and 7-0 at No. 10 North Carolina State. Brent Widder went 4-of-12 (.333) and Ty Rumsey (Evansville North) 3-of-10 (.300) for the Purple Aces. Lefty Michael Parks fanned four in 2 2/3 innings. Indiana (0-3) lost 9-0, 19-4 and 5-4 (10 innings) at Clemson. Bobby Whalen went 6-of-14 (.429) and Brock Tibbitts 3-of-7 (.429) while Tyler Doanes, Matthew Ellis and Phillip Glasser homered for the Hoosiers. Righty Jack Perkins (Kokomo) whiffed eight in 3 2/3 innings and righty Reese Sharp (University) seven in three. Purdue Fort Wayne (0-4) lost 13-2, 12-2, 6-5 and 8-7 at Georgia State. Jack Lang (Hamilton Southeastern) went 5-of-14 (.357) with one homer and six RBIs, Alex Evenson 4-of-12 (.333), Cade Nelis (Noblesville) 3-of-9 (.333) and Garret Lake plated five runs for the Mastodons. In NCAA Division II, the University of Indianapolis (3-0) downed Notre Dame (Ohio) 5-0, 15-14 and 13-3 at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind. Drew Donaldson drove in four runs in Game 3 and three in Game 2 (when the Greyhounds scored in every frame but the fourth and fifth). Alex Vela (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) scored four runs in Game 2. Brandon DeWitt scored three runs in Game 2 and plated three in Game 3. Winning pitchers were lefty Xavier Rivas (Portage) in Game 1, righty Wyatt Phillips (Indian Creek) in Game 2 and righty Logan Peterson in Game 3. Southern Indiana (3-0) won 19-6, 11-4 and 10-8 at Young Harris (Ga.). Lucas McNew (Borden) knocked in six runs in Game 1 and scored four in Game 2. Adam Wildeman (Evansville Mater Dei) plated three runs and Ethan Hunter (Terre Haute South Vigo) scored four in Game 2. Daniel Lopez scored three times in Game 3 for the Screaming Eagles. Winning hurlers were righty Tyler Hutson, lefty Blake Ciuffetelli (Castle) and righty Carter Stamm (Jasper). Purdue Northwest is slated to open the season Friday, Feb. 25 at McKendree (Ill.). In NCAA Division III, DePauw (2-1) lost 6-3 to North Central (Ill.) then routed Wilimington (Ohio) 16-0 and Blackburn (Ill.) 25-7 in Carbondale, Ill. Cameron Allen and Brian May drove in three runs each and Allen, Kyle Boyer and Cameron Macon (home run) scored three apiece against Wilmington for the Tigers. Against Blackburn, Macon plated five, May and Paul Jennewein three each while Allen, May, Macon and Evan Barnes all crossed the plate three times. Lefty Michael Vallone and righty Will Lucas were winning pitchers. While Anderson is 1-2, Hanover (Feb. 22 at Centre), Manchester (Feb. 25 vs. North Central at Grand Park), Wabash (Feb. 25 vs. Heidelberg at Grand Park), Earlham (Feb. 26 vs. Olivet), Franklin (Feb. 26 vs. Albion at Indianapolis Bishop Chatard), Trine (Feb. 26 at Asbury) and Rose-Hulman (Feb. 27 vs. Northern Vermont-Lyndon in Auburndale, Fla.) are nearing their season openers. In the NAIA, No. 7 Indiana University Southeast (5-6) swept three games at Blue Mountain (Miss.) — 7-4, 14-6 and 9-4 — running the Grenadiers’ win streak to five. In Game 1, Brody Tanksley plated three runs and head coach Ben Reel became the career wins leader at IUS with 478, surpassing Rick Parr. In Game 2, Marco Romero drove in two runs and scored four. In Game 3, Trevor Campbell knocked in three runs. Taylor (6-5) downed Siena Heights (Mich.) 12-1, 4-0 and 4-3 and lost 9-3 in Hoover, Ala. Kade Vander Molen (4 RBIs in Game 1), Bloomington South grad Mason David (homer in Game 2 to support righty and Mishawaka graduate Luke Shively) and Greenwood alum T.J. Bass (3 RBIs to back righty and NorthWood grad Matt Dutkowski in Game 3) were among key contributors for the Trojans. Goshen (3-3) split four games at Toccoa Falls (Ga.), winning 11-7 and 6-3 in Game 1 and 3 and losing 3-0 and 14-3 in Game 2 and 4. Camm Nickell (Northridge) is 7-of-18 (.389) with four RBIs on the season for the Maple Leafs. Saint Francis (6-4) won 10-8 and 4-2 before losing 8-7 and 7-5 at Pikeville (Ky.). David Miller homered and drove in three runs in Game 1. Sam Pesa (Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger) plated three runs in Game 2. Indiana University South Bend beat Aquinas (Mich.) 11-7 and lost 15-14 in 10 innings at Grand Park. Evan Allen (McCutcheon) drove in three runs while Owen Benson and Brenden Bell scored three runs each for the Titans in Game 1. Benson had two RBIs and three runs in Game 2. Indiana Tech (2-3) beat Midway (Ky.) 5-3 and lost 6-5 to host Georgetown (Ky.). Jacob Daftari is 7-of-14 (.500 and Manuel Ascanio 8-of-21 (.381) on the season for the Warriors. Oakland City (5-3) split a doubleheader with Bethel, losing 7-2 and winning 7-6. Sam Pinckert (Heritage Hills) drove in three runs in the Mighty Oaks’ win. In the triumph for Bethel (2-8), Alex Stout (Benton Central) socked a three-run homer and wound up with four RBIs. Marian (6-4) beat Carolina University 11-5 then lost 9-2 to Carolina U., in Winston-Salem, N.C., and 8-4 at No. 5 Tennessee Wesleyan. Matteo Porcellato collected three hits and scored three runs in the Knights’ win against Carolina. Righty Damien Wallace (Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter) was the winning pitcher. Grace (5-7) lost 10-0, 9-5, 2-0 and 12-4 to Saint Xavier (Ill.) in White Pine, Tenn. Alex Rich (Crown Point) is 17-of-43 (.395) for the Lancers on the season. Among junior colleges, Nick Kapostasy lofted a walk-off sacrifice fly as Vincennes University (2-3) edged South Suburban (Ill.) 8-7 after beating Marian University’s Ancilla College 15-5. South Suburban (Ill.) beat MUAC (0-5) by a 17-3 count. All games were played at Vincennes.
More Indiana college baseball teams got into the 2022 act this past week. Saint Francis won 8-4 and 9-3 at Bethel (Tenn.) Sunday, Feb. 6. Alec Brunson went 6-of-7 with a home run and four runs batted in on the day. Kaden Sullivan, David Miller and Tyler Prince also went deep for the Cougars. Grace went 3-1 Feb. 4-5 against Trinity International in Hoover, Ala., winning 22-1, 5-1 and 17-2 and losing 3-0. Chris Griffin (7-of-13 with three RBIs), Alex Rich (6-of-13 with five RBIs), Austin Carr (6-of-15 with a homer and six RBIs), Patrick Danforth (4-of-12 with four RBIs) and Sam Newkirk (4-of-12 with a homer and six RBIs) were among the hitting leaders for the Lancers. Indiana University-Kokomo opened its season by going 1-3 Feb. 5-6 in Shreveport, La., splitting two games with LSU Shreveport and dropping a pair to Loyola New Orleans. Oakland City edged Johnson University 11-10 Feb. 6 in Knoxville, Tenn. Bailey Falkenstien (2-for-5 with a homer and a double) and Treven Madden (1-fo-2 with a double) both knocked in three runs for the Mighty Oaks. Marian went 1-2 Feb, 4-5 against Truest-Mcconnell in Emerson, Ga. The Knights lost 5-2 and 9-4 and won 4-1. Bryce Davenport went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two runs scored for Marian in the victory. Bethel’s games at Champion Christian in Hot Springs, Ark., and Vincennes U.’s contests at Motlow State (Tenn.), were canceled.
Two NAIA teams got a head start on the rest of the state’s 38 college baseball programs in starting the 2022 baseball season. Huntington University and Taylor University of the Crossroads League got going in Mesa, Ariz., the Foresters going 1-3 (HU beat Benedictine at Mesa 14-10 in 10 innings Feb. 20 and lost 19-4 to Arizona Christian and 13-9 to Benedictine at Mesa Feb. 21 and 15-3 to Arizona Christian Feb. 22 ) and the Trojans 2-2 (TU beat Kansas Wesleyan 6-2 Feb. 26 and San Diego Christian 20-8 Feb. 27 and lost 7-5 to Arizona Christian Feb. 28 and 10-8 to The Master’s Feb. 29). Oakland City, Bethel, Grace, Indiana University-Kokomo, Marian Saint Francis, are scheduled to lift the lid Friday, Feb. 4 and Vincennes Saturday, Feb. 5. For many other teams, the first game of 2022 is a few weeks away. See below:
INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL Records Through Jan. 30
NCAA D-I Ball State (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 vs. Bucknell at Charleston, S.C. Butler (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 at Murray (Ky.) State. Evansville (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 at North Carolina State. Indiana (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 at Clemson. Indiana State (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 vs. Brigham Young at Port Charlotte, Fla. Notre Dame (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 vs. Manhattan at Deland, Fla. Purdue (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 vs. South Dakota State at Sugar Land, Texas. Purdue Fort Wayne (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 at Georgia State. Valparaiso (0-0) — Opens Feb. 18 at Memphis.
NCAA D-III Anderson (0-0) — Opens Feb. 12 at Sewanee (Tenn.). DePauw (0-0) — Opens Feb. 19 vs. North Central (Ill.) at Carbondale, Ill. Hanover (0-0) — Opens Feb. 22 at Centre (Ky.). Manchester (0-0) — Opens Feb. 25 vs. North Central (Ill.) at Westfield, Ind. (Grand Park). Earlham (0-0) — Opens Feb. 26 vs. Olivet (Mich.). Franklin (0-0) — Opens Feb. 26 vs. Albion (Mich.) at Chillcothe, Ohio. Trine (0-0) — Opens Feb. 26 at Asbury (Ky.). Wabash (0-0) — Opens Feb. 26 vs. Heidelberg (Ohio) at Westfield, Ind. (Grand Park). Rose-Hulman (0-0) — Opens Feb. 27 vs. Northern Vermont-Lyndon at Auburndale, Fla.
Kristian Gayday was born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind., and that’s where he learned about baseball and where he continues to share his knowledge. Gayday, who turns 30 on Dec. 20, is heading into his fourth season as an assistant coach at the University of Saint Francis, located on the Summit City’s west side. Growing up near Waynedale on the south end of town, Gayday played at Don Ayres Little League, travel ball for the Aboit Braves and Fort Wayne Cubs (coached by Cisco Morales) then played on the last four teams at Elmhurst High School (it ceased to be a high school after 2009-10) and four years at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne (now Purdue Fort Wayne). He has coached in the Fort Wayne Diamondbacks travel organization (formerly Fort Wayne Cubs). Gayday played three seasons for Eddie Fields and his senior year for Zac Pace at Elmhurst, helping the Trojans go 18-7 and win the program’s first sectional title in eight years. A power-hitting shortstop, he was named all-Summit City Athletic Conference and all-area as a senior. “(Pace) did a good team with a senior-laden team,” says Gayday. Bobby Pierce was the coach of the IPFW Mastodons and Gayday played shortstop or third base from 2011-14. A righty swinger, he hit .274 (183-of-667) with 16 home runs, two triples, 31 doubles and 104 runs batted in 201 games. “He’s such a cool person,” says Gayday of Pierce. “He’s figure out a way to develop guys. He’d break down the swing and show different perspectives. “He taught me most of what I know today and was such a good mentor.” In 2015, Gayday played mostly as a corner infielder for the Sonoma (Calif.) Stompers of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. That team was managed by Japan native Takashi Miyoshi. Gayday, who has worked at The Diamond Baseball & Softball Academy in Fort Wayne, was called away from coaching a Fort Wayne Diamondbacks team to play for Sonoma. He anticipates coaching for the Manny Lopez-led D-backs in 2022. At Saint Francis, Gayday is on the staff of Cougars head coach Dustin Butcher. “He’s such a likable guy,” says Gayday of Butcher. “You know he has your back. “I’m grateful to have him around and being a mentor to me.” Primary duties for Gayday include working with USF hitters and infielders while also aiding in the running game. One of the keys for Gayday’s hitters is “being athletic.” To Gayday, swinging a bat requires attention to pitcher’s tendencies and the mental side. “We want them to stay back instead of trying to force their body to do something,” says Gayday. “We do not want them having a good approach and not being pull happy. “Instead of pulling, they can hit a curveball to right field and see what happens.” Gayday stresses a “prep step” for his infielders. “It’s a nice hop down into our legs so we can stay low,” says Gayday. “We want to set our feet and make a good throw. “Everyone is progressing the right way.” It also helps that the hops at Cougar Field are getting smoother. “We’ve put a lot of time in that field to make it better,” says Gayday. Saint Francis, a member of the NAIA-affiliated Crossroads League, went 34-22 and stole 73 bases in 86 attempts. Keys to success include reading the pitcher’s delivery (slide step, leg kick etc.) and his pick-off move. “We want to put momentum into our steal,” says Gayday. “Being a half step quicker is what we’re looking for.” While its currently a period where athletes are away from the coaching staff, there can be communication through calls and social media. When the team comes back from break in early January, the Cougars will hit the ground running in preparation for the 2022 season opener Feb. 4 at Bethel (Tenn.) University. Besides coaching, Gayday runs the shipping and receiving department for McMahon Best-One Tire & Auto Care in Fort Wayne and answers directly to Pat “Bubba” McMahon, who is also head baseball coach at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne. Kristian lost both parents — Elmhurst graduates Johnny and Christine — in 2020. He has two older siblings — John Gayday and Natasha Nestleroad.