Tag Archives: University of Saint Francis (Ind.)

New Saint Francis Cougars head baseball coach Butcher committed to making history

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Dustin Butcher wants baseball success for his alma mater.

The new head baseball coach at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind., is committed to making the Cougars into a perennial championship contender — something already achieved by the school’s football and basketball programs.

“To do something special, you have to commit to it,” says Butcher, who takes over the program after the retirement of Greg Roberts. “We’re going to make history here at some point.

“I’m excited. I have a lot of pride in this university.”

Saint Francis is a member of the NAIA-affiliated Crossroads League (along with Bethel College, Goshen College, Grace College, Huntington University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marian University, Mt. Vernon Nazarene University, Spring Arbor University and Taylor University). The Cougars are seeking their first regular-season or tournament title in baseball.

USF head football coach Kevin Donley is the winningest coach in NAIA history. Men’s basketball Chad LaCross has won over 70 percent of his games with two national runner-up teams. Coach Jason Ridge now leads a women’s basketball program that won a national title in 2014.

Butcher graduated from Heritage High School in Monroeville, Ind., and played baseball and soccer at Saint Francis, completing his undergraduate degree in 2001. He went on to earn a masters in sports and exercise psychology from Ball State University.

During his internship with USF’s soccer teams — men and women — Butcher got a chance to built the mental skill set of athletes.

Butcher played baseball for coach Dean Lehrman at Heritage. His USF coaches were Steve Kovacs and Doug Coate in baseball and Ken Nuber then Mitch Ellisen in soccer.

“I’m thankful,” says Butcher. “Coach Lehrman kind of saved me from myself. He was very honest. I wasn’t on the best path. I wasn’t living up to expectations.”

Butcher says he contributed to Cougars soccer for his willingness to be a grinder.

“I was good in high school, but at the collegiate level I wasn’t good enough,” says Butcher. “But I think I made everybody around me better because I would never stop.

“It made me realize that you need guys like that. I pushed guys in practice. They knew you couldn’t take a day off.”

Butcher’s first assistant college baseball coaching stop came at Marian in Indianapolis on the staff of Kurt Guldner and assistants Kip McWilliams and Toby Rogers.

Jessica Butcher, Dustin’s wife, is a family doctor with Lutheran Health Physicians. She did her residency in Fort Wayne and Dustin coached a season at Saint Francis and then went with head coach McWilliams at Indiana Tech. Butcher returned to Saint Francis to join Roberts in the fall of 2008 and remained until the present.

“I’m appreciative of Coach Guldner giving me my first job,” says Butcher. “Coach Mac is really the one that got me going to the (annual American Baseball Coaches Association national convention). If you love baseball and you’ve never been to an ABCA convention, you need to go. It’s mind-blowing.

“It’s such a cool culture of coaches. It’s a group of guys constantly trying to learn and share information. I love it.”

Butcher is grateful for Roberts, who allowed him to find his own way of implementing his philosophy.

“He allowed us to coach,” says Butcher, who also served alongside Miguel Tucker (who is now on McWilliams’ staff at Indiana Tech). “He gave us full autonomy. He allowed us to fail and succeed on his watch. He was just so good at teaching. He always had an angle that would make you think.

“I owe him a lot.”

As head coach, Butcher will emphasize the grinder mentality

“I want to challenge them to where they hit a wall physically and they have to figure out how to get to the other side,” says Butcher. “You’ve got to find something within yourself.”

To narrow the gap on the competition, Butcher expects his athletes to move some iron.

“I’m a big believer in the weight room — it allows you to compete at a higher level quicker.

“To win at the NAIA level, you see a lot of teams across the country in the World Series or Top 25 with transfers (Division I or junior college). We don’t have the luxury of being able to pluck any JC kid or get every Division I bounce-back. We don’t have the financial capability. To be able to compete, we’ve got to push in the weight room.

“To make history, we need to do more — we need to develop more, we need to take more swings outside of practice time. That’s something I’m going to ask our coaches to do.”

Former Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne player Kristian Gayday has been hired as a USF baseball assistant and a search is one for a second assistant. Gayday, who played for Mastodons and head coach Bobby Pierce, will lead Cougars hitters and help with infielders and outfielders.

Butcher is especially fond of the methods favored by strength and conditioning specialist Eric Cressey. Because they seem to be more in-line with baseball, the coach says his Cougars will front squat and deadlift.

Recruiting at Saint Francis focuses on a 50-mile radius around the school. Anyone from inside that ring can commute. By school policy, those outside that radius must live on campus and that adds to the cost.

The 2019 online roster includes 15 players from Allen or surrounding Indiana counties.

Using resources like FieldLevel and getting athletes to on-campus to experience the atmosphere of home football games, Butcher is wrapping up the 2018-19 recruiting class while also looking for 2019-20 commits.

Travel organizations that have been good to Saint Francis are the Fort Wayne Diamondbacks, Summit City Sluggers and Indiana Chargers.

“Those are three top programs,” says Butcher. “You want to make sure you see them in the summer because they always have kids to recruit.”

He expects his roster to hover between 30 and 40 players, which will take practices and a few scrimmages in the fall and a 55-game schedule in the spring. Some winter workouts will take place at The Diamond Baseball and Softball Academy. All home games will be played on the turf at the ASH Centre in Fort Wayne.

Dustin, the oldest of six children, is the son of Becki Beauchot and Steve Butcher. Dustin’s sisters are Abbi, Emily and Daisy with Sam and Jack (a senior-to-be at Heritage).

Living in Leo, Ind., Dustin and Jessica Butcher have two children — Nolan (9) and Ella (7). Ella was in Miguel Tucker’s wedding. Jessica has been the baby doctor for former USF players.

“That’s why you do it,” says Butcher of the bonds formed through baseball. “It’s a family. That’s hard to get through to coaches.

“I hope they understand it.”

DUSTINBUTCHER1

Alum and long-time assistant coach Dustin Butcher is now the head baseball coach at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind. (Steve Krah Photo)

 

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IU, Purdue bow out in D-I regionals; Indiana’s 36 other college baseball teams wrap up 2018 season

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The state’s two Big Ten schools — Indiana University and Purdue University — both saw the 2018 college baseball season come to a close at the NCAA Regional level.

Minnesota and Ohio State were the other two conference schools to get an NCAA bid.

The Chris Lemonis-coached Hoosiers (40-19) went 2-2 at the Austin (Texas) Regional.

Coach Mark Wasikowski’s Boilermakers (38-21) went 1-2 at the Chapel Hill Regional.

Once again, Tracy Archuleta took the University of Southern Indiana (36-23) in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament. A national champion in 2010 and 2014, the Screaming Eagles went 0-2 in Cary, N.C., this time.

At the NCAA D-III level, Lance Marshall’s Franklin College team (39-5) and Jake Martin’s Wabash College (32-17) squad both advanced to regional tournaments before bowing out.

Five coaches — Kip McWilliams of Indiana Tech (44-21), Rich Benjamin of Indiana Wesleyan University (37-20), Ben Reel of Indiana University Southeast (41-14), Todd Bacon of Marian University (24-27) and Kyle Gould Taylor University (44-16) — took their teams to the NAIA Opening Round before they were eliminated from postseason play.

Gary Vaught retired after 24 seasons as head coach at the University of Indianapolis.

Indiana University Kokomo (coached by Matt Howard) and Ivy Tech Community College (coached by Lance Hershberger) had their first seasons.

Here is a 2018 wrap-up for all 38 college baseball programs in Indiana:

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL

2018

NCAA Division I

Ball State Cardinals (32-26, 17-10 Mid-American Conference): Head coach Rich Maloney (13th overall season).

BSU went 1-2 in the MAC tournament at Avon, Ohio.

Drey Jameson was named MAC Pitcher of the Year and an all-MAC first-teamer as well as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Pitcher John Baker, shortstop Noah Powell and outfielder Jeff Riedel made the all-MAC second team.

Right-hander Evan Marquardt (Reds) was selected in 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Butler Bulldogs (34-20, 9-8 Big East Conference): Head coach Dave Schrage (second season).

The Dogs went 1-2 at the Big East tournament in Mason, Ohio.

Pitcher Ryan Pepiot, shortstop Michael Hartnagel and outfielder Gehrig Parker were chosen to the all-Big East first team with outfielder Tyler Houston and infielder/pitcher Garrett Christman on the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Evansville Purple Aces (12-39, 3-18 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Wes Carroll (eighth season).

UE went 0-2 at the MVC tournament in Dallas.

Outfielder Troy Beilsmith was chosen for the all-MVC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Fort Wayne Mastodons (11-37, 7-23 Summit League): Head coach Bobby Pierce (10th season).

Utility player Shannon Baker and first baseman Travis Upp were named to the all-Summit second team.

This summer, the school changes its name to Purdue Fort Wayne and the colors go from blue and white to black and gold.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Hoosiers (40-19, 14-9 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Chris Lemonis (fourth season).

IU went 1-2 at the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Outfielder Matt Gorski, starting pitcher Jonathan Stiever and utility player Matt Lloyd were named to the all-Big Ten first team. Starting pitcher Pauly Milto and designated hitter Scotty Bradley made the second team, outfielder Logan Sowers the third team and second baseman Drew Ashley the all-freshman team.

Stiever (White Sox), Sowers (White Sox), Tim Herrin (Indians) and Luke Miller (Phillies) were selected MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana State Sycamores (31-24, 11-10 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Mitch Hannahs (fifth season).

ISU went 2-2 in the MVC tournament.

Third baseman Jake Means was named to the all-MVC first team, first baseman Dane Giesler, starting pitcher Tyler Ward the second team and Means and second baseman Jarrod Watkins the all-defensive team.

Right-hander Ethan Larrison (Diamondbacks) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-30, 12-18 Atlantic Coast Conference): Head coach Mik Aoki (eighth season).

ND went 0-2 at the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C.

Second baseman Nick Podkul and third baseman Matt Vierling was named to the all-ACC second team and outfielder Eric Gilgenbach the third team.

Podkul (Blue Jays), Vierling (Phillies) and shortstop Cole Daily (Nationals) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Boilermakers (38-21, 17-6 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Mark Wasikowski (second season).

The Boilers enjoyed 13-game win streak toward the end of the regular season and went 3-1 at the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Minnesota in the championship game.

Catcher Nick Dalesandro, first baseman Jacson McGowan, starting pitcher Tanner Andrews and relief pitcher Ross Learnard landed on the all-Big Ten third team and outfielder Ben Nisle and starting pitcher Trent Johnson on the all-freshman team.

Dalesandro (Diamondbacks), McGowan (Rays) and Andrews (Marlins) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Valparaiso Crusaders (19-34, 6-15 Horizon League): Head coach Brian Schmack (fifth season).

Valpo lost in an elimination game at the MVC tournament.

Outfielder Blake Billinger was chosen for the all-MVC first team while outfielder Giovanni Garbella and starting pitcher Jon Tieman earned honorable mention and Jayden Eggimann a spot on the all-defensive team.

Catcher Scott Kapers (Rangers) was selected in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

NCAA Division II

Indianapolis Greyhounds (31-23, 10-14 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Gary Vaught (24th season).

The Hounds went 3-2 at the GLVC tournament in Ozark, Mo., losing to Quincy in the championship game.

Designated hitter Dylan Jones, first baseman Storm Joop, outfielder Kyle Orloff and third baseman Hunter Waning were picked for the all-GLVC second team.

UIndy achieved their 16th 30-win season for Vaught, who retired after 24 seasons of leading the program. Assistant Al Ready was named as his replacement.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Oakland City Oaks (13-28): Head coach T-Ray Fletcher (24th season).

OCU played 25 games played in Indiana, including 17 at home.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (36-23, 15-9 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Tracy Archuleta (12th season).

After winning the Midwest Regional at Springfield, Ill., USI dropped D-II Championship games to Florida Southern and Southern New Hampshire.

Outfielder Drake McNamara was named Player of the Year and Bryce Krizan Freshman of the Year by the GLVC.

Catcher Logan Brown and utility player Nick Gobert also made the first team while second baseman Jacob Fleming and outfielder Buddy Johnson were named to the second team.

McNamara was also honored as Region Player of the Year by several sources and as All-American by ABCA, D2CCA and NWBCA.

Brown (Braves) was taken in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NCAA Division III

Anderson Ravens (25-20, 11-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Matt Bair (first season).

AU finished 3-2 in the HCAC tournament, bowing to Franklin in the championship game.

John Becker was honored as HCAC Pitcher of the Year. Besides Becker, shortstop Nick Butcher first team and second baseman Nick Jones made the all-HCAC first team, third baseman Jonathan Willoughby second team and outfielder/infielder Tommy Parker honorable mention. Becker and Butcher were chosen all-region by different groups.

See IndianaRBI Story HERE.

DePauw Tigers (11-26, 9-9 North Coast Athletic Conference): Head coach Blake Allen (second season).

Outfielder Charlie Patrick was chosen as NCAC Newcomer of the Year and all-NCAC second team. Pitcher Grant Rademacher also was chosen for the second team while honorable mention went to third baseman Noah Salasky and outfielder Collin Einertson.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Earlham Quakers (23-14, 7-10 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Steve Sakosits (eighth season).

Catcher/utility player Danny Dopp, outfielder/utility player Addison Robertson and pitcher Walter Talcott made the all-HCC second team and infielder Dre Davis received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Franklin Grizzlies (39-5, 17-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Lance Marshall (21st season).

The Griz beat Anderson in the HCAC tournament championship game then went 1-2 in the D-III Central Regional in Sauget, Ill.

Outfielder Ryan Bixler was named MVP and Marshall Coach of the Year by the HCAC. Other all-conference players were pitcher Christian Sullivan, catcher Alex Mis, first baseman Drew Naumovich, shortstop Sam Claycamp, third baseman Frank Podkul, outfielders Ryan Erlandson and Jarrod Smith, designated hitter Nick Wright on the first team, second baseman Brandt Pawley on the second team and pitcher Mitchell Caster receiving honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Hanover Panthers (8-25, 5-12 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Shayne Stock (sixth season).

Pitcher Garrett Zorb was named to the all-HCC first team, infielder Josh Meszaros to the second team and infielder Jack Shine honorable mention.

Manchester Spartans (20-22, 9-8 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Rick Espeset (20th season).

Outfielder Tyler LaFollette was picked for the all-HCC first team, pitcher Taylor Kopplin and outfielder Eric Knepper the second team and outfield/infielder Braxton Riley received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers (20-23, 10-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Jeff Jenkins (29th season).

Rose came in third place in the HCAC tournament.

Luke Buehler, an all-region second-team selection, was named all-HCAC first team, outfielder David Burnside second team and catcher/DH Conner Helbling honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Trine Thunder (19-21, 13-15 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association): Head coach Greg Perschke (17th season).

Catcher Kevin O’Malley was chosen for the all-MIAA first team and infielder Jacob Heller the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Wabash Little Giants (32-17, 10-8 North Shore Athletic Conference): Head coach Jake Martin (second season).

After winning the NCAC tournament, Wabash lost the Mideast Regional championship game to Wooster.

Pitcher Bryan Roberts made the all-NCAC first team, catcher Bryce Aldridge, second baseman Sean Roginski the second team and first baseman Jackson Blevins, shortstop Eric Chavez, outfielder Jared Wolfe and pitcher Zach Moffett the honorable mention list.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NAIA

Bethel Pilots (17-28, 8-19 Crossroads League): Head coach Seth Zartman (15th season).

The Dick Patterson Field at Jerry Jenkins Stadium inhabitants placed infielder/outfielder Luke Adams and outfielders Collin Affolder and Jesse Zepeda on the all-Crossroads honorable mention team and Zepeda and pitcher Josh King on the Gold Glove squad.

Calumet College of Saint Joseph Crimson Wave (13-41, 7-23 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Scott Nowakowski.

Goshen Maple Leafs (22-29, 12-15 Crossroads League): Head coach Alex Childers (sixth season).

A number of career and season record fell for the Leafs — Ryan Hartig (most games in a GC career with 210), Brad Stoltzfus (most career runs with 113 and tied for most career runs with 133), Ben Longacre (single-season highs of 49 runs and 22 doubles) and Colby Malson (10 saves).

Outfielders Hartig and Longacre and infielder/pitcher Malson were accorded honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team while infielder Stoltzfus was chosen for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Grace Lancers (9-33, 9-18 Crossroads League): Head coach Cam Screeton (second season).

After starting the season 0-17, Grace won four of its last six.

Pitcher David Anderson, infielder Austin Baker and third baseman Houston Haney received honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team.

Huntington Foresters (23-24, 16-10 Crossroads League): Head coach Mike Frame (34th season).

Outfielder Donovan Clark, second baseman Jamar Weaver and pitcher Connor West earned all-conference honorable mention Weaver was also selected for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana Tech Warriors (44-21, 24-4 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference): Head coach Kip McWilliams (11th season).

Tech lost the WHAC championship series to Madonna then went 2-2 in the Opening Round in Montgomery, Ala., losing to top-ranked Faulkner in the championship game.

First baseman Glen McClain was named Player of the Year and McWilliams Coach of the Year by the WHAC. Besides McClain, catcher Tighe Koehring made the first team while third baseman Matt Bandor and pitcher Jason Sterrett were selected for the second team.

McClain and Koehring were also chosen as NAIA second-team All-Americans.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (37-20, 20-6 Crossroads League): Head coach Rich Benjamin (third season).

IWU, the CL regular-season champions, went 0-2 in the Opening Round at Lawrenceville, Ga.

Outfielder Steven Busby, utility player Caleb Eder, pitcher Kyle Hall, catcher Brady West middle fielder Jordan Wharton and pitcher Jon Young made the all-conference first team, Wharton the Gold Glove team and pitchers Zee Breytenbach, David Corbin and Tim Olvaney honorable mention.

Benjamin was named CL Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars (31-21-1, 16-11 River States Conference): Head coach Matt Howard (first season).

In the first year of the program, IUK’s season concluded with a loss in the RSC tournament semifinals.

Renton Poole was named RSC Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Noah Etchison, outfielder Jared Heard and designated hitter Dalton Clarke made the second team and third baseman Caleb Matthews the Gold Glove team.

Honorable-mention NAIA All-American Poole (Rangers) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana University South Bend Titans (13-39, 8-22 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Doug Buysse (first season).

First baseman Tanner Wesp made the all-CCAC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Southeast Grenadiers (41-14, 23-4 River States Conference): Head coach Ben Reel (10th season).

IUS lost to Point Park in the RSC tournament championship game went 1-2 in the NAIA Opening Round in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Starting pitchers Brandon Nylin and Ryne Underwood, shortstop Richard Rodriguez, outfielder Nicholas Lugo and utility player Josh Beams were picked for the all-RSC first team, pitcher Andrew Yates the second team and Lugo, pitcher John Cecil and second baseman Reyni Olivero the Gold Glove team. Reel was named RSC Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Marian Knights (24-27, 14-12 Crossroads League): Head coach Todd Bacon (fifth season).

MU beat Huntington for the Crossroads League tournament title then went 0-2 in the NAIA Opening Round at Williamsburg, Ky.

Cody Earl was named CL Player of the Year and honorable-mention NAIA All-American. Infielder Maverick Bacon was also an all-Crossroads first-teamer while infielder Leo Lopez, pitcher/outfielder Zack St. Pierre and pitcher/infielder Reese Willis garnered honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Northwest Pride (18-25, 8-19 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Dave Griffin (second season).

Kyle Freel was selected GLIAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year while catcher Hunter Thorn and pitcher Chad Patrick earned all-conference honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Saint Francis Cougars (16-38, 9-17 Crossroads League): Head coach Greg Roberts (14th season).

Pitcher Noah Freimuth and infielders Tyler Prince and Keaton Sullivan earned all-Crossroads honorable mention.

Taylor Trojans (44-16, 20-7 Crossroads League): Head coach Kyle Gould (14th season).

An Opening Round host, Taylor went 1-2 in the event at Winterholter Field.

Pitcher Matt Patton was named CL Pitcher of the Year and an second-team NAIA All-American.

Besides Patton, all-Crossroads first-teamer were pitcher/first baseman Andrew Kennedy, infielder Josh Lane, infielder Nathan Targgart, pitcher Mitch Ubelhor, catcher/outfielder Tanner Watson and outfielder Wyatt Whitman with Watson, Whitman and pitcher/infielder Brett Lawson on the Gold Glove team and utility player Jared Adkins, pitcher Clay Riggins and outfielder Sam Wiese getting honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Junior College

Ancilla Chargers (3-28, 2-22 Michigan Community College Athletic Association): Head coach Joe Yonto.

Ivy Tech Northeast Titans (25-18): Head coach Lance Hershberger (first season).

In the first year of the program, Ivy Tech finished the season with just 14 on the roster.

Catcher Tyler Rickert made the NJCAA Region 12 Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE, HERE & HERE.

Vincennes Trailblazers (19-27): Head coach Chris Barney (10th season).

After a 1-8 start, VU won three of its last five.

BASEBALLONDIRT

IU, Purdue bow out in D-I regionals; Indiana’s 36 other college baseball teams wrap up 2018 season

RBILOGOSMALL copy

By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

The state’s two Big Ten schools — Indiana University and Purdue University — both saw the 2018 college baseball season come to a close at the NCAA Regional level.

Minnesota and Ohio State were the other two conference schools to get an NCAA bid.

The Chris Lemonis-coached Hoosiers (40-19) went 2-2 at the Austin (Texas) Regional.

Coach Mark Wasikowski’s Boilermakers (38-21) went 1-2 at the Chapel Hill Regional.

Once again, Tracy Archuleta took the University of Southern Indiana (36-23) in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament. A national champion in 2010 and 2014, the Screaming Eagles went 0-2 in Cary, N.C., this time.

At the NCAA D-III level, Lance Marshall’s Franklin College team (39-5) and Jake Martin’s Wabash College (32-17) squad both advanced to regional tournaments before bowing out.

Five coaches — Kip McWilliams of Indiana Tech (44-21), Rich Benjamin of Indiana Wesleyan University (37-20), Ben Reel of Indiana University Southeast (41-14), Todd Bacon of Marian University (24-27) and Kyle Gould Taylor University (44-16) — took their teams to the NAIA Opening Round before they were eliminated from postseason play.

Gary Vaught retired after 24 seasons as head coach at the University of Indianapolis.

Indiana University Kokomo (coached by Matt Howard) and Ivy Tech Community College (coached by Lance Hershberger) had their first seasons.

Here is a 2018 wrap-up for all 38 college baseball programs in Indiana:

INDIANA COLLEGE BASEBALL

2018

NCAA Division I

Ball State Cardinals (32-26, 17-10 Mid-American Conference): Head coach Rich Maloney (13th overall season).

BSU went 1-2 in the MAC tournament at Avon, Ohio.

Drey Jameson was named MAC Pitcher of the Year and an all-MAC first-teamer as well as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Pitcher John Baker, shortstop Noah Powell and outfielder Jeff Riedel made the all-MAC second team.

Right-hander Evan Marquardt (Reds) was selected in 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Butler Bulldogs (34-20, 9-8 Big East Conference): Head coach Dave Schrage (second season).

The Dogs went 1-2 at the Big East tournament in Mason, Ohio.

Pitcher Ryan Pepiot, shortstop Michael Hartnagel and outfielder Gehrig Parker were chosen to the all-Big East first team with outfielder Tyler Houston and infielder/pitcher Garrett Christman on the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Evansville Purple Aces (12-39, 3-18 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Wes Carroll (eighth season).

UE went 0-2 at the MVC tournament in Dallas.

Outfielder Troy Beilsmith was chosen for the all-MVC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Fort Wayne Mastodons (11-37, 7-23 Summit League): Head coach Bobby Pierce (10th season).

Utility player Shannon Baker and first baseman Travis Upp were named to the all-Summit second team.

This summer, the school changes its name to Purdue Fort Wayne and the colors go from blue and white to black and gold.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Hoosiers (40-19, 14-9 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Chris Lemonis (fourth season).

IU went 1-2 at the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

Outfielder Matt Gorski, starting pitcher Jonathan Stiever and utility player Matt Lloyd were named to the all-Big Ten first team. Starting pitcher Pauly Milto and designated hitter Scotty Bradley made the second team, outfielder Logan Sowers the third team and second baseman Drew Ashley the all-freshman team.

Stiever (White Sox), Sowers (White Sox), Tim Herrin (Indians) and Luke Miller (Phillies) were selected MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana State Sycamores (31-24, 11-10 Missouri Valley Conference): Head coach Mitch Hannahs (fifth season).

ISU went 2-2 in the MVC tournament.

Third baseman Jake Means was named to the all-MVC first team, first baseman Dane Giesler, starting pitcher Tyler Ward the second team and Means and second baseman Jarrod Watkins the all-defensive team.

Right-hander Ethan Larrison (Diamondbacks) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (24-30, 12-18 Atlantic Coast Conference): Head coach Mik Aoki (eighth season).

ND went 0-2 at the ACC tournament in Durham, N.C.

Second baseman Nick Podkul and third baseman Matt Vierling was named to the all-ACC second team and outfielder Eric Gilgenbach the third team.

Podkul (Blue Jays), Vierling (Phillies) and shortstop Cole Daily (Nationals) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Boilermakers (38-21, 17-6 Big Ten Conference): Head coach Mark Wasikowski (second season).

The Boilers enjoyed 13-game win streak toward the end of the regular season and went 3-1 at the Big Ten Tournament, losing to Minnesota in the championship game.

Catcher Nick Dalesandro, first baseman Jacson McGowan, starting pitcher Tanner Andrews and relief pitcher Ross Learnard landed on the all-Big Ten third team and outfielder Ben Nisle and starting pitcher Trent Johnson on the all-freshman team.

Dalesandro (Diamondbacks), McGowan (Rays) and Andrews (Marlins) were chosen in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Valparaiso Crusaders (19-34, 6-15 Horizon League): Head coach Brian Schmack (fifth season).

Valpo lost in an elimination game at the MVC tournament.

Outfielder Blake Billinger was chosen for the all-MVC first team while outfielder Giovanni Garbella and starting pitcher Jon Tieman earned honorable mention and Jayden Eggimann a spot on the all-defensive team.

Catcher Scott Kapers (Rangers) was selected in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

NCAA Division II

Indianapolis Greyhounds (31-23, 10-14 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Gary Vaught (24th season).

The Hounds went 3-2 at the GLVC tournament in Ozark, Mo., losing to Quincy in the championship game.

Designated hitter Dylan Jones, first baseman Storm Joop, outfielder Kyle Orloff and third baseman Hunter Waning were picked for the all-GLVC second team.

UIndy achieved their 16th 30-win season for Vaught, who retired after 24 seasons of leading the program. Assistant Al Ready was named as his replacement.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Oakland City Oaks (13-28): Head coach T-Ray Fletcher (24th season).

OCU played 25 games played in Indiana, including 17 at home.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles (36-23, 15-9 Great Lakes Valley Conference): Head coach Tracy Archuleta (12th season).

After winning the Midwest Regional at Springfield, Ill., USI dropped D-II Championship games to Florida Southern and Southern New Hampshire.

Outfielder Drake McNamara was named Player of the Year and Bryce Krizan Freshman of the Year by the GLVC.

Catcher Logan Brown and utility player Nick Gobert also made the first team while second baseman Jacob Fleming and outfielder Buddy Johnson were named to the second team.

McNamara was also honored as Region Player of the Year by several sources and as All-American by ABCA, D2CCA and NWBCA.

Brown (Braves) was taken in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NCAA Division III

Anderson Ravens (25-20, 11-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Matt Bair (first season).

AU finished 3-2 in the HCAC tournament, bowing to Franklin in the championship game.

John Becker was honored as HCAC Pitcher of the Year. Besides Becker, shortstop Nick Butcher first team and second baseman Nick Jones made the all-HCAC first team, third baseman Jonathan Willoughby second team and outfielder/infielder Tommy Parker honorable mention. Becker and Butcher were chosen all-region by different groups.

See IndianaRBI Story HERE.

DePauw Tigers (11-26, 9-9 North Coast Athletic Conference): Head coach Blake Allen (second season).

Outfielder Charlie Patrick was chosen as NCAC Newcomer of the Year and all-NCAC second team. Pitcher Grant Rademacher also was chosen for the second team while honorable mention went to third baseman Noah Salasky and outfielder Collin Einertson.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Earlham Quakers (23-14, 7-10 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Steve Sakosits (eighth season).

Catcher/utility player Danny Dopp, outfielder/utility player Addison Robertson and pitcher Walter Talcott made the all-HCC second team and infielder Dre Davis received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Franklin Grizzlies (39-5, 17-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Lance Marshall (21st season).

The Griz beat Anderson in the HCAC tournament championship game then went 1-2 in the D-III Central Regional in Sauget, Ill.

Outfielder Ryan Bixler was named MVP and Marshall Coach of the Year by the HCAC. Other all-conference players were pitcher Christian Sullivan, catcher Alex Mis, first baseman Drew Naumovich, shortstop Sam Claycamp, third baseman Frank Podkul, outfielders Ryan Erlandson and Jarrod Smith, designated hitter Nick Wright on the first team, second baseman Brandt Pawley on the second team and pitcher Mitchell Caster receiving honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Hanover Panthers (8-25, 5-12 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Shayne Stock (sixth season).

Pitcher Garrett Zorb was named to the all-HCC first team, infielder Josh Meszaros to the second team and infielder Jack Shine honorable mention.

Manchester Spartans (20-22, 9-8 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Rick Espeset (20th season).

Outfielder Tyler LaFollette was picked for the all-HCC first team, pitcher Taylor Kopplin and outfielder Eric Knepper the second team and outfield/infielder Braxton Riley received honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers (20-23, 10-7 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Jeff Jenkins (29th season).

Rose came in third place in the HCAC tournament.

Luke Buehler, an all-region second-team selection, was named all-HCAC first team, outfielder David Burnside second team and catcher/DH Conner Helbling honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Trine Thunder (19-21, 13-15 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association): Head coach Greg Perschke (17th season).

Catcher Kevin O’Malley was chosen for the all-MIAA first team and infielder Jacob Heller the second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Wabash Little Giants (32-17, 10-8 North Shore Athletic Conference): Head coach Jake Martin (second season).

After winning the NCAC tournament, Wabash lost the Mideast Regional championship game to Wooster.

Pitcher Bryan Roberts made the all-NCAC first team, catcher Bryce Aldridge, second baseman Sean Roginski the second team and first baseman Jackson Blevins, shortstop Eric Chavez, outfielder Jared Wolfe and pitcher Zach Moffett the honorable mention list.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

NAIA

Bethel Pilots (17-28, 8-19 Crossroads League): Head coach Seth Zartman (15th season).

The Dick Patterson Field at Jerry Jenkins Stadium inhabitants placed infielder/outfielder Luke Adams and outfielders Collin Affolder and Jesse Zepeda on the all-Crossroads honorable mention team and Zepeda and pitcher Josh King on the Gold Glove squad.

Calumet College of Saint Joseph Crimson Wave (13-41, 7-23 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Scott Nowakowski.

Goshen Maple Leafs (22-29, 12-15 Crossroads League): Head coach Alex Childers (sixth season).

A number of career and season record fell for the Leafs — Ryan Hartig (most games in a GC career with 210), Brad Stoltzfus (most career runs with 113 and tied for most career runs with 133), Ben Longacre (single-season highs of 49 runs and 22 doubles) and Colby Malson (10 saves).

Outfielders Hartig and Longacre and infielder/pitcher Malson were accorded honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team while infielder Stoltzfus was chosen for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Grace Lancers (9-33, 9-18 Crossroads League): Head coach Cam Screeton (second season).

After starting the season 0-17, Grace won four of its last six.

Pitcher David Anderson, infielder Austin Baker and third baseman Houston Haney received honorable mention on the all-Crossroads team.

Huntington Foresters (23-24, 16-10 Crossroads League): Head coach Mike Frame (34th season).

Outfielder Donovan Clark, second baseman Jamar Weaver and pitcher Connor West earned all-conference honorable mention Weaver was also selected for the Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana Tech Warriors (44-21, 24-4 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference): Head coach Kip McWilliams (11th season).

Tech lost the WHAC championship series to Madonna then went 2-2 in the Opening Round in Montgomery, Ala., losing to top-ranked Faulkner in the championship game.

First baseman Glen McClain was named Player of the Year and McWilliams Coach of the Year by the WHAC. Besides McClain, catcher Tighe Koehring made the first team while third baseman Matt Bandor and pitcher Jason Sterrett were selected for the second team.

McClain and Koehring were also chosen as NAIA second-team All-Americans.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (37-20, 20-6 Crossroads League): Head coach Rich Benjamin (third season).

IWU, the CL regular-season champions, went 0-2 in the Opening Round at Lawrenceville, Ga.

Outfielder Steven Busby, utility player Caleb Eder, pitcher Kyle Hall, catcher Brady West middle fielder Jordan Wharton and pitcher Jon Young made the all-conference first team, Wharton the Gold Glove team and pitchers Zee Breytenbach, David Corbin and Tim Olvaney honorable mention.

Benjamin was named CL Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Kokomo Cougars (31-21-1, 16-11 River States Conference): Head coach Matt Howard (first season).

In the first year of the program, IUK’s season concluded with a loss in the RSC tournament semifinals.

Renton Poole was named RSC Pitcher of the Year. Catcher Noah Etchison, outfielder Jared Heard and designated hitter Dalton Clarke made the second team and third baseman Caleb Matthews the Gold Glove team.

Honorable-mention NAIA All-American Poole (Rangers) was picked in the MLB Draft.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE & HERE.

Indiana University South Bend Titans (13-39, 8-22 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Doug Buysse (first season).

First baseman Tanner Wesp made the all-CCAC second team.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Indiana University Southeast Grenadiers (41-14, 23-4 River States Conference): Head coach Ben Reel (10th season).

IUS lost to Point Park in the RSC tournament championship game went 1-2 in the NAIA Opening Round in Hattiesburg, Miss.

Starting pitchers Brandon Nylin and Ryne Underwood, shortstop Richard Rodriguez, outfielder Nicholas Lugo and utility player Josh Beams were picked for the all-RSC first team, pitcher Andrew Yates the second team and Lugo, pitcher John Cecil and second baseman Reyni Olivero the Gold Glove team. Reel was named RSC Coach of the Year.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Marian Knights (24-27, 14-12 Crossroads League): Head coach Todd Bacon (fifth season).

MU beat Huntington for the Crossroads League tournament title then went 0-2 in the NAIA Opening Round at Williamsburg, Ky.

Cody Earl was named CL Player of the Year and honorable-mention NAIA All-American. Infielder Maverick Bacon was also an all-Crossroads first-teamer while infielder Leo Lopez, pitcher/outfielder Zack St. Pierre and pitcher/infielder Reese Willis garnered honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Purdue Northwest Pride (18-25, 8-19 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference): Head coach Dave Griffin (second season).

Kyle Freel was selected GLIAC Freshman Pitcher of the Year while catcher Hunter Thorn and pitcher Chad Patrick earned all-conference honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Saint Francis Cougars (16-38, 9-17 Crossroads League): Head coach Greg Roberts (14th season).

Pitcher Noah Freimuth and infielders Tyler Prince and Keaton Sullivan earned all-Crossroads honorable mention.

Taylor Trojans (44-16, 20-7 Crossroads League): Head coach Kyle Gould (14th season).

An Opening Round host, Taylor went 1-2 in the event at Winterholter Field.

Pitcher Matt Patton was named CL Pitcher of the Year and an second-team NAIA All-American.

Besides Patton, all-Crossroads first-teamer were pitcher/first baseman Andrew Kennedy, infielder Josh Lane, infielder Nathan Targgart, pitcher Mitch Ubelhor, catcher/outfielder Tanner Watson and outfielder Wyatt Whitman with Watson, Whitman and pitcher/infielder Brett Lawson on the Gold Glove team and utility player Jared Adkins, pitcher Clay Riggins and outfielder Sam Wiese getting honorable mention.

See IndianaRBI story HERE.

Junior College

Ancilla Chargers (3-28, 2-22 Michigan Community College Athletic Association): Head coach Joe Yonto.

Ivy Tech Northeast Titans (25-18): Head coach Lance Hershberger (first season).

In the first year of the program, Ivy Tech finished the season with just 14 on the roster.

Catcher Tyler Rickert made the NJCAA Region 12 Gold Glove team.

See IndianaRBI stories HERE, HERE & HERE.

Vincennes Trailblazers (19-27): Head coach Chris Barney (10th season).

After a 1-8 start, VU won three of its last five.

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Isaacs in charge of a baseball ‘brotherhood’ with Lakeland Lakers

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Banding together as baseball brothers, the Lakeland High School program has enjoyed a turnaround in two seasons with Michael Isaacs as head coach.

“We call ourselves a brotherhood,” says Isaacs. “We’ve got a group of young men to believe in themselves and believe in each other.

“Our group is pretty loose. We’re not wound tight. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles the last couple years.”

The Lakers won a combined six games in 2015 and 2016. The first season under Isaacs (2017), Lakeland posted 10 victories.

Heading into three straight Northeast Corner Conference games — Tuesday vs. Hamilton, Wednesday at Churubusco and Thursday at Garrett — the 2018 LaGrange County-based Lakers were 16-5 and with two NECC setbacks tied in the loss column tied atop the standings with Angola.

The rest of the conference includes Central Noble, Eastside, Fairfield, Fremont, Prairie Heights, West Noble and Westview. Each team plays the other once and there is a midseason blind-draw tournament. Westview topped the Lakers 5-2 in the championship game this spring.

Lakeland is in the seven-team IHSAA Class 3A Lakeland Sectional along with Angola, Fairfield, NorthWood, Tippecanoe Valley, Wawasee and West Noble.

The Lakers play their home games on-campus. The field has received upgrades in recent seasons of new lights and re-worked dugouts.

There are 21 players in the Lakeland program, with some rotating between varsity and junior varsity as needed.

Two Lakers seniors have made college commitments — right-handed pitcher/first baseman Drew Grossman (Indiana Tech) and first baseman/designated hitter Tristan Witham (Cincinnati Christian). Juniors with college baseball aspirations are shortstop/right-handed pitcher Hunter Frost and catcher Kole Miller.

All three of Michael Isaacs’ sons are involved with the program. Oldest boy Britain, who was a Lakers catcher, is now an assistant coach. Then there’s senior Nolan and freshman Colton. The latter has rotated in enough to earn his letter in his first year of high school.

Isaacs’ other assistants are Todd Miller, Kevin Witham and Aaron Pieri.

A 1987 East Noble graduate, Michael Isaacs played high school baseball for coach Steve Nelson.

After going to Taylor University in Upland, Ind., to play football, he transferred to the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, with the idea of playing baseball. But that was the year the Saints temporarily dropped the sport.

Isaacs coached in the Noble/LaGrange Little League out of high school then took about a decade off and got back in when his sons came along.

Besides the Little League, which serves players ages 6 through junior high, some Lakeland players are involved with travel ball organizations such as Hitters Edge and the Indiana Chargers.

The 2018 season marks the second season for pitch count rules in IHSAA-sanctioned games (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).

“At first, I was very hesitant about it,” says Isaacs. “But then it was not that big a deal. We have mindset for the week of who we’re going to pitch how much we’re going to pitch them. It’s worked out pretty good.

“(The rule) makes you develop four or five pitchers which is good for everybody.”

With teams counting pitches, Isaacs has seen a change in the game. Instead of a pitcher using extra pitches trying to get strikeouts, he’s seen some of them aim for efficiency.

“There’s more of an emphasis on putting the ball in play and letting the defense do the work,” says Isaacs. “It’s something we’re trying to beat into (our pitchers’) heads.”

If Isaacs could change anything about Indiana high school baseball, he would tweak the class structure.

“Personally, I think the private schools should be separate,” says Isaacs, who coaches at a public school. “Now you’re tied to a class because of your size. I’d have public school divisions and the private schools could maybe a big division and small division.”

Isaacs is not an educator. He works in the recreational vehicle industry.  He is a mill room manager for Jayco’s Starcraft division in Topeka, Ind.

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Michael Isaacs (right) bumps fists with oldest son Britain Isaacs during a 2017 Lakeland High School baseball game. Michael Isaacs is in his second season as Lakers head coach in 2018. Britain is one of his assistants.

 

 

Hard work, trust have McClain, teammates excelling for Indiana Tech

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Glen McClain’s baseball journey has taken him outside northeast Indiana and back.

Since returning, he has thrived on a culture of work and trust make a major impact at Indiana Institute of Technology.

“We have a really good group of guys who like to work,” says McClain, a redshirt junior first baseman/catcher who graduated from Fremont High School and went to NCAA Division I Xavier University in Cincinnati before transferring to NAIA Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. “It’s great when you can text someone and say ‘you want to go hit some ground balls’ and they’re down. I’d say that’s the greatest contributor.”

McClain expresses thanks for those around him.

“I have a great coaching staff behind me that’s always willing to put in extra work with me,” says McClain. “We have a really good group of guys who like to work.

“I have a really good support system. My mom (Debby) is always helping me out whenever I need something.”

With the Warriors, it’s a matter of believing in one another.

“We all just trust each other,” says McClain. “There’s never a doubt. If I make an error or have a bad at-bat, it’s never in the back of my mind that maybe my coaches or teammates are not going to me.

“I know if I mess up, the next person is going to get it done.”

On Tuesday, April 24 at Parkview Field in downtown Fort Wayne, the 22-year-old right-handed hitter got it done with his bat and legs. He went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in the Warriors’ 5-4 win against crosstown rival Saint Francis.

McClain produced a one-out double (moved to third base on an error) and scored the game-tying run in the fifth inning then stroked a two-out single, stole second base and scored the go-ahead run on senior catcher Tighe Koehring’s single in the seventh inning.

Heading into Wednesday’s scheduled home game against Manchester, McClain was leading Tech (32-17) in batting average (.423), runs batted in (43), hits (63) and triples (4), tied for first in runs scored (42) and was second in home runs (8) and doubles (10). In 149 at-bats, he only had 12 strikeouts. He was also fielding at a .987 clip with 274 putouts, 15 double plays and four errors.

In 2017, McClain started 58 times at first base and set a single-season school record with 101 hits while hitting .455 with nine homers, five triples, 17 doubles and 71 RBI. He was second-team NAIA All-American and Gold Glove winner and a CoSIDA Academic All-American.

In 2016, McClain started 59 games at first base and hit .334 with two homers, three triples, 12 doubles, 33 RBIs while earning honorable mention on the all-Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference team.

“Glen is an amazing player, a great teammate,” says Tech head coach Kip McWilliams. “He understands baseball and the approach. But I can’t speak enough about what kind of person he is. He’s got high character, he’s trustworthy, relatable and responsible. He holds himself accountable as well as his teammates.

“When he came to us three years ago, he was really mature for his age and carried himself with great poise on the field.”

McWilliams recruited McClain when the player was at Fremont. When McClain was released from his scholarship at Xavier, he came highly-recommended by former Musketeers coach and friend of McWilliams, Scott Googins.

“We called Scott and he said he’d be a great player for you,” says McWilliams. “We were very happy to have him.”

McClain went to Xavier as a catcher and wound up having surgery on his right knee, right shoulder and right wrist.

“My body kind of fell apart on me,” says McClain. “I lucked out. Tech was willing to give me an opportunity to kind of bounce back.”

McClain, who is in graduate school working toward his MBA in management after earning a business administration degree with a concentration in sports management, has one year of eligibility remaining.

If he is not selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June, McClain says he plans to return to Tech to play and complete his MBA.

McClain credits his coaches at Fremont — Eagles head coach Justin Bock and assistant Chad Baker — with their role in his development.

“They helped me understand my true ability,” says McClain. “I was pretty raw in high school. They really helped me refine.

“I couldn’t hit the ball the other way very well, then my sophomore, junior and senior year I was able to drive the ball the other way.”

Travel baseball experiences came with the Mike Hinga-coached Kalamazoo Maroons. Kalamazoo is only about 75 minutes from Fremont.

While Indiana is in the name of the school, Tech’s 2018 roster has players from a dozen different states plus Canada and The Bahamas.

“It’s actually really cool,” says McClain. “We have a lot of kids from California. They add their own swagger to the team. I love the way (San Francisco’s) Dante (Biagini) plays. He’s super intense. I’m different. I’m more of a relaxed kind of quiet. I’m going to keep my composure no matter what’s going on.”

At one point last season, McClain looked up and three-quarters of the infield was from “Cali.”

“I was looking around going, I’m the only Indiana kid on the infield right now,” says McClain. “It’s fun.”

The Warriors are coming down the home stretch of the 2018 regular season. After the Manchester game, there’s a big three-game series at Siena Heights Friday and Saturday, April 28-29 and a home game against Cleary Tuesday, May 1 before the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament May 3-8.

A sweep against Siena Heights gives Tech the regular-season WHAC title and an automatic NAIA tournament bid.

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Glen McClain, a Fremont High School graduate, is a redshirt junior first baseman and leader of the 2018 Indiana Tech baseball team. (Indiana Tech Photo)

 

Benjamin finds his baseball fit at Indiana Wesleyan

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Rich Benjamin is not the same person who took up residence in Marion, Ind., as head baseball coach at Indiana Wesleyan University prior to the 2016 season.

“I didn’t realize — in a positive way — how much it would change me in two years,” says Benjamin. “I enjoy being around like-minded coaches who care more about the other coach in the room than their own sport.

“It’s been a great place to be a mentor, to be mentored and grow and develop in the profession.”

Benjamin came to IWU following eighth seasons at Judson University in Elgin, Ill., where his teams amassed 304 wins with three Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season titles, four CCAC tournament championships. The Eagles also earned five NAIA regional appearances and two National Christian College Athletic Association World Series berths. Near the end of his stay, Benjamin added athletic director to his Judson responsibilities.

He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tenn. (He played his last two college seasons there following two at Milligan College in eastern Tennessee).

From Martin Methodist, Benjamin became an assistant Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., before landing at Judson. He has extensive experience in coaching summer teams and working at camps and clinics.

Faced with multiple opportunities, Benjamin weighed his options and asked himself some questions before leaving Judson.

“What is the best fit for how I’m wired? What is the best fit for my family?,” says Benjamin, who is married to Casey and has a 5-year-old son in Ty. “Professionally, you do not want your job to cost your family more than what they’re benefitting from it.

“That’s always a delicate balance in the coaching profession.”

He recalls his initial meeting with Indiana Wesleyan athletic director and former Wildcats head baseball coach Mark DeMichael.

“I was blown away with the uniqueness of the environment,” says Benjamin of the NAIA member school. “It is a faith-based institution. It is not Christian in name only. The athletic department is founded on the Philippians 2 vision which — in short — means to be selfless. That was really attractive.”

Benjamin calls DeMichael one of the most-impressive leaders he’s ever been around.

“He really understands people, excellence and humility,” says Benjamin. “All the (IWU) coaches end up in his office at some point to use him as a sounding board for some of the cultural challenges that we are going through with our teams.

“He never tells you what to do. He lets you talk out loud. He asks really healthy open-ended questions and helps you find the answer you feel is the best solution for your program.”

During the interview process, Benjamin also learned from DeMichael about an institution with high academic and competitive standards. Every sport on campus had a combined grade-point average above 3.0 and the department winning percentage was in the top 15 in the nation.

“Here is an athletic department winning championships and killing it academically and they’re focused on people-first,” says Benjamin. “This is paradigm-shifting in college athletics. I was really attracted and wanted to be a part of it.

“Indiana Wesleyan is not one of those places where you can sell out in a couple areas to win games. You have to consider the social, academic and athletic sides of the person.

“We say, ‘if you build the person, the player will follow.’ You bring in a person and put them in a high-motored environment and you see them over their first 24 months. It’s a fun process to watch unfold because you have to do that part well.”

It’s all a matter of the right fit.

“Wherever you’re at, you have to recruit to your culture and the identity of your school, your resources,” says Benjamin. “We’re not fully-funded program (at IWU). Having to stretch dollars is the most-challenging aspect of the job.

“It’s also why we go after high financial-need students because they’ll get some government assistance or we go after high-academic students because they’re going to get a lot of academic aid.”

While attending the 2018 American Baseball Coaches Association Convention Jan. 4-7 in Indianapolis, Benjamin took the time to write in his journal about how he had performed with the knowledge he had gained since his first ABCA convention in 2004.

“It was humbling,” says Benjamin, noting some years were very good and some were not.

With the help of assistant coaches Kris Holtzieter (pitching coach and recruiting coordinator) and Drew Brantley (former Anderson University head coach, base-running/infield coach and assistant recruiting coordinator), Benjamin is looking for his players to grow from the start of the school year until the finish.

NAIA rules allow teams to be full-go for 24 weeks with a dead period between fall workouts (IWU was outdoors for about two months) and preseason training that allows coaches to be present for conditioning, strength training and team development without being able to coach baseball activities.

“That’s really healthy,” says Benjamin of the dead period. “There has to be a moment in which the player has space to go and figure out for himself the concepts you’ve been unpacking

“I’ve never had a great player that didn’t have a high motor to go take a lot of swings on their own and to find answers to the questions that have been exposed.”

To Benjamin, a coach is defined by someone who can help someone learn about themselves and the coach-player relationship works best when the athlete owns the process.

Mental training is also a part of what the Wildcats do.

“We realize your person can get in the way of your player and part of your person is your mental game and it’s your character,” says Benjamin. “We’ve all been around people who play above their skill because of their character and we’ve been around people who play who their skill because of their character.”

There are team values and goals and each player is asked to list three to five character areas they want to focus on.

“We’re able to use their list to interact with them about how they’re handling the performance level,” says Benjamin. “One of areas might be competitiveness or being fearless.

“If they get in the (batter’s) box and they have an unhealthy amount of fear or they’re not competitive or passive, they’re already beat,” says Benjamin. “If we can put guys in these scenarios each day and then talk about their person — those character values they want to grow in — you’re doing mental training right there.”

Benjamin’s 2016 Wildcats went 37-25-1 overall and 14-14 in the Crossroads League and followed that up with 27-30 and 12-15 in 2017.

Senior center fielder Brandon Shaffer (Albuquerque, N.M.) hit .348 with home runs and 39 runs batted in and 17 stolen bases made the 2017 all-Crossroads team. Freshman catcher/first baseman Brady West (Rockford, Ill.) hit .350 with 10 homers and was named CL Newcomer of the Year.

Honorable mention selections on the all-league squad were sophomore catcher Andrew Breytenbach (Palatine, Ill.) who hit .326 with 10 homers and 61 RBIs, sophomore right-handed reliever Kyle Hall (Chatham, Ill.), who went 3-1 with a 3.86 earned run average, and freshman right-handed starting pitcher Jon Young (Batavia, Ill.), who went 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA.

In addition, sophomore Caleb Eder (Jennings County High School graduate) hit .346 with eight homers and 40 runs driven in.

Indiana Wesleyan set four school records in 2017. The pitching staff racked up 379 strikeouts. On the offensive side, the Wildcats belted 68 home runs with 317 RBIs and a .478 slugging percentage.

The 2018 squad opens the season Feb. 9 against Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Benjamin considers Indiana and the adjoining states of Ohio and Michigan plus the Chicagoland area of Illinois to be fertile recruiting territory.

In comparing the two NAIA conferences where he has been a head coach — the Chicagoland Collegiate and Crossroads — Benjamin sees many similarities.

“Both conferences have a lot of coaches that coach for the right reason,” says Benjamin. “They are very professional in the way they interact with other teams, umpires, players and so forth. In a profession where you’re trying to build the person, it’s nice to be around other people who share the same vision.”

Besides Indiana Wesleyan, the Crossroads League features Bethel, Goshen, Grace, Huntington, Marian, Mt. Vernon Nazarene, Saint Francis, Spring Arbor and Taylor. All 10 schools are private.

Baseball-playing schools in the CCAC are Calumet of St. Joseph, Indiana University South Bend, Judson, Olivet Nazarene, Robert Morris, Roosevelt, St. Ambrose, St. Francis, Saint Xavier, Trinity Christian and Trinity International.

With IWU adding football (the first game is slated for Sept. 1, 2018 against Taylor), the whole athletic department has benefitted, including baseball. A $1.2 weight room has been added.

With the establishment of the football complex came a re-establishing of the dimensions and a brand new wall for the baseball field. A five-year plan includes other upgrades such as playing surface, backstop and fencing.

“Indiana Wesleyan has a vision for everything,” says Benjamin. “They are proactive. They think ahead.”

Looking back, Rich (who has a twin brother Bobby) grew up in Rhode Island and moved to Tennessee as he and his brother were turning 9.

Rich started playing baseball year-round.

“It was my escape. It was fun,” says Benjamin. “I had more passion for it than anybody else in my family.”

When he was 12 and 13, he attended the Doyle Baseball School in Orlando, Fla., and recalls his parents taking extra jobs to pay for his week-long immersion in the game.

“The Doyles (Denny, Brian and Blake) are very professional faith-based people,” says Benjamin. “They were the first people to share Christ with me. It became a very defining moment in my life. I didn’t realize it at the time. But looking back on it, it was certainly a game-changer.”

Bobby Benjamin is restaurant owner in Louisville, Ky. The twins have a stepsister named Kayla. Mother Janet is married to Gary Piper. Father Ben is married to Vicki.

With Casey’s parents, Ty can be spoiled by three sets of grandparents.

“As a 5-year-old boy in Indiana, he wants to be a farmer,” says Rich of Ty. “He’s a John Deere guy right now. That’s where his focus is. But he’ll pick up a bat. He’ll pick up a football. He enjoys jumping on this indoor trampoline.

“He certainly enjoys being around our team.”

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Rich Benjamin enters his third season as head baseball coach at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind., in 2018. (IWU Photo)

 

Hershberger pouring baseball passion into new Ivy Tech Northeast community college program

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Twice in a lifetime.

Lance Hershberger is starting another college baseball program in his native Fort Wayne.

Hershberger, who turns 62 Friday, June 9, built the Indiana Tech program from the ground up (1991-2003) and took the Warriors to multiple NAIA College World Series trips.

Now, Hershberger is heading up the new squad at Ivy Tech Northeast — the third community college baseball program in Indiana, following Vincennes University and Ancilla College. It also brings the number of Indiana college programs at all levels to 36.

Hershberger and his assistants — Connor Wilkins, Dru Sebastian, Todd Armstrong and and Mark Delagarza — are currently on the recruiting trail for the Ivy Tech Northeast Titans, which will field a team in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II in 2017-18. Teams are allowed to play 56 spring games with more contests in the fall.

Hershberger would like to carry about a 25 players the first year. That’s a minimum of four outfielders, three middle infielders, four corner infielders, three of four catchers and as many pitchers as he can get.

“If we get 100 kids in here for visits, we’ll meet our 25,” says Hershberger. “The excitement level’s there.”

As an NJCAA D-II school, Ivy Tech Northeast is eligible to provide athletic scholarships limited to tuition, books, fees, and course required supplies. The school is researching the possibility of joining a conference in the region.

Hershberger, who was inducted last weekend into the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association Hall of Fame and coaches the Summit City Sluggers 16U travel team which includes son Grant (daughter Maddie just graduated from Homestead High School), is educating folks about community college baseball.

“I think there’s really a place for a JUCO here in northern Indiana,” says Hershberger. “In Indiana there’s a big void of knowledge about junior college. A lot of players think it’s a step down (from NCAA Divisions I, II and II and NAIA).

“You go south and you go west and they understand what they’re about.”

Hershberger, a Wawasee Prepatory School and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne graduate (he also attended the University of Saint Francis) who has also coached high school ball at Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger and Whitko and with the Wildcat Baseball League, lists some of the main reasons a player chooses a junior college:

1. His grades weren’t good enough to go to a four-year school.

2. Maybe he was drafted and didn’t get the round or the money he wanted and doesn’t want to wait until after his junior year to get drafted again.

3. He’s not big enough yet or needs to work on his skills.

The top two objectives when Hershberger was flying high at Indiana Tech were compete for the national championships (during Hershberger’s tenure, the Warriors won 407 games and were NAIA World Series runner-up in 1998 and a fifth-place finisher in 2003 as well as a World Series participant in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 ) and send players on to the professional ranks.

While winning is important, development and getting a player ready for the next level will be the top priorities at Ivy Tech Northeast.

“Every program I run or am coaching for is going to compete we want to win,” says Hershbeger. “But we’re going to get kids ready.”

Hershberger (Kansas City Kansas), Wilkins (Jackson of Michigan) and Sebastian (Owens of Ohio) all played community college baseball. Hershberger is excited that Ivy Tech Northeast chancellor Jerrilee Mosier once worked at Allen Community College in Iola, Kan., which is in the same conference at KCK.

“She gets it,” says Hershberger of Mosier. “She knows what it takes.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right or I’m not in. You can be a great coach at the college level, but if you don’t have the resources to get players it doesn’t matter.”

State Representative Bob Morris has also helped make baseball at Ivy Tech Northeast a reality.

Hershberger notes all the ties to northeast Indiana with the Kankakee (Ill.) Community College team that won the 2017 NJCAA Division II World Series.

Assistant coach Bryce Shafer (Northfield High School) played for the Sluggers, Valparaiso University and in the Chicago Cubs organization. KCC’s 2017 roster included Logan Gallaway (Fort Wayne Bishop Luers), Noah Hoeffel (Fort Wayne Bishop Luers), Devin Peters (Churubusco), Pancho Luevano (West Noble), Waylon Richardson (West Noble) and Brennan Kelly (Southwood) plus Indiana products Benjamin Clevenger (Carmel) and Caleb Matthews (RoncallIi).

“We hope to keep some of (the local talent) home,” says Hershberger, “We would eventually like to recruit nationally, but I don’t think we can every forget that we are a community college.”

The NCAA D-I College World Series is slated for June 17-27/28. Hershberger promises that the eight teams in Omaha will have rosters with plenty of players from junior colleges.

Hershberger signed on at Indiana Tech in late July, meaning that it was too late in the recruiting cycle to bring in much talent and the first squad went 0-23.

“I think it better positioned starting out than Indiana Tech was,” says Hershberger. “People find that hard to believe because they look at the stadium down there (at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Anthony Road) which I designed. They see the end product.”

All that happened over time. When Indiana Tech was national runners-up in 1998, the Warrior Field had one set of bleachers behind a chain link backstop (most fans sat on the berm), wooden bleachers and the “press box” was a card table with scoreboard controller.

“There’s going to be bumps,” says Hershberger of the Ivy Tech Northeast program. “There’s going to be naysayers. Indiana Tech was the same way.

“(Baseball) put vibrancy into that school. We’re hoping to do it again.”

As he does with all his other baseball ventures, Hershberger is bringing passion and “ridiculous attention to detail.”

He has already been checking on the facilities at Ivy Tech Northeast’s North and South campuses, picked out “old school” green and white uniform designs, met with planners on a baseball stadium (the Titans are likely to play home games at Shoaff Park until a field can be constructed on the north campus behind the Innovation Center on Stellhorn Road), talked with local patrons about funding and on and on.

“I’m really busy,” says Hershberger. “I’m really tired. But it’s a good tired. I’m really fulfilling what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m involved in all kinds of baseball stuff in Fort Wayne.

“It’s what I do. I’m a baseball coach, a baseball guy.”

Besides getting Ivy Tech baseball up and running, he’s also the executive director of Community Impact Zone, a non-profit organization that is partnering with groups like Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana and the Euell Wilson Center bring the game to intercity kids at Fort Wayne’s Strike Zone Training Center, 4141 N. Clinton.

Ivy Tech will also do its indoor workouts at the facility.

“It’s a been a dream of mine for a long time, this urban initiative,” says Hershberger. “I don’t want to walk away from it right when I’m finally getting it going. I don’t want kids to limit their options or their horizons. I want them to look at baseball as a viable option for college and beyond.

Many area high schools have already volunteered to the Community Impact Zone instructors.

Hershberger is working with urban leaders to get young adults from the community to observe his coaches so they can take knowledge back to their neighborhoods and maybe rejuvenate local youth leagues.

“I love teaching the game,” says Hershberger.

He does that for players from college age on down to kindergartners.

Baseball. It’s what he does.

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Lance Hershberger has been involved in many baseball ventures in his hometown of Fort Wayne in his 62 years. The latest include the new Ivy Tech Northeast community college program along with Community Impact Zone. (Steve Krah Photo)