BY STEVE KRAH
Warren Dailey dons two different uniforms on most days during the spring.
One of them has a ball cap. The other has a badge.
Dailey enters his third season as head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School in Wabash, Ind., in 2019.
As a patrolman for the Marion Police Department working third shift, Dailey sometimes goes right from a game to the beat.
He efficiently juggles the two roles.
“I do what I can in the time that I have,” says Dailey, a former high school and college player.
Dailey is a 2001 graduate of Eastbrook High School in Marion, Ind., where he played for head coach Brian Abbott.
“He always cared about you as a person,” says Dailey of Abbott, who is now pitching coach at Huntington University and executive director of the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association. “That came first for him. I’ve grown to understand that. It’s probably even more important now than it was then.”
As a college player, Dailey spent one season at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne for head coach Billy Gernon (now head coach at Western Michigan University) and two at Indiana Wesleyan University for head coach Mark DeMichael (now IWU athletic director).
“(Gernon) was pretty hard core,” says Dailey. “He played for Bob Morgan (at Indiana University) and that’s where he got everything from. Of course, it was college and you were going from a child to an adult.”
DeMichael often coached 30 or more players and had just one assistant. Dailey still marvels at that.
“You need to surround yourself with plenty of good people,” says Dailey, whose 2019 Southwood staff includes Dalton Gentry, Cory Blocker, David Glickfield and E.J. Devarie.
Gentry (a Southwood graduate), Blocker and Glickfield are back for their third seasons with Dailey. Devarie is entering his first season.
Dailey was as assistant for two seasons at Eastbrook — one on the staff of Ben Irwin and one working with David Day. He spent one season as an assistant to Bengie Rodriguez at Madison-Grant before joining head coach Kris Holtzleiter at Southwood, beginning with the 2013 season. Holtzleiter is now an assistant at Indiana Wesleyan University.
During Dailey’s time on the staff, Southwood has produced three Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association all-stars — outfielder Jackson Blair (2014), pitcher Robbie Cole (2015) and first baseman Clay Hinrichsen (2016). Left-hander Brennan Kelly is on the baseball roster at Eastern Kentucky University.
Southwood (enrollment around 280) is a member of the Three Rivers Conference (with Maconaquah, Manchester, Northfield, North Miami, Peru, Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash and Whitko). TRC games are played on Mondays and Wednesdays with each team playing one another once to determine a champion. The Knights reigned as conference champions in 2015 (7-0) and 2016 (7-2 after Maconaquah and Peru joined the TRC).
“It’s an extremely competitive conference,” says Dailey. “There’s no holding back. You try to navigate the best you can with your pitching staff.”
Dailey says the last week of the conference season has often been crazy with an unexpected result tightening the race.
Southwood has been invited again to participate in the Fort Wayne TinCaps/Parkview Sports Medicine High School Baseball Series at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne. Wabash County Night is slated for Thursday, May 9 with Southwood taking on Wabash at 4:30 p.m., followed by Northfield vs. Manchester around 7.
Among non-conference opponents on Southwood’s schedule are Alexandria-Monroe, Blackford, Bluffton, Eastbrook, Eastern, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, Huntington North, Marion, Mississinewa, Oak Hill, Taylor and Western.
The Knights are part of an IHSAA Class 1A sectional grouping with Caston, North Miami, North White, Northfield, South Newton and West Central. Southwood has won four sectional championships — the last in 2014.
Multiple-sport athletes are the norm at Southwood. Dailey sees a handful of athletes at fall and winter baseball workouts.
“I encourage our guys to do as many sports as they’re able to,” says Dailey, who plans to approach Knights head boys basketball coach John Burrus soon about giving some of his pitchers some time to throw so March 11 (the first official preseason practice date) is not the first time they’ve touched a baseball in months.
Last winter, Southwood had a prolonged basketball run, finishing as 2018 Class 1A state runners-up. Neighboring Oak Hill, coached by Shane Edwards, started its baseball season a little later than originally scheduled after a Class 2A state championship run on the hardwood.
The Knights play their home baseball games on a field affectionately known as “The Launching Pad” for its smallish dimensions.
“It’s just a tiny field,” says Dailey. “The fences are not very far back. I’ve never measured them. I never wanted to put a number on it
“Hitters light up when they show up at our field. It holds more baseballs than it probably should.”
There are a fair number of home runs clubbed at the field, which has a pasture beyond left field and a storage barn down the right field line which sometimes creates a bit of a wind tunnel.
Dailey says the administration considered moving home plate back, but that meant re-doing the infield so the plan never gained any traction.
While there is no junior high baseball at Southwood (the idea has been kicked around), there is the Wabash Little League and Wabash Babe Ruth League prepping younger players.
The Babe Ruth League feeds three area high schools — Southwood, Northfield and Wabash. A few years ago, players were separated based on their high school affiliation and the high school head coach is responsible for finding the head head coach. For Southwood, that’s former Knights player Christian Dieter (who played for head coach Holtzeiter and assistant Dailey).
There are usually about six league teams — one or two for Southwood, two for Northfield and two or three for Wabash. There also some players from the surrounding area that will end up at Maconaquah, Manchester or Peru.
Zach Dials, a 2003 Southwood graduate, was selected in the 28th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of Kentucky. A right-handed pitcher, he was a first-team all-state selection as a senior and played at John A. Logan College before UK. He appeared in 157 professional games through 2010.
Warren and Kelly Dailey live in Sweetser, Ind., and have four children — Corbin (11), Brianna (8), Chase (6) and Knox (4).
Corbin, Knox, Brianna and Chase Dailey hang out with “The Colonel.” They are the children of Warren and Kelly Dailey. Warren Dailey is head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School in Wabash, Ind., and a patrolman with the Marian Police Department.
The Dailey family attends church (clockwise from left): Warren, Corbin, Knox, Kelly, Chase and Brianna. Warren Dailey is head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School in Wabash, Ind., and a patrolman with the Marian Police Department.
Kelly and Warren Dailey share a vacation moment. Warren Dailey is head baseball coach at Southwood Junior/Senior High School in Wabash, Ind., and a patrolman with the Marian Police Department.