By STEVE KRAH
Rick Cosgray heads into his 20th season as head baseball coach at Lebanon (Ind.) High School in 2019.
But not only does he lead the Tigers at the high school level, has has helped organize a feeder system that starts with players ages 5 to 12 at Lebanon Little League and includes the Lebanon Middle School Farm Club program.
“There’s a lot of communication with Little League reps,” says Cosgray. “We range from three to four teams at the middle school (with sixth, seventh and eighth graders). It’s kind of unique. We do not cut (at that level).”
Drawing 40 to 50 middle schoolers each year, the best 12 players are assigned to Eighth Grade Gold, the next to Seventh Grade Black with the others playing in junior league associated with the Little League. The junior league competes against other districts during the summer. The top players tend to play on various travel ball teams.
At Lebanon High School, Cosgray has been fielding three teams — varsity, junior varsity and freshmen or C-team. Most seasons, there are 30 to 35 players.
In recent years, the Tigers have sent players on to college baseball. Among those are right-handed pitchers Reid Schaller (Vanderbilt University) and Travis Herrin (Wabash Valley College) plus Jackson Bland (Anderson University), Nick Bland (Anderson University) and Caleb Myers (Marian University).
Schaller is now is the Washington Nationals system after being selected in the third round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Herrin has been in the Los Angeles Angels organization since being drafted in the 18th round in 2015.
Lebanon graduate Joe McCabe played at Lebanon and Purdue University and played briefly with the Minnesota Twins in 1964 and Washington Senators in 1965.
Righty Doug Jones went to Lebanon and Butler University and pitched 16 years in the big leagues, beginning in 1982.
Current Lebanon shortstop/right-hander Garrett Harker is verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati.
Lebanon (enrollment around 975) is a member of the Sagamore Athletic Conference (with Crawfordsville, Danville, Frankfort, North Montgomery, Southmont, Tri-West Hendricks and Western Boone). SAC games are played on Tuesdays and Thursdays with each team facing the other twice.
The Tigers are part of an IHSAA Class 3A sectional grouping with Crawfordsville, Frankfort, North Montgomery and Southmont. Lebanon has won 11 sectionals — the last in 2014.
Lebanon plays varsity home games at Memorial Park in Lebanon. JV and C-team contests are also played there if the varsity is idle. If not, game are played at Lebanon Middle School.
Cosgray’s coaching staff features Chris Coddington, Nathan Kincaid and Bob Adams with the varsity, Ryan Baldwin and Brad Bailey with the JV and Jared Long and Coty Edwards with the C-team.
A 1991 graduate of Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Ind., Cosgray played football for coach Mark Hay, basketball for coach Rick Snodgrass and baseball for coach Larry Crabb. He counts all of them among his mentors and he served on all their coaching staffs.
“Coach Crabb was always disciplined, but he was still able to make the game fun,” says Cosgray. “He had high expectations in terms of your character.”
Cosgray attended Purdue as a student and played one season of baseball at the University of Indianapolis before going back to the West Lafayette campus.
Before coming to Lebanon, he taught one year and coached football and basketball at Mishawaka then spent one season as head girls basketball coach (1997-98) at Elkhart Central and one season of basketball at Jay County.
Cosgray is now a health and physical education teacher at Lebanon Middle School.
Rick and Shannon Cosgray have been married 22 years and have two children. Daughter Whitney Cosgray is a senior and Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis and plans to be an educator. Son Drew Cosgray is a junior soccer and baseball athlete at Lebanon.
Rick Cosgray goes into his 20th season as head baseball coach at Lebanon (Ind.) High School in 2019.