By STEVE KRAH
Winchester (Ind.) Community High School won its first IHSAA sectional baseball title in 37 years on Memorial Day at Lapel.
After besting Frankton 3-0 May 25, the Golden Falcons topped Lapel 1-0 May 29 for the program’s second championship. The other came in 1986 with Bill Bush as head coach. He coached from 1971-2000 and had his No. 7 retired two weeks ago.
“It is a really big deal,” says Ken Hendrickson, a 1984 Winchester graduate who played for Bush and is in his fifth season as head coach and eighth on the Golden Falcons coaching staff. “Winchester had not won a sectional game (on the field) since 2008. We had a forfeit in the first round against Burris last year. I don’t count that because we didn’t earn that one.”
Winchester (14-11) is now preparing for a one-game Class 2A regional at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, June 3 against 23-7 Eastern (Greentown) on the turf at Logansport’s Jim Turner Field. It’s about a 2 1/2-hour bus ride from Winchester.
Hendrickson has coached three of Bush’s grandsons — Glenallen Anderson (Winchester Class of 2019), Will Anderson (Class of 2021) and McCormac Anderson (Class of 2026).
Glenallen Anderson, who pitched at Winchester, went on to play at Wilmington (Ohio) College. Former Golden Falcons center fielder Will Anderson played for the Muncie Post 19 Chiefs that won the 2022 Indiana American Legion state championship.
Aaron Anderson — father of Glenallen, Will and McCormac — is Hendrickson’s pitching coach. His other varsity assistants are Brian Cline and Bart Porfidio. Bradley Clark, Bryant Clark and Chandler Woodward guide the junior varsity as well as the seventh and eighth graders in the junior high program.
“That is imperative,” says Hendrickson of the feeder program that also gives varsity coaches a chance to meet future players and to instill their systems. “They get an idea of what they’re coming into and it really helps when they’re freshmen.”
There is also a local youth league that develops baseball talent.
Position players who have been in starting roles in 2023 include three seniors (first baseman Noah Heaton, right fielder Trey Pullins and second baseman-designated hitter Charlie Sauser), one junior (second baseman Brock Goforth), three sophomores (third baseman Justin Cox, catcher Cooper Hummel and left fielder Drayvin Whitehead) and two freshmen (shortstop Anderson and center fielder Aidan Weatherhead).
The pitching staff is led by three sophomore right-handers — Jace Allen (who tossed complete-game shutouts in the sectional against Frankton and Lapel), Whitehead and Cox and freshman lefty Landen Porfidio.
“Our pitching has been really good, but our strength has really been our defense,” says Hendrickson. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
The Golden Falcons have moved at tournament time in recent years. They have been part of the north (Sectional 40) since 2021. They were in the south (Sectional 41) 2016-19 after being in Sectional 40 in 2012-15 and Sectional 41 2008-21.
Winchester (enrollment around 400) is a member of the Tri-Eastern Conference (with Cambridge City Lincoln, Centerville, Hagerstown, Knightstown, Northeastern, Tri, Union City and Union County).
Besides Frankton and Lapel, Winchester’s sectional group includes Monroe Central, Muncie Burris and Wapahani.
“East central Indiana is big baseball country,” says Hendrickson.
Falcon Field — located in on-campus above the football field — is Winchester’s home diamond. It was built by Bush in the early 1970’s. The facility received a major upgrade a few years ago at the time the school got a new on-campus softball field.
“Our field is absolutely gorgeous,” says Hendrickson.
Coaches tend to maintenance.
“I enjoy working on our field,” says Hendrickson. “It’s very relaxing to me.
“Baseball coaches in general really take pride in their fields.”
Hendrickson has worked in the Randolph County Sheriff’s office for 36 years as is currently Chief Deputy after serving eight years as Sheriff.
Ken and Lisa Hendrickson will celebrate 27 years of marriage in September. Their son is 22-year-old Torin Hendrickson (Winchester Class of 2019), who played for his father.