His scholarship in hand, Cooper Trinkle could have coasted into his senior baseball season.

The Columbus North All-State infielder isn’t wired like that though. So he put in the time and effort to continue to make himself a better player.

“Cooper has set a new standard not only for the leadership we’re looking forward, but from a work-ethic standpoint,” North coach Ben McDaniel said. “He puts the work in, he stays late every day and gets more (batting) cuts in and takes more ground balls. He understands that if he misses a day, somebody else is working that day, and he doesn’t want anybody else to outwork him. He understands that he has a future beyond Columbus North, and he’s going to continue to push and strive for excellence.”

A four-year starter, Trinkle committed to the University of Evansville during his sophomore season. He came back last year and made All-State as a shortstop.

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But when the 2017 season began, Trinkle was back at second base, where spent the first two years of his high school career.

“I explained to him I thought that’s what’s best for the team,” McDaniel said. “Without any hesitation, Cooper accepted the logic. That just shows Cooper’s leadership and maturity, to do what’s best for the team.”

The move was precipitated by the return of junior shortstop Tyler Finke. Finke was injured in a collision with then-senior center fielder Canaan Baum in a game at Cathedral midway through last season, sustaining orbital fractures that sidelined him until the sectional.

Trinkle, who has bounced between second and short throughout his travel baseball career, said he doesn’t have a preference between the two.

“Right now, it’s just working with Tyler,” Trinkle said. “I feel like we’re turning a great double play. We work at practice, after practice, before practice on our defense, so it’s nice to see it pay off.”

Trinkle’s practice with his hitting also has been paying off. He’s batting xxx with x home runs and xx RBIs.

McDaniel said Trinkle isn’t getting a lot of pitches to hit. The coach said he has a very disciplined plate approach, and he’s looking for the one pitch he might get, and he hits it hard.

“I feel like I’ve had a consistent approach this season, as well as this offseason,” Trinkle said. “I just made a conscious effort to every day work on my swing and try to better myself.”

Trinkle has been the undisputed leader of a Bull Dogs team that is 9-6 going into today’s game at Columbus East. North has beaten the No. 1-ranked team in Kentucky (Louisville Trinity), played tough against the No. 1 team in Illinois (Plainfield South) and was tied with Indiana’s No. 1 team (Carmel) when that game was called because of darkness.

On the other hand, the Bull Dogs lost two of their three Conference Indiana East Division games. Trinkle said once they get the consistency part down, they have a team that can really make a deep run in the postseason.

“Our approach and our consistency against top teams has been awesome,” he said. “What we have to do is work to have that same approach and consistency against teams that aren’t as high-caliber as the Carmels and the Trinitys and teams like that. But we’ve shown glimpses that we can play with anybody, and I think that will help us in sectional.”

Trinkle’s goal is for the team to make the farthest postseason run it can make.

“I think our team has the arms and the hitting that we can make a deep playoff run,” he said. “I want to win state. That’s always a goal going into the season. I’m not going to be happy with anything else, but definitely, I think we can win a sectional championship and hopefully push on past that.”

If you go

What: Columbus North at Columbus East baseball

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Columbus East High School

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.