Five local baseball players who won two USSSA World Series titles when they were 10 and 13 years old broke apart heading into high school, and all five currently play at their respective colleges.
Throwback memories from their younger years started to surface this summer when the quintuplet linked with 14 other college players to pioneer Demand Command’s first Columbus College Team that included six Columbus high school graduates and two from Jennings County players.
East graduates Jonathon Foster and Luke Hostetler, North graduates Nolan Wetherald and Wade Rankin and South Decatur graduate Hunter Seegers picked up where they left off six years ago by helping the DC Columbus College Team win the Midwest Prospect League Championship on July 28 and 29 at the Tomahawks baseball diamond in Indianapolis.
The team’s 13-6 record during the summer gave them a No. 3 seeding, which only required them to play two games on the way to claiming the title in the teams first year of existence.
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“It was great just to play with a lot of the guys that I used to play with when I was really younger,” said Wetherald, who plays catcher for Marietta College. “Just to come back and see how all of them have grown as players and to be able to win another championship like we used to when were younger all the time, doing that was just really fun.”
Demand Command is operated by Columbus native and former Colorado Rockies pitcher Zach McClellan. He teamed up with Foster’s father Mark, who coached the Indiana Blazers team that had the five athletes years ago. Not only were they able to win another championship together, but they got to do it with their childhood coach.
Mark Foster started coaching most of those players when they were about 9 and told them they needed to go play for other coaches as they were approaching high school in hopes of being better prepared for college. Foster backed out of coaching during those years, but said it felt surreal to coach them through another championship this summer.
Jonathan Foster said he and his dad got to create some good memories together while Mark coached him as a kid, and he felt like being coached by him this summer was kind of making up for lost time from his high school years. Jonathan plays in the outfield for Taylor University.
“It’s cool because when you come back in college, you know a lot more about the game than you did when you were a kid,” Jonathan Foster said. “Getting to be with a coach and finding the best possible way to win, and with him being my dad was a lot of fun.”
Hostetler is playing at Franklin College, Rankin is at Kankakee Community College and Seegers is playing for Manchester. The creation with of this new team started with the five childhood friends, and they began reaching out to collegiate players near the area whom they knew to help create the 19-man roster.
McClellan also referred a number of athletes from Demand Command who he thought would be a good fit. Ten of the 19 players on the roster played for a Demand Command summer travel team.
“It was just kind of a recruiting effort with people I already knew and trusted,” Mark Foster said. “If they said they were going to be good players, then we would add them to the roster, and that’s how we built the corps of the team. It worked really well … I didn’t honestly know how well we could compete. I thought it could be a little bit of a challenge putting the team together for the first year.”
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Jonathan Foster;Columbus East;Taylor University
Luke Hostetler;Columbus East;Franklin College
Tanner Kolbe;Edgewood;Taylor University
TJ Bass;Greenwood;Taylor University
Hunter Seegers;South Decatur;Manchester
Alec Bryan;Franklin Central;Earlham College
Wade Rankin;Columbus North;Kankakee Community College
Tyler Vogel;Jennings County;Marian University
Cameron Spencer;Austin;Spalding University
Charlie Burton;Columbus East;Hanover College
Nolan Wetherald;Columbus North;Marietta College
Christian Beard;Roncali;University Of Indianapolis
Jon Crawford;Columbus East;University Of Indianapolis
Austin Green;Browstown;Earlham College
Kole Barkhaus;Blackhawk Christian;Taylor University
Justin Pettit;Jennings County;Taylor University
Oakley Billingsley;South Decatur;Mount St. Joseph University
Reid Werner;Greenwood;University Of Indianapolis
Curtis Cowden;Edgewood;Milligan College