Bartholomew County’s baseball teams have high hopes for big seasons this spring.
Both Columbus East and Columbus North are loaded with Division I commitments and young prospects, and Hauser figures to be one of the top Class A teams in the state. The season begins Monday when Edinburgh visits Trinity Lutheran.
Here is a look at those and other area teams:
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The Olympians broke through last season to win their first sectional title since 1999. They lost four key players from the Hoosier Hills Conference runners-up, but return several others from a team that went 20-8.
"I’ve been very pleased with our guys so far," East coach Jon Gratz said. "We have a good mix of some returning talent and some young guys that are going to fight for some spots. I think we’re going to have a very talented team again this year. We’re just trying to get better every day and trying to be playing our best baseball going into June."
The Olympians have a solid 1-2 punch on the mound with junior Cole Gilley and senior Julian Greenwell. Gilley, last year’s The Republic Baseball Player of the Year, had committed to Indiana University, but reopened his recruitment after former Hoosiers coach Chris Lemonis left for Mississippi State. Greenwell also originally committed to IU, but has switched to Wright State.
Sophomore Kaden Wise and senior Jonah Wichman also return with pitching experience. Sophomores Clayton Taylor, T.J. Barkhimer, Daniel Murphy and Jose Martinez also could see some innings on the mound.
"I’m pretty comfortable with any of those guys out there right now," Gratz said. "Some of them just need to get some experience."
Junior catcher Dalton Back, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, was East’s top hitter last season. Senior Jonah Wichman, a South Carolina-Upstate commit, returns at shortstop.
Gilley plays third base when he isn’t pitching, and Greenwell can play right field when not on the mound. Senior Nash Murphy, who played left and right field last season, moves to first base, and sophomore Ben Major takes over at second.
Sophomore Parker Harrison, who pitched and played third last season, moves to center field. Taylor, Barkhimer and Wise are battling for the starting job in left.
Sophomore Jacob Box and freshmen Harry Major and Will Rieckers could see action the infield. Junior Ethan McKinney could see time as a designated hitter.
"We have a chance to be offensively one of the best hitting teams since I’ve been here," Gratz said. "We’ll see what our young pitchers do as they get some experience."
The Bull Dogs lost only one starter from a team that went 18-10 and fell to East 7-6 in eight innings in the sectional final.
Still, North may only start two seniors.
"We have a lot of youth, and we have a lot of talented youth," North coach Ben McDaniel said. "We’re looking forward to a strong defense, and hopefully, we can find the offensive production to match."
The Bull Dogs have three Division I pitching recruits in seniors Parker Maddox (Ohio) and Jakob Meyer (Evansville) and junior Casper Clark (Indiana). McDaniel also could look to juniors Grant Trinkle and Adam Chapman, sophomore Reese Harmon and seniors Devon Rodgers and Konner Stahl to provide some innings.
"We expect our pitching to be the strength with three Division I arms and guys that have a ton of experience for us on the mound," McDaniel said. "We’re trying to find a fourth guy to add to that rotation."
Sophomore catcher Austin Bode, a Louisville recruit, was North’s top hitter last season. Trinkle, a Kentucky commit, returns in center.
Clark and Meyer played first when not pitching last season and could play there again, along with Maddox and Devon Rodgers. Junior Homare Takauchi and sophomore Kyler McIntosh played second and third last year and are battling with Rodgers and sophomore Reese Harmon, who played left and right field, for the starting spots at second, short and third.
Chapman will move from left to right field. Sophomores Blake Huffman and Hayden McDaniel, both of which saw action last season, are vying for the job in left.
Stahl and junior Pedro Munoz will back up Bode behind the plate. Sophomores Aaron Rork and Blake Stevens in infield and Jacob Bailey in the outfield also could see action. Freshmen Will Baker, Zach Wager and Alex McComb could see innings on the mound
"I would venture to say this is probably the deepest squad that I’ve had since I’ve been here," Ben McDaniel said. "We have a lot of young guys that are chomping at the bit to get some opportunities. We can plug and play a lot of places. It’s been kind of nice to see a little bit of competition early in the season for us internally."
The Jets will look to make a deep tournament run after winning a Mid-Hoosier Conference and sectional titles and reaching the regional final last season.
"It all depends on how we do the little things and how our defense plays behind our pitching staff," Hauser coach Nate Long said. "We were only a couple key hits away from advancing (to semistate) last year, and we hope to build on that. Baseball is a game of inches, so hopefully, it goes our way, and we can keep improving and go as far as we can this year."
The Jets return a pair of experienced hurlers from a 21-9 team in senior Aaron Mee and junior Trey Johnson. Johnson, who is drawing interest from D-I schools including Eastern Illinois, Wright State and Ball State, was the team’s top hitter last season and plays first base when not pitching.
Juniors Parker Eickbush and Jackson Paradise, senior Cameron Lawson and freshmen Kobe Johnson and Eli Miller also could pitch this season.
"I have probably legit eight guys that I’ll throw," Long said. "In our scrimmage, I pitched eight guys and felt comfortable with all of them."
Senior Sean Miller, a Millikin (Illinois) recruit, returns at catcher, and play first when Johnson is pitching. Sophomore Kobe Meahl will catch when Miller is at first.
Eickbush, who played left, could move to third or stay in the outfield. Senior Jacob Luken and Lawson return in center and right.
Sophomores Landon Asher and Frankie Poole are battling at second. Paradise, a transfer from East, will take over at short.
Senior Will Trotter, who is playing baseball for the first time since his freshman year, could play left or center. Asher and sophomore Clayton West also are battling for time in the outfield.
"We’re trying guys out at different positions, and we seem to be pretty deep," Long said. "I feel like I have 12 guys that can play on an every-day basis."
Todd Hostetler takes over the Crusaders program from Jamey Reed.
Hostetler, who has won a state title and two USSSA World Series championships with the Indiana Blazers travel organization and has worked with the Demand Command program, expects to have about 15 or 16 kids when Columbus Christian starts practice on Monday.
"I’m happy with those numbers," Hostetler said. "I know that we’ll be very young. I do know that the kids are athletic, and we have some kids with some pretty decent size. I have several that play multiple sports, so I look at that athleticism being very helpful. Even though we’re young, we have a lot of kids that have played travel ball, so it will be nice to have that experience."
Hostetler will look to juniors C.J. Reed and Sam Flint to lead the Crusaders this season. Others expected to contribute include freshmen Gabe Ridder, Alex Kingsbury, Ethan Nickerson, Lucas Kramer and Aeden Campbell and eighth-graders Owen Reed and Joshua Sallee.
The Crusaders went 0-7 last season.
"We’re going to focus on fundamentals and playing the game the right way," Hostetler said. "I pretty much guarantee that we’ll be better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning."
The Panthers will look to improve on a 3-16 record from a year ago.
Jennings returns experienced pitchers in seniors Josh Pettit and Duncan Rowda, along with senior Cody Wilson, who was injured last year. Junior Kyle Wilson, who returns at first, also can pitch.
Junior Owen Miller played at second and short last season and is battling with Cody Wilson, junior Gavin Gunn and freshman Jacob Vogel for spots at second, short and third. Freshman Ian Sawyer and junior Dustin Andrew are vying for the catching job.
Pettit and Rowda return in center and right. Juniors Jakob Kirby and Jaydan Vanosdol are battling in left.
"Everybody is fighting for a position right now, except for a couple of people," Jennings coach Trent Hardisty said. "Right now, the main goal that we are working on is competing and the ‘Show me; don’t tell me,’ attitude."
The Eagles lost only two starters from a team that went 8-15.
Junior Eli Snider returns on the mound, and will get help from sophomore Justin Partyka and senior J.T. Parry. Junior Isaac Weddle is back behind the plate.
Snider and senior John Wayne Ziegler return at first, and senior Brandon Leslie is back at second. Partyka returns at short, and senior Jake Riehl will play there when Partyka is pitching. Senior Bryce Walker who did not play last season after starting as a sophomore, and junior Clay Johnson are battling to take over at third.
Parry returns in left, and Riehl and Ziegler can play center. Junior newcomer Aaron McCann and senior Trey Gault, who also did not play last year, are battling in right.
Gault also could see innings on the mound. Junior Ben Neal cound play first and pitch.
"We have quite a few guys that are very versatile and can play multiple positions, which makes it nice for us," Brown County coach Ryan Wilcoxen said. "We’re trying to figure out what works best for us right now."
Dennis Smith, who has been assistant baseball and basketball coach for the Lancers, takes over the baseball program from Jason Burton.
Edinburgh returns four senior starters from a team that went 11-10 and finished second in the MHC, but the other 10 players on this year’s squad are freshmen or sophomores.
Senior Zach Giles will pitch and play in the outfield. Senior Coltan Henderson returns at short and pitcher. Senior Bryce Burton moves from left to first, and senior Ethan Armel, who played second and right, will play third and catch.
Freshman Ian Buchanan will do most of the catching, and sophomore Noah Detling steps in at second. Sophomore Austin Streeval and freshman Riley Palmeter and Nick Detling take over in left, center and right.
"We’re real young," Smith said. "We scrimmaged against Hauser, and we were a little bit more ahead of the curve than what I thought we would be. What I like about this freshman-sophomore group is, they’re very coachable, and they’re trying to do the right things."
The Cougars return several key players from a team that went 4-16 last season.
Junior Brogan Howard was the top pitcher. Senior Luke Eden and juniors Riley Peele, Charlie Frensemeier, Adam Baugh also saw innings on the mound last season.
Frensemeier will start at catcher, with sophomore newcomer Clayton McNealy providing backup relief. Senior Jalen Winchester is back at first, and Baugh returns at third. Sophomore Ben Stier and freshman Zaydun Sharp take over at at second and short, and both also could pitch.
Sophomore newcomer Wyatt Gatewood takes over in left, and senior Nolan Storm returns in center. Peele has the inside track on the right field job, while junior Hunter Dean, Eden, freshman Kelby Shook and sophomore Joseph Royer also could see action there.
Eden also could play in the infield, and Shook will provide depth at first. Sophomore Griffey Storm can play first and third, and sophomore Brian Wittkamper can play first and DH. Royer also can play second and short.
"We’re looking pretty good," South Decatur coach Eric Foga said. "Overall, we have a fairly young team, but we have quite a few returners from last year, so we don’t have to re-teach everything, which is good. We’ll be much improved."
The Cougars have a new coach in Ben Kleber. Kleber, who takes over for Matt VonDielingen, was assistant at Trinity from 2014-16 and at Brownstown Central the past two years.
Only five of the 12 players on team played last year, when the Cougars went 8-10-1. Senior Trent Shoemaker, who played second last season, move to short.
Sophomore Lawson Woods returns at pitcher and outfield, and sophomore Tyler Goecker is back after playing short and pitching. Sophomore Jack Marksberry played pitcher, catcher and infield, and junior Noah Voelker saw action at third and in the outfield.
Sophomore Jake Mau will catch when Marksberry is pitching. Junior Josh Rowe, who missed most of last season with an injury, steps in at first.
Woods returns in center, and senior Hunter Morgan takes over in left. Freshmen Evan Hunt and Chase Sawyer are battling in right. Senior newcomers Connor Seifers and Denver Shelley also could see action in the outfield.
"We’re pretty inexperienced," Kleber said. "We’re trying to get the fundamentals down and do some other things, but we’re a pretty young team. We’re going to be pretty solid at the top. It’s just right now getting everybody some reps and seeing who can handle the pitching."
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Saturday;Huntington North (DH);11 a.m.
April 2;Cathedral;5:30 p.m.
April 4;at Seymour;6 p.m.
April 6;at Floyd Central;11 a.m.
April 9;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 10;at Brownsburg;6 p.m.
April 12;at Jeffersonville;6 p.m.
April 20;at Jasper Invitational;10 a.m.
April 23;at Bedford North Lawrence;5:30 p.m.
April 25;at Jennings County;5 p.m.
April 27;Bloomington South (DH);10 a.m.
April 29;Southport;6 p.m.
May 3;Columbus North;5 p.m.
May 6;HHC Tournament;TBA
May 8;HHC Tournament;TBA
May 10;HHC Tournament;TBA
May 14;at East Central;5:30 p.m.
May 15;Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
May 16;Franklin;5:30 p.m.
May 18;East Round Robin;10 a.m.
Saturday;at Silver Creek Invitational;11 a.m.
April 2;at East Central; 6 p.m.
April 4;at Bloomington North;5:30 p.m.
April 5;Super Prep Invitational at Louisville Ballard;3 p.m.
April 5;Super Prep Invitational at Louisville Trinity;8 p.m.
April 6; Super Prep Invitational at Louisville Christian Academy;12:30 p.m.
April 6; Super Prep Invitational at South Oldham (Kentucky);5:30 p.m.
April 11;Shelbyville;5:30 p.m.
April 12;PBR Midwest Select at Grand Park (Westfield);TBA
April 13; PBR Midwest Select at Grand Park (Westfield);TBA
April 16;Franklin Central;5:30 p.m.
April 18;at Jennings County;5:30 p.m.
April 20;at Roncalli (DH);11 a.m.
April 23;Southport;6 p.m.
April 25;Seymour;5:30 p.m.
April 26;Cathedral;5:30 p.m.
April 27;Jeffersonville;10 a.m.
April 27;Terre Haute North;3 p.m.
April 30;at Noblesville;6:30 p.m.
May 2;Greenwood;5:30 p.m.
May 3;at Columbus East;5 p.m.
May 8;at Bloomington South;6 p.m.
May 9;Hamilton Southeastern;6:30 p.m.
May 11;at Terre Haute South;11 a.m.
May 13;at Fishers;6 p.m.
May 18;at North Central Invitational;1 p.m.
April 9;at Tindley;5:30 p.m.
April 13;Southern Roads Conference at Cannelton;TBA
April 15;Hauser JV;5 p.m.
April 16;Suburban Christian;5:30 p.m.
April 19;at Indiana School of Deaf;5:30 p.m.
April 22;at Crothersville;5:30 p.m.
April 25;at South Decatur JV;5:30 p.m.
April 29;at Providence Cristo Rey;5:30 p.m.
May 3; at Dugger Union;5:30 p.m.
May 4;Madison Shawe (DH);Noon
May 11;Evansville Christian;Noon
May 11;Suburban Christian;2 p.m.
May 16;ICSAA State Tournament at Grand Park (Westfield);TBA
Saturday;at Henryville (DH);11 a.m.
April 3;at Edinburgh;5 p.m.
April 4;Edinburgh;5 p.m.
April 6;Trinity Lutheran (DH);11 a.m.
April 11;North Decatur;5 p.m.
April 12;at North Decatur;5 p.m.
April 13;at Lawrenceburg (DH), 11 a.m.
April 16;Greensburg;5 p.m.
April 18;Waldron;5 p.m.
April 19;at Waldron;5 p.m.
April 20;at Jac-Cen-Del (DH);11 a.m.
April 25;at Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
April 26;Southwestern (Shelby);5 p.m.
May 2;at Indian Creek;5:30 p.m.
May 7;Batesville;5:30 p.m.
May 9;at South Decatur;5 p.m.
May 10;South Decatur;5 p.m.
May 11;Austin (DH);11 a.m.
May 13;Morristown;5:30 p.m.
May 14;at Morristown;5:30 p.m.
May 17;East Central;5 p.m.
May 18;at North Daviess (DH);11 a.m.
May 20;at Indianapolis Lutheran;5 p.m.