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a look back
Bowers always suffered from lack of numbers
The Bowers baseball field was just behind the Bowers school building. According to Eldon Horney, a 1944 graduate, it was a nice little field that served Bowers baseball well. Ladoga never played Bowers when I was in high school, but Tommy Thompson, a Darlington star of the late 40's remembers playing there and pitching a no-hitter early in the season.
Mounties made it to semistate in 1998 season
The 1998 edition of the Southmont Mounties led by Coach Jerry Long who had graduated from SHS in 1990, rolled through their own sectional that year finishing with a 21-6 record. The Mounties beat old rival North Montgomery 16-7 in the sectional and had to rally to beat Fountain Central 7-6. They then wiped out Western Boone 8-2 to advance to the Cascade Regional where they really put on a hitting show.
Led by junior Jeremy Paris who went 4-4 and Kyle Maynor who was 3-5, the Mounties beat the Cadets 19-4 to run their record to 22-6. A.J. Melvin and Kyle Maynor shared the mound duties in the win. In four tournament games, Paris pounded out 10 hits in 14 times at bat for a .714 average. The Mounties then moved on to the Semi-State at Richmond where they lost to Evansville Mater Dei.
The Mounties were the best in 1986
It would be another seven years before Southmont would return to baseball prominence.
Steve House took the coaching reins from Mike Strickler and promptly led the Mounties to their second sectional championship.
After winning the County as juniors, Kelley House, David Brewer, Nathan Poynter, Rob Bazzani, Bruce Zimmerman, Mike Bishop and Eric Murphy dedicated themselves as seniors to winning the sectional.
Southmont pride takes over in 1970s
Dan Taylor's senior year was the real breakout year for the Mounties. They were County Champs and defeated both Crawfordsville and North Montgomery by the 10-run rule. They beat CHS 18-2 and NMHS 13-2.
The Mounties were ranked as high as No. 7 in the state that year. They won the 1979 sectional (the first in school history) by defeating Covington and North Montgomery. SHS won the first game of the regional against Cardinal Ritter 12-3 as Jim Stull pitched a complete game and Rhett Welliever hit a home run. They lost to Roncalli in the championship game 4-2 ending the outstanding careers of eight seniors.
A brief history of Southmont baseball
A sign on the press box at the Southmont Field of Dreams proudly proclaims, "Pride is on our side." On the other side of the entrance to the field is the list of Southmont championships and on a separate sign in the middle, are the names of the baseball record holders.
The Mounties won their first sectional in 1979 when the IHSAA still was under the one class system in baseball as in all other sports. The Mounties won again in 1986, 1988, and 2002.
They won the regional in 1988 and had to travel all the way to Richmond to play a team from Evansville. (Ah, the wisdom of the IHSAA). Their only SAC championship came in 2003.
The glory years of Mountie baseball were the late seventies (1978 and 1979) and 1988. Barry Lewis was a senior on the 1979 team along with Jeff Bruner, Jeff Deck, Jimmy Stull, Mike Case and Dan and Dave Taylor. Rhett Welliever and Chris Black were juniors that year. Welliever pitched and won the championship game in the sectional at North Montgomery.
Charger baseball started fast
It didn't take the North unit long to make its presence felt in baseball after the consolidation.
The newly-formed North Montgomery High School Chargers won their first of 11 sectionals in 1975, just four years after the County consolidated into three units.
The other sectional crowns came in 1981, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1989, 1990, 1996, 2000 and 2001. The Chargers also won Sagamore Conference championships in 1985, 1987, 1989, 1996, 1997 and 2000. They won regionals in 1987 and 2000.
The record board on the press box and concession stand at the Charger Field of Dreams, proclaims that the Chargers have won six Conference Championships, 11 sectionals, two regionals and one State Runner-up.
Athenians win state again in '11
Led by record-breaking pitching and hitting performances, the Athenians won their second State 3A baseball crown once again defeating Mishawaka Marian, their final game foe in 2008. This time the Athenians were victorious by an 8-3 margin led by two home runs by Chris Minks and a route-going pitching gem by Cory Rice. CHS finished the year hitting .389 as a team on the way to a 29-6 record. The Athenians were led in hitting by Joel Hobson with a .514 average followed by Minks with a .468 mark which included 11 home runs, Jordan Jackson hit .465, Alex Ehrlich chipped in with a .439, and Caleb Rasmussen completed the .400 hitters with an average of .439.
Athenians shine at new facility
The Athenians started to build momentum when John Froedge got more active in the Youth Baseball Program in Crawfordsville and started an aggressive summer program for the returning players.
Both programs are now the envy of other programs in the state. It also helped when Coach Froedge and Brian Norris (CHS girls' softball coach) took a huge leap of faith and built a facility called the Hitting Streak on the Froedge property southwest of Crawfordsville. There is both a hitting station and a pitching station where players (both boys and girls) from all over the area can come to get quality instruction and hone their skills.
All of these improvements came together to make the CHS program one of the best in the State and individual and team honors soon followed. Beginning with Matt McCarty in 1994 when the state was still playing under a single class system and continuing to Jordan Jackson and Caleb Rasmussen in 2013, the Athenians have placed 13 players on the First Team All-State roster and 11 on the Indiana High School Coaches Association All-Star team. The first Athenian to make the All-Star team was Darmon Brown in 1978 and the latest was Jordan Jackson in 2013 when the two-day classic was played at Wabash College.
Since moving to their new facility, the Athenians have had two seasons when they won 30 games (30 in 1995 and 32 in 2008). Led by this trio of record-setting pitchers, the Athenians won the Class 3A State Championship in 2008.
The Orphans of CHS find a home
From the resumption of baseball in 1946 until the present time, CHS baseball teams played their home games at Milligan Park, although the baseball field was renamed Baldwin Memorial Field in memory of Russell Baldwin, a local policeman slain in the line of duty in 1974. This change occurred in 1976. After the passing of Ed Clifton, longtime Legion coach and passionate supporter of Crawfordsville baseball, the stadium was named in his honor. In the early days of the baseball field at Milligan Park (the first mention of a baseball facility at the park is in 1930), the field was located where Welliever Field is now. It was later moved to the present lot with home plate in the northeast comer of the lot. Home plate must have been moved to the northwest corner where it is now in the early 20's because Ed Campbell's memory of baseball goes back to the 1920's.
Crawfordsville baseball teams were orphans in the '20s and '30s
There is mention of a ball field on the East End of Elmore Street called Smith Field, but no mention has been found in Crawfordsville annuals or newspapers from 1900 to 1930.
McFarland Diamond is mentioned in the late teens and early 20s as being used for baseball games. Charles McFarland owned property on the West Side of Bluff Street from Garden to Covington. The property was called McFarland Park and there was a baseball field there. The property was sold to the city in 1939 and the Sewage Treatment Plant was constructed in 1940.
In 1927, a baseball diamond was constructed at the fairgrounds for games to be played during the Montgomery County Fair. This facility, at the northeast corner of the Hose Elementary playground was still used in the middle 50s. The first mention found of a baseball facility at Milligan Park is in the spring of 1930 when the Journal reported that Nolan Craver had been practicing his American Legion team and will play his home games there. When baseball resumed at CHS in 1946, all games were played at Milligan Park which was renamed Baldwin Field in 1976.
Crawfordsville baseball has long, storied history
Since Crawfordsville regularly played baseball against the county schools in the summer, I have decided to add Crawfordsville to our Fields of Dreams series. Crawfordsville always played baseball in the spring since they played football in the fall. It was not until 1967 that the county schools began to play in the spring. That was the year that the IHSAA began a sectional baseball format that was modeled on the basketball state series.
Baseball is one of the "Big Four" sports that stretches back into the 1890s. The first annual, The Utopian, reported that the baseball team of 1901 was well managed by its two captains, Harter Walter and Rome Williams.
The early teams suffered from a lack of finances and general lack support from the administration. They were generally managed and coached by their captains, so the captaincy was an extremely responsible position. The early heroes of CHS baseball were players like Harter "Deac" Walter, Rome Williams, Justin "Dud" Molony, Robert E. "Pete" Vaughan, the Lambert brothers, Ward and Kent, Will Sprow and Will Symmes. Many of the early players were excellent three-sport athletes and led the Athenians to glory in all the areas.
Wingate baseball was state runner up in 1911
Wingate baseball teams played in several places in and around town.
Pat Bane remembers a field by the sawmill as you come into town from Crawfordsville on 55 east. Lavon Eads, who played with Pat's husband Kenny Bane on the county championship team of 1949 remembers playing on a field west of Wingate on 55 towards Newtown.
The field was past the funeral home on the first road that goes north as 55 goes toward Newtown on the Don Gross farm. He also remembered a field in later years which was a little south of the present Little League field on US 25 towards Waynetown. Eads is the great-nephew of John Blacker who played on the teams that won the state basketball championships in 1913 and 1914. Blacker was also an excellent pitcher on the 1911 baseball team.
Waynetown baseball got its start in 1903
I only remember playing one game at Waynetown, but Charles Wilkinson said that the field was always in the same place.
The field was at the city park, just north of the swimming pool. It had a dirt infield like all the other fields in the county (except Waveland). The town water tower was in left field making left field pretty short. Like all the other fields, there was no fence in the outfield except a fence in front of the water tower. Charles Wilkinson recalled that the baseball field he played on in 1935 when the Gladiators won the County championship was in the same place that the Little League plays now. Charles played shortstop and was the leadoff man on that team.
Another look at the teams of Waveland baseball
Dean Miller, a 1969 graduate, played on a championship baseball team from Waveland in 1967. They won the County and Big Four championships that year.
By that time, the Whitecotton family had loaned the school a part of their farm to use as a baseball field. Dean recalls that it was one of the nicer fields in the county with a good backstop and everything. This field was farther east of the old cow pasture field and out in the country. Dean recalls that they played Little League baseball at the City Park and then Pony League and high school at the field outside of town. He recalls a very emotional moment before the Championship game in 1967. Waveland was scheduled to play Darlington for the championship at New Market. Earlier in the week, two outstanding County athletes, Don Evans, of Waveland and Joe Mahoy of Darlington had been killed in an accident at the Cherry Grove elevator north of Crawfordsville. Dean recalls that they lined the teams up on the baselines and had a short memorial and moment of silence for the two boys. He said that it was really tough to play baseball that day.
In the 35-year history of the Montgomery County baseball championships, Waveland won or shared the crown four times.
They won in 1961, shared it with Coal Creek in 1963, won the playoffs in 1966 after Darlington had won the regular season crown and won the last County title before the Sectional format began in 1967.
Keep in mind that there were years when the coaches crowned a Summer League champion and also a Fall League champion after school started.
Waveland baseball goes back to the turn of the century
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