Brownstown Central gearing up for baseball season



Cold temperatures and snow may not serve as the best indication, but the boys of summer are ready to hit the field at Brownstown Central High School.

The Braves will kick off the 2018 season next week with the team’s new skipper at the helm.

Brandon Tormoehlen said he is ready for the season to begin to see exactly where his team stands in what he believes will be a competitive and talented Mid-Southern Conference.

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“I’m excited to see how we do against some outside competition and see where we’re at,” he said. “It will be interesting to see how we progress.”

The team has a scrimmage scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday at home against South Central (Union Mills), which is near Valparaiso. The forecast might lead to a cancellation.

“Doesn’t look like it will happen, but we’ll see,” Tormoehlen said.

The Braves then will have a busy week starting Monday when they host Moore High School from Louisville, Kentucky.

“That will be good competition for us,” he said. “They’re a big school that will already have a few games under their belt because their season starts a week earlier.”

The goal in practice has been to improve each day, and the same will be applied to games throughout the season in hopes the team will be playing its best baseball in mid-May, Tormoehlen said.

“I’m hope we can improve on a daily basis,” he said. “We talk a lot about the process of getting better and pick one or two things to improve on one day, then pick something else the next day.”

Raising the intensity, longer practices and a variety of drills might help the team complete that goal. Many of the practices have focused on game situations where Tormoehlen wants players to think mentally about the situation and physically where they need to be positioned on the field.

“We practice a lot differently than most high school programs,” he said. “We have a playbook where I script out everything that can happen in different situations in a game.”

The team has taken notice to more intense practices and mental preparation.

“I like the way he brings the intensity to the game, and he’s really competitive,” said Gus Hogan, a senior assigned to center field.

Hogan said that attitude could spill over into the dugout and provide the team with an extra boost.

“I like to have a competitive coach that wants to win as much as we do,” Hogan said.

Stuart Hayden, a senior pitcher and first baseman, agreed and said he has been working on ground balls and scooping balls at first.

“It’s definitely more intense, practicing longer and doing more drills,” he said. “We’re also working a lot of different things.”

Ian Martin, a senior and catcher, said the practices also are at a faster pace.

That intensity has not forced the young Braves, who will be led by the three seniors, to back down from the challenge.

In fact, Tormoehlen said he has noticed the team’s work ethic since practice began more than a week ago.

“They work hard,” he said. “I think this is a group of guys that is used to working hard.”

The team also is full of multisport athletes, which Tormoehlen said is a benefit, and hard work is a standard through all programs at Brownstown.

“Dave (Benter, basketball coach) and Reed (May, football coach) have done a great job of having our guys work out,” he said. “When we practice, we have a good effort.”

The team is moving some players from positions they may not be as familiar with at the high school level.

“That’s always a challenge when you’re introducing new positions to new guys,” Tormoehlen said. “We’re trying to find out what’s going to be our best nine guys.”

Tormoehlen wants to see what will happen on the mound. He said the team lost a significant amount of seniors that graduated in 2017.

“We lost a lot of innings on the mound,” he said. “The pitching side is going to be interesting to see because we’re young.”

Defensively, the team seems prepared even though there have been some setbacks in practices last week. Tormoehlen said that will come with more repetitions.

“We’ve had some good defense in practice, and we’ve had some practices where defense wasn’t as good,” he said.

As far as hitting, Tormoehlen said that can vary based on what pitchers his team faces. He said there’s a lot of top-level talent the team could potentially face on its schedule.

“Silver Creek has two Division I guys,” he said, adding there are multiple schools that have good arms, too. “It’s good for our guys, especially for our young guys to see that kind of talent.”

The high level of competition in the conference is one reason Tormoehlen is frustrated by the IHSAA’s approach to practice for high school baseball.

The organization, which sanctions high school sports, only permits two weeks of official practice prior to the high school season.

That doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for a club to get ready for a season, Tormoehlen said, adding players need to work on pitching, defensive skills and swing timing.

“Being a baseball guy myself, I wish we could start practice sooner,” he said. “That’s a short window to get arms ready and get swings ready. I don’t understand the logic behind it, but it’s not something we can control, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Hogan said Tormoehlen helped him work on a new swing during the offseason, and he is looking forward to debuting it in games next week.

“It’s changed completely, and it looks pretty good now,” he said.

Hayden said he looks forward to hitting the diamond with his teammates and hopes the team can do one thing.

“Hopefully, we are going to play some good baseball,” he said.

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