Virus delivers three strikes

Jake Roberts said he felt the Seymour baseball team had an excellent chance to win a sectional trophy this spring, and he also hoped he might break the Owls’ career home run record along the way.

“I know we had a real shot this year to win,” Roberts said. “We had a lot of older guys and a lot of experience, so it hurts to think what we could’ve been. We’ll never know.”

Roberts, along with all the other area high school athletes, wasn’t able to compete this season once the IHSAA canceled all spring sports because of the coronavirus.

Roberts caught, pitched and was a designated hitter for the Owls last season. “This year, coach planned on moving me to first to take some stress off my arm. Also, my background in catching and blocking balls would help me knock down balls at first.”

Roberts hit all of his nine career home runs last season. The school marks are 12 for a season and 14 for a career.

“My most memorable homers would have to be the two walk-offs,” he said. “I remember the first, against Lowell, Mich., well. Before the at-bat coach came up to talk to me and said, ‘You’re tough, now get it done. I don’t care how, just get it done.’”

The second blast was even more dramatic.

“The second was a grand slam against Madison,” Roberts said. “That one was fun because my brother and I were both on the radio show after the game, and after home wins some of the guys on the team would go to Rockford to eat and get ‘Big Cheesies’ (a specialty at the restaurant) to celebrate.”

Roberts was hoping to swing a hot bat this spring. “A personal goal of mine was to break the home run record, but I would take winning over home runs any day,” he said.

“Baseball is enjoyable to me because you never know what can happen. The sport is so unpredictable. It takes a lot of skill to play, and anyone can be beaten on a given day. What I miss about not playing is my team.”

Many of the players were long-time teammates.

“Some of those guys I have been playing with since I was 6 years old, and I have gotten to know the rest of them really well,” Roberts said. “I wish it wouldn’t have come to such an abrupt ending, but my teammates and I have made bonds and memories that will last a lifetime, so that is what I’ll miss most about playing.”

Roberts will attend Indiana University, but does not plan to play baseball.

Clayton Barger was looking forward to handling duties in center-field again this spring for Brownstown Central.

“I wanted to help the team any way I could and be a leader on and off the field,” he said.

Barger said a highlight game for him came last spring in a doubleheader against Orleans when he made a diving catch in center and had three hits to help the Braves win.

“I miss the guys a lot,” Barger said about the virus closing down the season. “They’re a big part of why I play baseball. The coaching staff is great to be around and they help us out with our lives. I miss the game I’ve played since I was little. I’ve grown up playing baseball, and it got taken away from us our senior year and it hurts.”

Clayton’s father, Shannon, is an assistant baseball coach for the Braves.

“He’s been coaching me my whole career and he tries to make me the best player I can be,” Clayton said.

He plans on attending Manchester University, playing baseball there and studying pre-pharmacy.

Briar Robinson said he misses not being able to add to his strike-out totals while pitching for Crothersville, though he also played first and shortstop.

“This year I was most likely going to be the ace pitcher and try to play some third base also,” Robinson said. “My goals for this season were to hit double- digit strikeouts in a game because last year I got nine in a game.”

Robinson said the best part of that achievement was winning and celebrating with teammates at Dairy Queen.

“It was celebration because it was the team being a team and that is what it is all about,” Robinson said. “Not getting to play this spring is disappointing because it was the last season with the team, and I don’t get to see many of them during school. But we are all friends, so the practices, games and the bus rides are just a bunch of guys hanging out and having fun, and I’m going to miss that.”

Jace Crockett, who played tennis at Trinity Lutheran for four years, and plans to attend Ivy Tech, said he wanted to help the baseball team this spring. This was going to be his first season playing the sport for the school.

“We had four official practices before it was called,” he said. “Eventually when I got my arm strength up I was going to play in the outfield. “I was looking forward to having fun with the team and helping them any way I could. I’ll miss my teammates and I want to thank the coaches for coming out and helping us.”

Seymour’s Braden Christopher did some pitching, and played outfield and third base last spring.

“My goals were to win sectionals, but mostly for me to get better as a player and a teammate so I could be the best for my senior year,” Christopher said.

Christopher said he had a walk-off hit last spring, “but my best moment/highlight was how well I pitched in our sectional against Floyd Central. It was the best game I pitched all year.

“The thing I love about baseball is all the things it has taught me and all the new friends I have made through playing the game. I’ve been playing the game ever since I was about six years old and that’s when I got into travel baseball with the Sluggers.”

Most of the seniors have played together since they were youths.

“Most of the seniors I’ve played with all my life and knowing that I can’t play with them once last time hurts,” said Christopher, who will attend Vincennes University and play for the team there while studying fire science.

Noah Voelker, a third baseman and pitcher headed to Purdue, was hoping to help Trinity Lutheran to another winning season this spring.

“My goals were to have a winning season and to break a school record by winning sectionals and at least one game of regionals,” he said.

Seymour’s Aiden Goen, who also plans to study at Purdue, was an outfielder.

“My favorite thing about baseball has always been the teammates and the coaches,” he said. “I’ve made a family through the game and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

“My favorite moment was when I made a diving catch in the outfield to get out of a tough inning. Making big defensive plays were always my favorite thing.”

Brownstown Central’s Isaac Horton said his on-field aspiration was to set some school pitching marks, but that the best part of playing the game was spending time with the other guys.

“My highlight would have to be throwing two one-hitters last year and winning the No. 1 pitcher award for the team,” he said.

“The things I miss about not playing this spring would be all the team meetings and hard practices that you would go through with your team,” Horton said. “I also miss those bus rides back to the school after a big win.”

Crothersville’s Carson Farmer pitched and played shortstop last seasn before an elbow injury transferred him to first base.

“Last season I worked really hard to become a solid first baseman, which I accomplished,” Farmer said. “So this season I had planned on putting even more work into it to become even better.”

Farmer preferred fielding over hitting.

“I always tried being the best defensive player that I could be,” he said. “However, hitting brings a lot of excitement to the game. There’s not really a better feeling than driving in a run that could win a game, or the feeling of hitting a home run.”

He remembers playing Orleans his sophomore year, collecting three hits, including his first home run. His goal was to hit for a higher average, be chosen all-conference, and help team record a winning record.

“Baseball has always been my favorite sport. I love the adrenaline rush that it brings,” Farmer said. “I really miss the sport and all the memories that come playing it. I also miss the team. Baseball is a team sport and I miss not being out there with my teammates.”


Brownstown Central: Clayton Barger, Eli Brown, Clay Chastain, Isaac Horton, Isaiah Wineinger

Crothersville: Carson Farmer, Brayden Growe, Chase McIntosh, Briar Robinson, Taylor Tatlock, Aaron William

Seymour: Jayden Brown, Braden Christopher, Aiden Goen, Trey Hohenstreiter, Matthew Moore, Jake Roberts, Michio Sekiguchi, Colin Senn

Trinity Lutheran: Kaleb Baumgarter, Jace Crockett, Chris Mau, Josh Rowe, Noah Voelker, Josh VonDielingen