While growing up in Seymour, Aiden Darlage spent a lot of hours in the spring and summertime playing baseball.
While playing baseball for the Seymour Owls, he knew he wanted to play at the next level.
Darlage took a step in that direction last week when he signed a letter of intent to play at Indiana University Southeast.
Owls head coach Jeremy Richey said he feels IU Southeast is a good place for Darlage to continue his baseball career.
“I think that the way he swings the bat and the way he comes to practice every day and competes, he is definitely going to give himself a shot,” Richey said. “The part that I love about Aiden that I told coach (Joe) Nattermann when he came up to a practice, if Aiden doesn’t help you right away on the field, he is going to help your program because the guys that play in front of Aiden are going to have to earn it because he is going to show up every day and work hard.”
Darlage is a hard worker.
“He will make the guys out on the field better because he shows up, and it’s not just the times that he is supposed to be there and works hard. He puts his own time in because he wants to be a really good baseball player,” Richey said.
“I think he is going to have a great career for them. They have been very successful. They were in the (NAIA) World Series a couple of years ago. He is going to go down to a winning culture, and he is going to make people work to continue that culture for them.”
Darlage played mainly at first base his sophomore year, and last year, he split his time between first and pitching.
He said he enjoys everything about playing first base.
“I love being in the middle of the action,” he said. “I love being able to pick my teammates up if they throw it in the dirt. I love catching it and throwing it around.”
Darlage, who stands 5-foot-11, is left-handed and says he has confidence in his defense, and he said he enjoys batting.
“I love the way the ball comes off the bat,” he said. “I love standing in there, the pitcher versus me. I just love everything about it.”
Last spring, he was 28 for 78 for an average of .359. He topped the Owls in RBI with 33, had six doubles and two triples and scored 11 runs.
He batted fourth or fifth for the Owls last season. Darlage said when he gets in the batter’s box, he looks for a pitch he can handle and goes with the pitch, if it is inside pull it to right field, or if it is outside, hit it to left or left-center.
“I do look fastball first pitch,” he said. “I hit gap to gap pretty well. I get a lot of RBI. I have a lot of fast kids in front of me. I’m trying to break that season record for RBI this season.”
That’s held by Jesse Wilson with 39 in 2009.
“I get real swing happy,” he said. “If it’s in the zone, I want to hit it. I try to keep my weight back a little bit on off-speed pitches.”
He pitched 15.1 innings last spring and had an ERA of 2.74 with 18 strikeouts and 14 walks.
Darlage says he throws fastball, change-up, curveball and slider.
He said he likes to get strikeouts with his slider.
“I have good side-to-side movement,” he said. “My coaches are always big about putting the ball where you want it, and that’s what I’ve pretty much done my whole life. I’ve always prioritized my location with all my pitches and have been pretty successful.”
Richey said Darlage also may see some playing time in the outfield this spring.
“That is something they may look at down there,” he said. “The thing about Aiden is he a baseball player, and he is open to whatever that is. He is athletic enough that he can play a corner outfield position, as well.
“He does a great job at first base for us, and toward the end of last year, his role kept getting bigger and bigger, and he pitched some really good games against good opponents the second half of the season.”
Richey said Darlage has a chance to be the Owls’ No. 1 pitcher in 2023.
“We’ve got five or six kids that have thrown a lot,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that we feel comfortable throwing, and this is probably the most depth we’ve had on the mound in terms of quality depth. I think the way Aiden threw at the end of last year and the way that he competes, he is definitely going to be up there at the top.
“He is a really good defensive first baseman. He has been a huge asset for us. His jump from his sophomore year at first to his junior year at first base was tremendous.”
Darlage played travel ball with Seymour teams growing up, and after his freshman year, he played with the Indiana Astros from Indianapolis.
“We played everywhere,” he said. “We played in Florida, Alabama and places like that.”
Darlage said that experience made him a better high school player because of the players and teams he faced.
“Just seeing competition from everywhere helped lot a lot,” he said. “Just the morale around with your friends and having fun, that’s what it’s about.”
He said he has been working on his game a lot in the indoor cage.
“I’m working on figuring out things on my own. I go to a pitching coach in Indianapolis two days a week,” he said.
Darlage said baseball has always been his favorite sport.
“I love baseball,” he said. “I just love being in the atmosphere. There is just a certain feeling when you have a game. I love the way it’s played and everything.”