A Return to a Zionsville Pastime: Baseball
Baseball … it’s an original American pastime. And while it may have different meanings to different people, the thing that makes it universal is that it supports and reflects many aspects of American life. And youth baseball, well … what better exemplifies life in “small-town America”?
I spoke with coach Jered Moore, who is the head coach of Zionsville Community High School (ZCHS) Baseball, about what this season looks like as we are learning how to coexist with COVID-19. He shared what its been like for the student-athletes as well as the coaching staff with regard to training and playing. He also shared how proud he is of the varsity team’s ability to persevere and win the season opener against another exceptional team and tough rival, Carmel High School, with a 6-0 victory.
Finding a Silver Lining
Moore, who also coaches with the Indiana Bulls, is proud of his ZCHS student athletes, and we discussed how important it is that the kids know that their community continues to support their efforts and admirable work ethic.
As many will recall, last year’s season was canceled due to the onset of the pandemic.
“Last year, we graduated six players who lost their senior season, which is heartbreaking,” Moore said. “I felt so bad for them, especially the guys who were going to be on the varsity team. Early on [during the lockdowns], the kids were still working hard at baseball while restricted to their homes. So, even though they lost their [high school season], I think they carried that forward to their summer teams, and that helped them get through it. The summer organizations still played last summer, so I was relieved that they didn’t lose a whole year.”
Returning to the Diamond
Moore shared that one of this season’s challenges—aside from COVID-19 itself—has been training a large freshmen and sophomore group, and the fact that the kids went a whole year not playing as a team.
“This past summer, a lot of our kids were highly ranked in different polls and rankings put out there,” Moore shared. “I knew we were going to have very talented kids, but not having played together as a team for a year, I knew it was going to be difficult going over a lot of the team aspects of the game.”
Moore continued, “Other teams went through the same thing. We all needed time to play together, get to know one another on the field, so going into that first game was exciting because it had been so long since we had played, and it was exciting to see how it was all coming together.”
The secondary challenge for Moore and the coaching staff was getting their players to come together on the field and learn how to work off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. No small task as the freshmen and sophomore groups are quite large this year.
“We had 103 kids sign up, and by the time we got to tryouts, we had narrowed it down to around 89 [kids],” Moore shared. “Having that many kids together made it a little harder to work on individual skills, and we only have two weeks before our first game against Carmel. Carmel also has very good players, so we knew that they were going to be a very good team. It was nice getting in uniform and back out on the field again for a game.”
A Tradition of Producing Talent and Future “Hopefuls”
Moore expressed that ZCHS has a talented team with several of them committed to playing at the collegiate level.
“We are blessed to have a very talented team and at the varsity level—I’d say of the 21 roster players, 15 of them will go on to play college baseball,” Moore expressed. “Our power pitchers are a big reason why we have the rankings that we do. These pitchers go to showcases, and they light up the radar gun. And they don’t just throw hard—they can hit!”
Moore shared a few of the top pitchers that represent the front part of the pitching rotation: Nate Dohm, Drew Dickson, Aidan Hatch, Jack Nelson, Zach Nehlsen and Elliott Rossell.
“Nate is ranked one of the top pitchers in the state and has a very bright future,” Moore said. “He’s already committed to play at Ball State [University]. I know at the Carmel game and our second game he threw, and there were numerous pro scouts there watching him.”
Zionsville—It’s Time to Rally!
When asked how important the support from fans and the community are to the team, Moore replied, “As far as attendance is concerned, our community does a great job, and the kids love it when they look out there in our stands and they are packed. The support from our community is fantastic! I often talk to other coaches across the state, and they ask, ‘What are you guys doing differently?’ It’s not really what we’re doing but what’s being done at the younger ages. When you have success at the high school level, the young kids want to become a part of that in the future. So, when I see our young teams at Grand Park, Lions Park in Whitestown and Lions Park in Zionsville being successful at the younger age levels, that just carries forward to when they get into high school.”
So, be sure to follow our ZCHS Baseball team this season, get your tickets to the games and join us in supporting our student-athletes while enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of a beloved pastime at our local ballfields.