TERRE HAUTE —
Three Wabash River Conference diamond standouts have decided where they will continue their careers collegiately after graduating this spring.
Riverton Parke baseball standout Tim Johnson will take his talents to Southeastern Illinois Junior College in Harrisburg, while softball standouts Kayla Wilson of Rockville (Indiana-Southeast) and Hailey Aukerman of North Vermillion (Bethel) will also continue their standout careers.
Johnson hit .437 last year with 11 doubles, 6 home runs and 24 RBI.
Heading into his senior season, Johnson has been named to the All-Wabash River Conference team three times and was a member of the Hoosier Diamond All-State team a year ago.
“It is an outstanding accomplishment for Tim and his family to earn an athletic scholarship,” said Johnson’s coach, Hank Lopez. “I have talked with Coach [Nico] Gregali, and he is very excited for Tim to be on their team for next season,” he added.
Wilson will be joining a tough Grenadier program that won the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last year and advanced to the NAIA national tournament.
Last season, the Grenadiers finished with a record of 33-15 and went 17-1 in conference play.
Wilson likes the idea that her new school will be a satellite campus of the Indiana University system.
“It’s a small, four-year NAIA College with all the benefits of being an IU student,” she said. “IUSE seems to be the perfect fit for me. It’s a small campus, small class ratio, it’s not too far from home and the softball program is very strong.
“Even though this is only their fifth year for softball, they have not had a losing season,” she added, noting the team has won four KIAC championships and made 2 NAIA national appearances.
“The coach [Todd Buckingham] is very competitive and expects his players to earn their positions on the field, for playing time, every week. It’s a very competitive softball team and I can’t wait to become an IUS Grenadier.”
Wilson credits her father, Chad, for being her biggest influence.
“I would not be where I am today without him,” she said. “He has sacrificed so much time to help me become a better and stronger softball player. Over the years he has been my coach, encourager, catcher, back stop, taxi, money tree, attitude adjuster and most of all… my No. 1 fan!
“There was nothing Dad would not do to help me pursue my dream of playing softball at the college level.”
Wilson is glad to have her college decision over with, and is looking forward to her final season with the Rox.
“It is a big relief, and I want to work even harder to become a good leader, role model and stronger player,” she said. “Our team has great talent and I want to challenge our team to make this year one of the best ever.
“I have very high expectations for our team. We only lost two seniors last year and we still have a lot of talented players that will make our team very well rounded. If everyone is willing to work hard, as a team, we will have a great season.”
Wilson will be a teammate next year of Terre Haute North’s Bethany Sullivan, who will be a freshman pitcher for the Grenadiers this spring.
In the team’s pre-season prospectus, Buckingham calls Sullivan the “best freshman prospect in the conference” because of her work ethic.
Aukerman is a centerfielder who has started for NV her entire career.
She won NV’s Mental Attitude Award and Golden Glove Award as a junior. She helped lead her team to a first-place finish at the Banks of the Wabash Tournament her freshman year and also helped guide the team to a sectional championship that year.
“I chose to go to Bethel because I love the energy that Coach [Anna] Welsh gives off and how supportive and caring the girls are as a team,” Aukerman said. “Once I stepped foot on the campus, I knew that Bethel was going to be my new home for the next four years. Growing up in a small rural farm town, it is heartwarming knowing that everyone around me is so helpful and positive.”
Welsh sees many good things about her new player.
“What appealed to me right away about Hailey was both her work ethic along with her athleticism. Her overall determination is second to none and the kid just cannot get enough. That’s one of the many attributes that I love about her! She’s a perfect fit for what Bethel stands for on and off the field.”
Aukerman played travel ball with the Stone City Sharks (Minooka, Ill.) for the past three years. She helped her team win AFA 16u National Tournament in Mustang, Okla., in 2008. The following year Aukerman and the Sharks placed second in the AFA 16u Tournament in Shawnee, Kan. This past summer, they were runner up in the AFA 16u Northern National Tournament in Shoreview, Minn.
“I know I will be welcomed into the Pilot family and I will get to continue my success in the game I love most,” Aukerman said. “Becoming a Pilot and playing for a great coach and being a sister in the Pilot family is such a great honor. I truly believe that God called me to Bethel when I stepped foot onto its campus.”
She plans on majoring in psychology at Bethel. Hailey will be part of a very talented Pilot squad as Bethel finished 48-9 in 2010 and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the country. On their fourth straight trip to NAIA Nationals, they made it to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. Bethel also finished No. 6 in the country in team GPA last season with a 3.446/4.0.
Basketball injury report — Nate Blank was able to briefly return to action following knee surgery that cost him the first several weeks of his final season at the University of Indianapolis.
Blank, a 2007 Indiana All-Star performer for Terre Haute North, even was able to score 18 points against Missouri S&T following his first surgery and help the Greyhounds to achieve a No. 22 national ranking.
Blank’s career came to an end this week, however, after he had micro fracture knee surgery Saturday.
Blank played two seasons at Division I Gardner-Webb in North Carolina, being named the Atlantic Sun Conference “Freshman of the Year,” before transferring back to Indianapolis.
He had an excellent junior year with the Greyhounds, averaging 10.8 points and 4.8 rebounds.
Blank remained upbeat on his Facebook page with the surgery looming, even terming the procedure as “Greg Oden surgery.”
He thanked several people for helping him to achieve the excellent career he had.
“I want to think everyone who has been a part of my career and that helped me become the man I am today and the player I’ve become,” said Blank, an exercise science major. “To all my coaches and teammates I have ever had, I extend a personal thank you for helping me in every facet of my life and truly becoming part of my family! It was a great run!”
Terre Haute South grad John Michael Jarvis also saw his season come to an end last month at Olney Central when he suffered a broken wrist. Jarvis was second on the team in scoring at 12.0 points per game and was shooting 42 percent from the field (40.4 percent from 3-point range).
South’s Ike Worrell missed the pre-Christmas part of the schedule for Oakland City, but came back strong to start the team’s first game of the new year in an 85-40 win over Boyce College.
Worrell scored two points, grabbed two rebounds, notching two steals, handing out one assist and blocking a team-high two shots.
Throneburg to Butler – Casey-Westfield grad D.J. Throneburg, who helped lead Parkland College to the national junior college championship in 2009, has been named pitching coach for the Butler baseball program.
In addition to working with BU’s pitching staff, Throneburg will also help with recruiting, scouting and practice organization.
Throneburg comes to Butler after four seasons at Parkland. With Throneburg serving as pitching coach, Parkland went 50-13 last season and finished fifth in the nation. In 2009, the team posted a 49-9 record and captured the NJCAA National Championship.
“We are very excited to have DJ coming into our program. He was highly recommended by some outstanding college coaches and he comes from a great family,” head coach Steve Farley said. “The job he did with the pitching staff at Parkland College in 2009 was one of the primary reasons the Cobras won a national championship. He’s a proven recruiter and he can teach the fundamentals of the game. Our pitching staff and our entire team will gain from his expertise.”
Throneburg, who has also worked as an associate scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, played college baseball at Parkland and also Charleston Southern.
He pitched for Parkland from 2002-2005, making trips to the World Series in 2003 and 2005, after sitting out the 2004 season following Tommy John surgery. After graduating from Parkland, he pitched for two years at Charleston Southern University, an NCAA D-1 in South Carolina, before returning to head the Cobra pitching staff under both former coach Mitch Rosenthal and current head coach Matt Kennedy (a former Indiana State assistant).
Throneburg has camp experience at some of college baseball’s most storied programs, working as an instructor at Florida State, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Illinois.
Rox on the move — Rockville will have five college baseball players this spring who have all changed schools since last year.
Besides the previously reported transfers of Luke Greene from Lake Land to Northern Kentucky and Matt King from Indiana State to Siena Heights (Mich.), Taylor Harper will join Greene at NKU after playing for Ancilla College, Steven Ball has transferred from ISU to John A. Logan Junior College in Illinois, and J.J. Earl has transferred from Pikesville (Ky.) to Danville Area CC.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil.
TERRE HAUTE —
Three Wabash River Conference diamond standouts have decided where they will continue their careers collegiately after graduating this spring.
- College Report
College report: Valley softball pair help Ball State start off with 12-2 record
Two Wabash Valley products have helped the Ball State softball team get off to a 12-2 start, including five straight wins last weekend to capture the Louisville Slugger Invitational at Arizona State.
College Report: Valley pair square off in softball pitching duel
Administrators and coaches long ago scheduled the East Tennessee State and Indiana University softball teams to both compete in the Georgia State Panther Invitational in Atlanta last weekend. Little could they have realized, however, that a Sunday afternoon pitching matchup between the two teams would pair two successful, blonde, and versatile performers from western Indiana in a head-to-head clash.
College report: Versatile Vicars set to help VU baseball program
Chris Barney knew what qualities he wanted as he was searching this winter for a new assistant baseball coach at Vincennes University. He wanted someone familiar with his program and his coaching style, someone from the Wabash Valley area who understood the state’s high school and American Legion programs, someone who had played several different positions in the field and also someone who had made a successful transition from junior college to Division I baseball. It didn’t take him long to realize that Cole Vicars was his man.
College report: Terre Haute pair Berry, Comer to boost Sycamores’ lines
While many people have varying opinions on the most important position on a football team, most old-school gridiron veterans would consider strong line play as a necessity for anything else to work — kind of like pitching in baseball and guard play in basketball.
College report: Wabash Valley hoops pair earn MVC weekly honors
Two Wabash Valley natives picked up big honors this week from the Missouri Valley Conference for their excellence on the basketball court. Evansville freshman Sara Dickey of Riverton Parke earned the league’s Newcomer of the Week for the third time while Loyola sophomore Matt O’Leary of Terre Haute North was chosen as the league’s Scholar-Athlete of the week.
College Report: Mahurins playing major role for Indiana Wesleyan
R.J. Mahurin, a senior at Indiana Wesleyan, was selected as the Crossroads League’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for the period of Nov. 24-30.
The fifth-year senior from Rockville led Indiana Wesleyan, then ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division II, to an 88-82 win over No. 9 Bethel last month in the Crossroads League opener.
Mahurin scored 33 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the field, including 7 of 10 from 3 point range. He also recorded seven rebounds and two assists while knocking down both free throws in the contest.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former WRC football standouts playing key roles for No. 1 Mount Union
It’s a huge jump from the Wabash River Conference, one of the smallest leagues that plays high school football in Indiana, to Division III national powerhouse.
But two Wabash Valley standouts have made that leap and are significant contributors for top-ranked and defending national champion Mount Union (Ohio).
College Report: North grad enjoying sophomore season at Virginia Tech
A.J. Hughes had an admittedly up and down freshman season as the punter for Virginia Tech’s football team, but the sophomore from Terre Haute North High School has elevated his game like one of his long, hanging left-footed punts.
Hughes ranks first in the Atlantic Coast Conference in punting with a 44.8-yard average per punt, a 4.7 increase over last year and a lofty number that ranks him ninth nationally.
College Report: South graduate becomes Wabash College swim coach
Brent Noble’s climb up the collegiate swimming coaches has taken another big step, after the Terre Haute South grad was recently named the new head swimming and diving coach at Wabash College in Crawfordsville.
Noble joins the Wabash program after serving for a year as the women’s head swimming coach at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
College Report: People with Valley ties getting up-close look at top-ranked Crimson Tide
Trivia question: What do Trent Miles, A.J. Hughes and Johnny Manziel have in common?
Maybe nothing right now, but after Saturday they will all have played against the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide already this season.
Manziel has no known local ties, but was involved in the most-hyped game of the year last month as Texas A&M fell just short in a late comeback against Alabama.
Hughes, a sophomore punter for Virginia Tech from Terre Haute North, did his part in the Hokies’ 35-10 season–opening loss to the Tide.
Turner hoping to prove himself in junior college
Jeffrey Turner hopes a couple of years at junior college will do for his basketball career what it did for Derek Shouse.
COLLEGE REPORT: Watson, Seliger move on in strength and conditioning careers
Three members of the Indiana State athletics strength and conditioning staff, including two from Terre Haute, have advanced their careers and moved on to other opportunities.
Daniel Watson, former graduate assistant from Terre Haute North, has been hired by Rocky Mountain College to serve an assistant football coach and the head strength and conditioning coach.
Matt Seliger, also a former graduate assistant and North Patriot, has been hired by Athletes’ Performance in Frisco, Texas, to serve as an intern.
Longtime Butler assistant stays loyal to new job
Matthew Graves waited patiently for nine years as a member of the Butler men’s basketball staff for his chance to be a head coach.
COLLEGE REPORT: Several Valley standouts busy with baseball
Several of the Wabash Valley area standouts now in college baseball are busy with summer league teams.
COLLEGE REPORT: Kentucky baseball star Reed earns All-SEC
Kentucky sophomore baseball standout A.J. Reed of Terre Haute South Vigo High School earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors in voting by the league coaches for the recently completed season.
- COLLEGE REPORT: Wabash College All-American relay team has TH flavor
Catching up as the school year winds down
Odds and ends from here and there as the school year quickly winds down. For starters, high jumper Nick Jaeger of Terre Haute South was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s male track & field newcomer of the year:
College Report: Lively earned collegiate upgrade with strong play
Hillary Lively signed to play Division II basketball at Maryville (Mo.) during her senior year at North Vermillion, but those plans changed and she would up at nearby Danville Area Community College — where she recently concluded an outstanding two-year career.
Lively was impressive enough to earn a Division I scholarship to Southeast Missouri State of the Ohio Valley Conference, and both her future and past college coaches think she will continue to succeed there.
“She fits what we need,” SEMO coach Ty Margenthaler said. “She has college experience, she is strong and physical and plays well around the basket and moves well.
“Her strength, rebounding and touch around the basket will be a big help. On the defensive end, she’ll be able to guard a true center.”
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley prep athletes getting ready for next level
The NCAA “regular” signing period begins Wednesday for all sports except football, field hockey, soccer, track and field, cross country and men’s water polo.
COLLEGE REPORT: Conferences honor Valley softball players
Several Wabash Valley area college softball players have been honored by their respective conferences for outstanding play this spring.
COLLEGE REPORT: Jake Newton makes big impact for Lincoln Trail College
Jake Newton had a long time between playing in competitive basketball games, a span of about 18 months, and used the frustration from that long dry spell to produce a stellar freshman season for Lincoln Trail College this winter.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed earns SEC Player of the Week honors
After belting three home runs during a five games last week, Kentucky sophomore left-handed pitcher/first baseman A.J. Reed was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.
COLLEGE REPORT: Spring newcomers making marks
Several freshman baseball and softball NCAA Division I players from the Wabash Valley have already made immediate impacts at their new schools, while others are waiting for their turns to shine.
COLLEGE REPORT: A.J. Reed named third-team preseason baseball All-American
Two-way sophomore standout A.J. Reed was one of three University of Kentucky players named third-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
COLLEGE REPORT: Sponsler honored after big week for Wabash men's hoops
Wabash College freshman Ross Sponsler of Terre Haute North was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 6.
COLLEGE REPORT: North grad Hughes finds success after facing preseason adversity
A.J. Hughes knew he was in for a battle as he competed with three other walk-on punters in the preseason for the lone starting job on the Virginia Tech football team.
Etling, Meggs enjoying great year
It’s been a great year so far with more to come for a pair of longtime friends and St. Patrick’s School classmates.
Former Terre Haute resident Jack Meggs quarterbacked the Bellevue Wolverines football team to the Washington Class 3A state championship this fall, culminating with a 35-3 win over Sammamish Eastside Catholic — Bellevue’s fifth straight crown.
Danny Etling, meanwhile, has completed graduation requirements at Terre Haute South and is preparing for an upcoming high school all-star game and his first college classes in a couple of weeks.
COLLEGE REPORT: Valley’s women’s college hoops players start strong
Several women’s college basketball players from the Wabash Valley have gotten off to good starts this season on the hardwood. Highlights:
COLLEGE REPORT: Mayhew, Mascari provide fall highlights
Several dozen Wabash Valley athletes enjoyed successful fall seasons collegiately in cross country and tennis this year.
COLLEGE REPORT: Former North teammates start strong in college
Former Terre Haute North teammates Ross Sponsler and Matt O’Leary made their college basketball debuts last week and had outstanding initial performances.
- More College Report Headlines
- College report: Valley softball pair help Ball State start off with 12-2 record