This spring, much more so than the last three seasons, Terre Haute South baseball coach Kyle Kraemer has sat back and watched his son Koby play.

Koby, who will play football and baseball at Indiana State, has been a four-year starter for his father on the baseball diamond.

“I’ve been coaching him 14 years, there’s not much more I can do or say that he hasn’t heard,” Kyle said, happy to see Koby having a strong senior year heading into his final postseason tournament today against Northview in a Class 4A sectional. “What I’ve tried to do is get him to understand how the game is supposed to be played. There’s been a couple times [in past seasons] that I didn’t think he understood how the game was supposed to be played. I think this year I made a conscientious effort to, as much as I could, sit back and watch him play.”

“He’s had a pretty darn good senior year.”

The Braves, however, have not had a great year.

The mark that hangs over South heading into the postseason is that of a 12-17 record, but Koby thinks he could lead his young team to a second straight sectional title.

First, the Braves will have to get past local rival Northview, whom the Braves have a 22-19 all-time record against after a loss this season to the Knights (10-16).

“I would say frustrating is an appropriate word,” said Koby, who also has a 3.98 grade-point average at South. “We only have four seniors. We’re very young, as it works out, that makes us inconsistent. One game we’ll play amazing, then turn around and it will be like ‘who is this team?’”

A losing season is definitely a baseball rarity in the Kraemer family, with Kyle’s teams winning back-to-back regional titles in 1985-86 as encores to the program’s first two sectional titles. As the Braves’ varsity coach, Kyle had a 265-116 record coming into this season, never finishing with a losing record in 13 seasons.

As a player, Kyle finished with a career batting average of .457, playing primarily catcher for coach Ken Martin. Many remember his 1986 home run that left Sycamore Field in a regional championship game against Sullivan and landed in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Koby put together a power surge of his own this season. On April 23, he drilled a line shot out of the park in left-center field at Riverton Parke. That homer began a home run streak of four games. The streak included a two-homer game against Class 4A No. 3 Carmel (24-4) and a homer against city rival Terre Haute North to give him five homers in four games.

But father and son insist they are different types of players.

“I would say I had more power, that was more my game,” said Kyle, Purdue’s team leader in home runs with 10 as a senior for the Boilermakers in 1990. “Koby doesn’t quite have the build for that.”

Koby, who has spent much of his career as a leadoff batter, will finish first in Terre Haute South history in at-bats and first in runs, while ranking second to 2007 McMillan Award winner Cole Vicars in career hits. With 20 this season to give him 57, Kraemer is three stolen bases from becoming the Braves’ all-time leader in that category, having passed his father’s mark of 50 steals earlier this season.

His 26 walks and 39 hits this season give him a .565 on-base percentage.

Defensively, Koby ranks first in career infield assists and first in chances by an infielder other than first basemen. For three years, he and Vicars made up the best middle infield combination in the program’s history, Kyle said, placing his son right there with Prashant Patel as the best shortstop to play for South.

“It’s an honor to on the leaderbord in some of those categories as many great players that have gone through the South program,” said Koby, also recognizing the opportunity to be the starting shortstop for the Wayne Newton Post 346 team that finished as runner-up in the American Legion World Series in 2006.

“It’s been a great time in sports and school. I’ve met a lot of great people and a lot of great friendships that will last forever,” said Koby, a standout wide receiver in football until switching to quarterback as a senior.

Another relationship that will last forever is the one between father and son, even though the Kraemers’ coach/player relationship will soon come to an end.

Kyle, who looks forward to the chance to watch his son at ISU, is going to miss their time on the diamond.

“I’ve read coach K [Mike Krzyzewski of Duke] say that the single greatest journey a coach can take is the one he has with the guys that are with him for four years,” Kyle said. “The greatest journey a father can take is the time he spends with his son. I’ve been fortunate to have two very good journeys. Koby and I have had a pretty good coach-player relationship. It’s almost like they’re coming to an end at the same time. I know I’ll continue to be his father, but I’ve coached him since he was four years old.”

Both men having a strong passion for the game translates into tension from time to time.

“It has its ups and downs,” Koby said of the relationship with his coach/father. “Beside myself, he’s my biggest critic. It’s good and bad. He always pushes me. He expects a lot out of me; in turn, I expect a lot out of myself. I’m thankful he’s been my coach and dad for this long.”

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