Jeeps counting on athleticism, experienceMarch 26, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
DUBOIS — Veteran leadership provides value at every level of athletic competition. As Northeast Dubois head coach Luke Woolems surveys the baseball diamond, he sees a group of young men who can steer the ship.
“I think we’ve got some athletes,” Woolems said. We’ve got some kids that have been in our program for four or five years. They’re doing things the way we like them done. I’m excited to see how that translates on the field this year.”
The Jeeps will lean on their pitching depth this season. Junior Colby Pieper and senior Logan Mehringer figure to accumulate solid chunks of innings on the mound.
“They’re two guys that we will really lean on,” Woolems said. “I’m excited to see them both pitch.”
Woolems also highlighted juniors Kendrick Thombleson and Aden Thewes. Both Thombleson and Thewes pitched quality innings for the Jeeps as freshmen.
Northeast Dubois seniors Conner Troutt, Cole Tretter and Logan Lampert will offer the often-coveted veteran leadership. The squad is focusing on the fundamentals, and the preseason work has paid dividends.
“The game is much simpler if you can catch and throw,” Woolems said. “We’re starting to see some real progress from top to bottom as far as what our kids are picking up and have been able to do.”
The program’s roots run deep — Woolems and the Jeeps extracted some extra enjoyment out of some summer scrimmages with alumni. According to Woolems, the older players clamored for more action after those sweltering July days.
“It was baseball at its essence,” he said. “We weren’t traveling, we weren’t wearing uniforms, but we were playing baseball the same way they did 150 years ago. It was a really cool thing to do. Maybe it reinstilled some of the love for the game they had when they were kids.”
Spring has officially sprung, and the seasoned group will lead the Jeeps through a challenging campaign. Woolems borrowed a meaningful phrase to describe Southern Indiana’s fertile crop of talent.
“My grandpa used to say, ‘This is a baseball hotbed,’ ” Woolems said. “It’s a shame — I feel like a lot of the college scouts and pro scouts overlook this area. Whether it’s high school, American Legion baseball or even Little League baseball, there’s a lot of boys around here who know how to play the game. Their dads knew how to play the game. They taught them well.”
Over the years, Woolems developed a unique perspective on the game. Before taking over as the Northeast Dubois head coach in 2017, he coached against the Jeeps.
“It’s tradition,” Woolems said about the program. “They’re playing in front of guys that played before them. I coached against Dubois when I was at Loogootee and Paoli. There’s a special thing when the Jeeps get off the bus and walk into your ball field. We try to continue that with our guys.”
Northeast Dubois opens the season with a 6 p.m. game April 2 at home against Heritage Hills.
“It’s going to be a fun year,” Woolems said. “We’re excited.”
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