Schank enjoying round two with BombersJuly 5, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
HUNTINGBURG - Tucker Schank turned around and looked at League Stadium's wall near the right field foul pole on the afternoon of June 28.
He saw the recognition of the Dubois County Bombers winning the Ohio Valley League Championship in 2015 and 2017, and now, in his second season as a Bomber, he thinks "2021" could be added to the wall in the future.
"This is a great group of guys," Schank said. "I know we're all focused on that goal. It's like summer ball's about getting reps and having fun, but we're very determined to win as well."
Schank knows a thing or two about winning - no matter what sport it is that he's competed in. The 2019 Southridge graduate helped the Raiders make their first two baseball state championship games in program history. And while Southridge came up short both times, at least Schank will always have that 2017 Class 2A State Football Championship to his credit as Southridge's former star running back, not to mention being a two-time state wrestling qualifier in 2017 and 2018.
Yet, in all of his success in three sports, it's baseball that he believed best suited him - hence playing at Power Five school Indiana University.
"Honestly, I got an opportunity to play baseball when coach Jeff Mercer was at one of my football games, and he saw that I was a multi-sport kid - and asked if I was able to play baseball, too," he said. "And I said, 'Yeah.' I feel like that was a better opportunity for me with my body type because I'd be undersized with football, and I never really saw myself as a college wrestler.
"So, I think in terms of my body type and longevity and being able to impact the team in a positive way, I thought baseball was my best bet," Schank continued. "And I always wanted to play a sport for Indiana University."
So, he’s living the dream.
"I'm living the dream for sure," he said.
Schank found himself in the same boat as every other athlete last spring, regardless of level, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut activities down. However, he would've been redshirted anyway.
But on April 25, he got his chance when he stepped to the plate against the University of Minnesota - going 1-for-1 with a double, a walk, two runs scored and three RBIs. The left-hander's contributions were just a part in the Hoosiers downing the Golden Gophers, 23-1.
"Going to my first at-bat, I was in a pinch-hit opportunity, and I was against a sidearm lefty (Danny Kapala)," Schank said. "So, it was a very uncomfortable type of at-bat for me matchup wise, but I just stood my ground and that guy threw a four-pitch walk to me. So, I got my confidence in, got my feet wet, stepped on first base for the first time and then I was rolling from there.
"The second at-bat, it was a longer AB, the guy (Drake Davis) was throwing high eighties, low nineties with some sink," he added. "So, I just stayed over the plate and battled as long as I could in the AB, and I finally found a pitch I could drive - so I did that."
He knew he was going to be in a limited role this year, but he wanted to do whatever he could to help the team win. It meant everything to Schank to be able to find his way onto the field, wear the jersey, be in the dugout and make those road trips. He thought his coaches respected his work ethic, and how he devoted himself to the Hoosiers.
Bombers coach Travis LaMar told the Herald on June 25 that the team doesn’t want to get away from what the players work on in school, since everybody has something to work on. In Schank's case, he's trying to improve his smoothness with the glove. The Hoosiers have him as an outfielder, but he's been getting reps at second base for the Bombers this year.
He's also trying to get faster to accommodate his body type, get his arm stronger and keep having competitive at-bats. The focus is mobility, stability and strength, as he’s trying to stay mobile, but is also dialing back some of his training intensity because of how many games the Bombers play in the summer.
Schank knows what needs to happen if he wants to keep getting opportunities to contribute to IU.
"I feel I just need to stay on the right program I'm on - keep the course, keep the same mindset and do whatever I can to impact the team in a positive way," he said. "Because coaches - they always want to play people who know how to win, and they want to play people who make everybody else around them better. So, outside of the X's and O's of baseball, I just want to be a good person for the team to lean on."
For now, he's enjoying his mini-reunion with his former Southridge teammates on the Bombers: Chase Taylor, Conner Oxley and Weston Allen. Schank was ecstatic when Taylor helped the Raiders win their first state championship on June 22, and he cited his high school teammates as great players, but most importantly, good people.
He lauded his Bomber teammates from 2019 for being so welcoming to him, and he thinks this year's team is very comparable - noting how talented and fun the 2021 Bombers are. Schank loves that he gets to see his parents, live at home, be with all his friends and train at Southridge.
Plus, he gets to give the Bombers experience to others that he used to get when he was younger.
"I remember chasing a bunch of foul balls when I was little - similarly to what the little kids do nowadays, and remember getting autographs and doing all the same things the kids do now," Schank said. "So, I feel like it's our duty to pay it forward and make sure they have a good time here every time they come to the game."
More on DuboisCountyHerald.com
MaKenize Smith stays focused on her work. Her grit and determination have helped her find...
The Jasper Reds will take their talents to the NABF World Series. The Reds enjoyed a successful...
Host families play a key role for the Dubois County Bombers. Those families were honored on...
Chase Taylor is adapting to the college level after contributing to Southridge's state title.
The Dubois County Bombers earned a 4-0 win against a formidable Full Count team on Sunday evening.
It’s been a whirlwind the last few weeks for Colson Montgomery.
Tyler Wheeler is playing for the Dubois County Bombers this year - 25 years after his dad, Ryan,...
Mike Ballenger starred in other places besides just the basketball court.