SOUTHERN INDIANA — Jeffersonville graduate Drew Campbell was on the national stage — in a starring role with a walk-off hit for Louisville — last week in Omaha.
The Floyds Knobs Post 42 American Legion team was also in Omaha for its own tournament, the Battle of Omaha. But the chance to see Campbell come up big in the clutch was probably the highlight of the trip for a team with several recent Jeffersonville graduates on the squad.
"That was pretty cool, especially being able to see Drew Campbell hit that walk-off hit since he was a Post 42 Legion guy. That was memorable for us but for coaches as well," recent Charlestown grad and Post 42 middle infielder Brady Latham said.
Henryville's Luke Stock and Borden's Sam Gasper join Latham as the only returning players from last year's state runner-up team, which is back in action Thursday at Madison.
The Post 42 squad went 2-2 in Omaha without Jeffersonville grads Drew Taylor and Blayden McMahel. Former Red Devils Jack Ellis and Devyn Rivers as well as senior-to-be Ben Harbeson were on the trip.
McMahel did not make the trip to Omaha because he was making his presence felt in Madison in the North-South All-Star Series. McMahel won the Home Run Derby on Friday and went 4 for 8 with a couple walks and three RBIs in the three-game series won by the North 2-1.
It's his first time playing for Post 42.
"I'm pretty excited because I get to play with the guys I graduated with at Jeff until we go off to college," McMahel said.
Floyd Central's Blake Barrett, who hit nearly .450 as a senior and will play at Lincoln Trail College at Robinson, Ill., next year, and Aiden Minzenberger, who will play for IU Southeast, are joined by Joe Harrington, who will be a senior for the Highlanders.
Others new to the team are Matthew McCoy of Charlestown, Kyle Leftwich of Borden, and Frank Goodman and Zach Needler of South Central.
Chuck Latham is the coach and he's certainly excited about the offensive firepower his team can bring to the plate. McMahel was one of the most productive hitters in the state and Ellis, who's headed to John A. Logan College at Carterville, Ill., provides a big left-handed bat for the lineup.
"I'm very confident. We've just got to figure out the pitching. Our pitching may not be as strong as last year but our offense will be much better," Latham said. "We'll flip the tables and try to win some shootouts."
Harbeson, Gasper, Barrett, Harrington and the two South Central players provide pitching depth.
Brady Latham, who will play for Kentucky Wesleyan next year, is looking forward to seeing the team progress this summer.
"The bonding part of it is getting better. We call come from different schools. We have to learn to get along with each other. Once everybody does that, we'll start clicking on all cylinders like we did last year," Latham said.
Stock just finished his freshman season at Vincennes University as a catcher/first baseman.
"I think we'll be really good once everyone finds their role and figures out what they need to do to help the team. We haven't played together enough to know where we stand," Stock said. "We'll for sure make it to the tournament. I think we can win the whole thing. It came down to hitting last year in the championship. This year our team offensively is very good."