Youth baseball: Keeping team together during offseason has helped Porter County Black team
By Mike Clark Post-Tribune correspondent June 7, 2013 9:36PM
Updated: July 9, 2013 6:22AM
With one eye on the past and another on the future, Nick Doud decided to change the way he’s running the Porter County Storm.
Doud founded the Senior Babe Ruth program for 16- through 18-year-olds and now manages its top team, Porter County Black, which will host the Ohio Valley Regional next month at Chesterton High School. Also under the Storm umbrella are Red and White teams, with about 50 players in all.
Storm Black got knocked out of the postseason in the district final last summer by the upstart LaPorte Lakers, who went on to end the Hammond Chiefs’ 82-game winning streak in Northern Indiana tournament play.
Doud wants to make sure Storm Black is well-positioned to compete at the regional level this year, which prompted the makeover.
“We beefed up the schedule and we kept the kids playing year-round,” Doud said. “We got some indoor facilities to use around Chesterton. We’re seeing strong dividends from that.”
One reason to keep the team working together during the offseason was to break down the barriers between players coming from a variety of high school programs.
“The chemistry is already starting to be there with this team,” Doud said. “It’s miles ahead of last year. We have to fight two battles — not just the battle on the field but learning (to work with) kids you played against all year. You have to play with them.”
Doud sees some other positives with this Storm Black club, which was 3-1 through mid-week.
“This is the deepest we’ve been with the pitching,” he said. “We have great balance (offensively). We can go (for) power or (play) small ball all the time.”
The pitching staff includes Tyler Frey (Washington Township), CJ Wodetski (Wheeler), Austin Whitaker (Wheeler), Ryan Seller (home school), Austin Porter (Morgan Township) and Tyler Beemsterboer (formerly at Andrean).
Whitaker, Seller, Porter and Beemsterboer also provide some pop at the plate, while fourth-year Storm veteran Matt Polito (ex-Morgan Township) is among the players with some speed.
New-look Chiefs: Another local program that has seen some changes is the former Hammond Chiefs, whose flagship club is now the Indiana Chiefs of Hammond 17-and-under team. Still managed by founder Dave Sutkowski, the Chiefs started 2-0 and are gearing up for their own invitational June 14-16 at Riverside Park in Hammond.
Camp time: The Diamond Kings Major League Baseball Summer Skills Camp for players ages 6-14 will be at Heartland Park in St. John from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 1-2. The cost is $85, which includes an MLB Skills Camp T-shirt and lunch both days. The registration deadline is June 23. For more info, go to TrainDK.com or call (219) 558-2273.
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