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Center Grove High School baseball preview

Center Grove High School head baseball coach Keith Hatfield and his family. (Provided Photo/Keith Hatfield)

CENTER GROVE, IN (WISH) — The Center Grove baseball team is getting ready for the 2024 season after making it to the Class 4A state title game last season. The 2023 season came to an end at Victory Field last year when they lost to Penn in the Class 4-A state title game. 

“Last year, we knew we had a group that could compete for a state title and they did,” Head Coach Keith Hatfield said. “Because of all the seniors we lost last year, we aren’t really sure what we have yet.  We have a lot of players with talent, but aren’t sure how they will react to the schedule we play.  It is also one of the things that makes coaching fun! Our staff is excited to see the inexperienced guys become experienced and have success.”

Some of those players that Center Grove will be leaning on this season include Notre Dame commit Noah Coy, Southwestern Illinois Junior College commit AJ Beggs, and underclassmen Kobe Cherry and Gannon Grant. 

“Other guys who we need to fill last year’s starters are Cam Alford, Conor Liford, Cal Schembra, and Andrew Krupa,” Hatfield said. “There are a lot of innings to fill on the mound this year and we will need 5-6 guys to step up and take those.”

Center Grove is more known for it’s football program — 5 state championships since 2008 — and basketball program, which recently won it’s third Johnson County Tournament in the last four years, but it’s baseball program has come on strong as of late. 

“Our parents have high expectations of their kids and I think our athletes thrive on that,” Hatfield said. “The other main reason is our strength and conditioning coach, Marty Mills. When I arrived at CG in 2014, it only took a couple weeks for me to see that he is one of the main reasons our athletes are what they are.  His weight room environment will rival most Universities and our players love it.”

“In 2018, we started to have meetings to create Center Grove Travel Baseball,” Hatfield said. “It is made up of kids strictly living in Center Grove, or going to a Center Grove school. Even as a community-based program, our teams are competitive and winning in all the same tournaments as the traditional travel ball programs. As a baseball guy, I love to hear it! Part of the reason why I started writing these baseball focused articles is because I personally feel that Indiana has some of the best amateur baseball talent in the Midwest.”

“There are Indiana baseball players scattered throughout the entire Power 5 baseball rosters and any given night in March, April, and May, you can turn on the TV or ESPN+ and easily find a college game with players from Indiana,” Hatfield said. Baseball in Indiana has never been stronger from top to bottom. Indiana boys can play!”

Center Grove will kick off its baseball season on March 30 against Homestead.