HILLARY SMITH: Longevity proves fruitful for college chances

2013-07-21T20:15:00Z HILLARY SMITH: Longevity proves fruitful for college chancesHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
July 21, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

Andrean baseball coach Dave Pishkur is a Cubs fan, so for him to be seen in a skybox at a White Sox game was already a feat unto itself.

At that baseball game, coaches from around the Midwest chatted about the possibility of a showcase, a way to hand pick players from across their own states and play against each other for regional supremacy. Bring in a few college coaches to look and the stakes rise.

Thirteen seasons later, Pishkur is the only coach from the meeting still involved, but the week of games has expanded from an original six states at the first Midwest Classic to 16 teams from 14 states that are begging to participate.

The tournament begins Tuesday in Plainfield, Ill., as Pishkur will take seven players from the region to join the 19-member Team Indiana for three days of games.

"These are all underclassmen still vying for a college scholarship," Pishkur said. "Last year, every kid that we had on the team that graduated went on to play college baseball somewhere."

The tournament has grown to the point college coaches are requesting players to see. It's a one-stop shop for college teams with roster spots to fill.

"We pick the team from across the state; it's usually me and an assistant that select it," Pishkur said. "We get some input from Purdue, IU, Ball State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State. Some coaches simply call us up and tell us that this is somebody they'd like to see. So we bring them. All the kids don't have a school already.

On the roster from the region are Matt Kubacki and Tyler Sufana from Chesterton, Nick Podkul from Andrean, Alec Olund of Lake Central, Crown Point's Noah Burkholder, Larry Crisler from Bishop Noll and Evan Miller of LaPorte.

For the pitchers to play as many innings as possible, and to have all the pitchers throw at least once, Team Indiana will play beginning at 1 p.m. Tuesday and play twice Wednesday and another game Thursday before the fields are turned over to the second set of states participating.

"There are even some pro scouts there who want to see specific kids, so that's even better," Pishkur said.

In the last 12 years, 24 have been drafted, including 21 into a Major League franchise and another three into an independent league.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

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