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Stars on the rise
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

BNL coach believes team is improving

By SEAN DUNCAN

sean@tmnews.com

BEDFORD – Bedford North Lawrence baseball coach Jerry Chaney sat in his empty classroom at Oolitic Middle School Tuesday afternoon reflecting on the 2012 season.

A season which came to an end Monday morning when the Stars fell in the second round of the Jeffersonville Sectional to the host and eventual sectional champion Red Devils, 6-1.

“I’m disappointed we lost in the sectional semifinals, but I’m proud of my kids,” Chaney said. “The last two years we have been beaten by the sectional champ. It’s not like we’re getting beat by somebody who is not any good; We’ve been beaten by two quality teams. And that game could have gone either way. Maybe it will be different at our place.”

BNL (16-12-1) has recorded back-to-back winning seasons in Chaney’s first two years at the helm, and he believes the program is headed in the right direction.

“We went from 14 wins to 16 wins and we get into the semifinals of the sectional,” Chaney said. “Our sectional is as tough as any in the state of Indiana, We had three teams that were ranked in the top 10 (Jeffersonville, New Albany and Seymour) this year.

“I feel like the win we got in the sectional this year was like a regional win in the early 90s and 80s. I don’t think people understand the quality of 4A baseball now. To win a sectional in our bracket we are going to have to do some great things.

“The program is improving. We’re seeing improvement in the wins. We’re seeing improvement in the kids and I’m excited about the future.”

There is still room for improvement on both sides of the plate for the Stars.

Errors plagued BNL throughout the regular season and the Stars struggled at the plate at times with the bats, hitting .264 as a team.

“The kids who made errors this season, I can’t say they made them because of lack of hustle,” Chaney said. “We made some errors early, but then we get into the sectional and play nine innings and don’t make one.

“The biggest thing we have to improve is our offensive production. We hit .264 as a team as compared to last year when we hit .335 and almost broke the school record, but we’ll get better.”

Eight seniors saw their high school careers come to a close Monday as well in Nik Bailey, Jay Thomas, Reece Ikerd, Graham George, Jason Green, Tyler Webb, Josh Stroud and Clay Blackburn.

“We have eight quality men that are leaving our program,” Chaney said. “They’re going to be great dads and they’re going to be people we can all look up to.

“Nik (.419 batting average) and Jay (.393) have been there from the start and they bought into a new coach,” Chaney said. “They bought into my system and did everything I asked them to do. They’re talented baseball players and great kids.

“Reece Ikerd (.316) got off to a rough start and by the end of the year was a bat we couldn’t take out of the lineup. And he’s a great academic kid, who carries close to a 4.0 average.

“Jason Green, who has a great GPA as well, works hard and loves the game of baseball.

“Graham George, who moved in, is a kid I wish I would have had more time with because from Day 1 he has been there. He fit in with the kids and he’s just a great individual.

“Josh Stroud overcame some obstacles to get where he’s at as well. He worked extremely hard to earn that starting position in left field for the sectional.

“Clay Blackburn is an extremely hard worker. His defense improved daily and he was always willing to sacrifice for the good of the team.

“And of course there is Tyler Webb, who I’ve coached since he was probably seven. He lost his father (Eddie) when he played for me in junior high. Tyler is special to me as well.”

The cupboard will be far from bare for the Stars next season, who will return a number players as well as promising new faces to the 2013 roster.

“We bring back arguably our best pitcher in Tanner Tow,” Chaney said. “He finished 5-5 with a 2.63 ERA, so we have a lot of arm there.

“We’ll have Derek Pritchett back (3.04 ERA) and Lane Barrett (7.30), who threw a lot of innings for us.

“We’ll have Blaze Byrer coming up, who is another tall, left-handed pitcher.

“My son, Josh Chaney, who saw a lot of time behind the dish, will be back as well as Trey Ikerd, who hit .316 this season, and Danny Busch, who played a lot at second base.

“In the outfield, we’ll have Chandler Nicholson, who as a freshman on the JV team hit around .350 with a couple of home runs, and Dillon Hensley and Barrett will be back.”

Preparation for next season gets under way this summer for BNL, which has 27 games slated.

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” Chaney said. “We’ll shut it down on the back side of August and come back in September and get them going again.”

Times-Mail Sports Editor Sean Duncan welcomes comments at 277-7283 or sean@tmnews.com.