BY DEAN HOCKNEY
RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. – Fresh off of having an IHSAA Class 3A state baseball championship medal draped around his neck, Western graduate Adam Bolen received a second honor – he was named to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North All-Star squad. He is the 12th Panther selected and the first since current assistant coach Quentin Brown in 2005.
“It feels good and I am glad I was recognized,” said Bolen, shortly after learning of the recognition at the June Western school board meeting. “But still, I am glad we won state as a team.”
Bolen earned the honors after a season that saw the shortstop bat .373, second on the squad to junior All-State selection Marcus Pingleton’s .375. Bolen, who is undecided on his college choice, ripped 40 hits his senior season, with six doubles, five home runs and a team leading 25 RBIs. He also tallied 32 runs.
The 2012 Indiana High School Baseball All-Star Series will be played at the 2,200-seat Alvin C. Ruxer Field in Jasper on July 14-15, with an awards banquet on July 13. The complex is considered a jewel of southern Indiana baseball.
“It is going to be a great experience,” said Bolen of playing in Jasper. “I haven’t played down there, but I hear it is a very nice place to play baseball. I am excited to see the field and play.”
Bolen also commented on the return trip from Indianapolis after the Panthers captured the state championship on June 15.
“It was late when we got back so I didn’t really do anything that night,” he said. “But the whole weekend, everyone was calling and congratulating me. It felt great because people I didn’t even know were coming up to me. It is a great feeling to know we have that many Western supporters.”
Bolen joins two current Panther coaches who also hold the honor of being Indiana All-Stars. Varsity assistant coach Quentin Brown dressed for the North team in 2005 and junior varsity head coach Caden Cline donned the uniform in 2004. In addition, Western Athletic Director Ryan Berryman coached the 2011 squad as the head coach at Northwestern.
“I was just really excited to be put in that special class of players,” said Bolen. “They (Brown and Cline) told me it was a great experience, and I should enjoy everything about it.”
Cline said he remembers everything about being an Indiana All-Star and is excited that Bolen was chosen to represent the northern part of Indiana.
“It is very prestigious to be an All-Star. There are only 60 kids from the state who play, so that is just excellent,” said Cline. “It was an awesome experience, and he will play in the same place I played in. It is a great facility down there in Jasper. He will have a great time and he will bond with those guys and get some good exposure.”
Cline noted that Western has a solid output of strong baseball players, especially in the last decade.
“Western has a great tradition,” he said. “In the last 10 years, Quentin and I and both (Tad and Matt) Reida’s were chosen, although Matt didn’t go. And now Adam. It shows we have some great talent in this area. You can add in Bryan Beachy (Northwestern 2011) and Nolan Sanburn (Kokomo 2010) and T.J. Weir (Kokomo 2010) and it shows the huge talent we have in Howard County.”
With Western claiming the 2012 Class 3A title and owning a county record 15 sectional championships, Cline hopes this will encourage the next generation of Western players to want to achieve the same type of success.
“This program has a huge amount of talent, starting with the Russiaville youth league (three Final Four teams in the annual Howard County tournament),” he said. “And it continues to build and I believe this program is on the upward swing. After the state championship, kids are going to see the work it takes and how much fun it is to get to this point. I think they will start taking that in and will want to get back here to a state championship.”
But for now, the Panthers will continue to celebrate the state championship. And one former player will play in his final high school baseball series before heading off to college – and Adam Bolen will cherish every moment of that time on the diamond.