By Andy Amey
Jared Eller got to play baseball in Florida earlier this month, and he’s hoping that pays off in more baseball in his future.
The Terre Haute North High School senior competed Oct. 10-12 at Flagler College in St. Augustine in an 18-team tournament sponsored by Under Armour. He was the only Indiana player selected for the competition from a recruiting showcase event at the University of Indianapolis almost two months ago.
Eller, who started at first base for the Patriots most of last season, played third base and pitched three innings for his team, getting one of its three wins in four games and helping it to a fifth-place finish.
“It helped me a lot,” Eller said recently. “It gave me an opportunity to play with kids I didn’t know and for coaches who hadn’t seen me … the level that they played at, it was unbelievable.
“It was a lifetime experience, and really prepared me for college.”
Eller hasn’t received any college offers yet from the exposure he received, although he indicated his family is starting to get a little more mail.
“[The scouts at the showcase] said they like my hitting power and my fielding ability,” the senior added. “I was very surprised [to be chosen for the Florida competition] because of all the talent that tried out.”
He’ll be approaching his final season with the Patriots with newfound enthusiasm, Eller indicated.
“Now I know what kind of potential I have, and that I have to play at the highest [level] of my abilities,” he said.
A confidence boost?
“Very big,” he answered.
• Illinois football playoff trivia — These facts come courtesy of Matt Troha at the IHSA.
Casey is the veteran team of the upcoming Class 2A playoffs, making its 24th appearance.
Marshall might be the luckiest team in the Class 2A playoffs. The Lions are the biggest school there, meaning that if one smaller school had qualified for the playoff field the Lions would have been the smallest school in 3A.
(I still remember, maybe almost 20 years ago by now, a Class 1A playoff appearance by Martinsville. The Bluestreaks were one of the smaller schools — and certainly had one of the smallest rosters — in the playoffs that year, but wound up playing at Virden, which had been considered a Class 2A championship contender all season until its enrollment dropped it into the 1A bracket. The ‘Streaks lost, but it was a fantastic game — in the snow, no less.)
Paris, one of the teams making its first playoff appearance, has the longest first-round trip in the Class 4A playoffs, 197 miles to Quincy Notre Dame.
• IU honors former Parke County coach, Red Devil star — Among the 50-year lettermen honored Saturday at the Indiana University homecoming football game was Tom Burgess of Marshall, Indiana.
Tom lettered as a sophomore in 1958 and went on to earn two more, becoming one of the few players in Hoosier history who lettered three times as a walk-on, without ever getting a football scholarship.
He is also a 1954 Lowell graduate who spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps before going to IU. He eventually became a head coach at Turkey Run and Fountain Central during the 1960s.
I don’t have my mom around as a fact-checker anymore, but if I have the family connections correct she was a good friend of Tom’s sister. His nephew, Glen Hutton — another current Parke County resident — was one of the linemen who kept me firmly glued to the Red Devil bench during our senior year.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at email@example.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.