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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 10:40 pm

Ivy Tech to begin baseball program

GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette

Lance Hershberger is getting his chance to build another collegiate baseball program. 

The veteran coach will lead the way as Ivy Tech Northeast is reportedly starting a program that will play in the National Junior College Athletic Association. 

"It's a two-year school, so it is going to be a junior college team," Hershberger said by phone Tuesday. "We have already sent a letter of intent to the NJCAA, and on June 1 that's when we can actually send in our fees and stuff and become a member."

Hershberger started the program at Indiana Tech, an NAIA institution.

"I just keep turning up as a bad penny," Hershberger said, jokingly. "I am the Larry Brown of Fort Wayne baseball.

"It's what I do, and it's what I am good at. I can say I was the founder of two college baseball programs within the same city. You don't often get to say that."

He has also coached high school baseball at Bishop Dwenger and Concordia. Hershberger is also involved with the StrikeZone Training Center in Fort Wayne and also coached travel teams.

Ivy Tech Northeast has called a news conference for today to officially announce the new program, which will be the first intercollegiate athletic program on any Ivy Tech campus, Hershberger said.

"A junior college program is great for Fort Wayne and the area," Hershberger said. "We have a lot of kids go to junior college away and now we will try to keep those guys in town and play here and try to move them on. Your focus is a little bit different ... junior college you still want to win, but I tell the kids we want to instruct you and prepare you to move onto a four-year college and continue your career."

Hershberger said he and his staff of four assistants have been already been recruiting. Northrop's Alec Agler has already signed to play with Ivy Tech, according to the high school.

According to a news release, the new program will be eligible to award scholarships under certain criteria, and recruitment began earlier this spring, the college said.

Hershberger, who is being inducted into the Northeast Baseball Association Hall of Fame on Sunday, said the program will be called the "Titans" and play as a probationary NJCAA program, which means they will be ineligible for a national championship the first season.

He said the Titans will play initially at Shoaff Park as Ivy Tech is constructing a field near its north campus behind the Innovation Center on Stellhorn Road.

Hershberger said state representative Bob Morris played a part in bringing the baseball program to Ivy Tech.

gjones@jg.net