By Mike Beas
Transferring high schools is known to invite various forms of stress and uncertainty, particularly for those students with only one year remaining.
Darien Pugh, who attended Covenant Christian in Indianapolis from grades 9-11, placed himself in the middle of a sea of unfamiliar faces late last summer by switching to Cascade, a school that welcomed him with open doors.
Pugh graduated with a 3.7 grade-point average and was the baseball team’s starting shortstop and one of the Cadets’ top pitchers as the program soared to a 26-2 season that included several weeks at No. 1 in the Class 2A poll.
He finished with an eyebrow-elevating .507 batting average and other team bests at the plate such as most runs (57), RBI (47), triples (6) and home runs (4). Pugh also stole 48 bases – including five each in victories over Speedway and Lutheran – and complied a 9-1 pitching record.
Sixth-year Cascade baseball coach Ty Foster, whose squads played against Pugh when the latter was at Covenant Christian, was more than happy to have him in his program.
“We had run into Darien before at sectional. It was nice to have him on our side,” Foster said. “He was our only senior during preseason workouts, so we forced him to be more of a leader. We needed him to push his teammates, and he did.”
As a 10th-grader, Pugh helped Covenant Christian baseball post an 11-10 record, which, ironically, included a 7-0 win at Cascade. He will continue his academic and baseball careers at Indiana Wesleyan University, an NAIA program that just wrapped up a 44-14 season.
Pugh did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: After attending private schools all your life, what made you transfer to Cascade before the start of your senior year?
A: My parents were looking to move out that way at the time, and Cascade offered more college classes. The school was a lot of fun and a great community. Just the welcoming I received from the other students.
Q: Was this past baseball season as enjoyable as the 26-2 record suggest?
A: Yes. I felt like a lot of the kids on the team got along well and we had fun even during practices. The other seniors accepted me pretty quickly. I didn’t feel there was any alienation because I was new.
Q: What made you choose Indiana Wesleyan to play college baseball, and what will be your major?
A: I really liked the coaching and the chemistry in the baseball program. They’re probably going to have me at second base when I get there, but I have some experience playing second from summer travel ball. I’ll major in biology. The end goal is to be a radiologist. I really appreciate its place in the medicine world.