By Mike Beas
Nineteen years is a long time.
In the almost two decades that passed between Brownsburg winning the state Little League baseball championship, programs from other parts of the state soaked up the spotlight.
Now what’s old is new again.
Last month, the Brownsburg squad of 12 year olds punched its ticket to the Great Lakes Regional, which runs from Aug. 8-14 in Whitestown. Two teams from the six-team field advance to the largest of stages, the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Brownsburg sent clubs to the ultimate showcase in 1999 and 2001 — long before the current team’s players were born. The program also won state in 2000 and 2002, establishing a four-year dominance in Indiana that is unrivaled in an event dating back to 1957.
“I remember watching those teams on TV, and we moved to Brownsburg in 2003 to raise our kids,” said Brownsburg manager Kirk LeBlanc, whose squad has outscored its eight postseason opponents by a total of 58-8. “The coolest part of this is just watching the kids. It’s been so fun to watch them grow and get better.”
Brownsburg outscored four foes by a total of 23-0 at the state tournament in Munster.
Leblanc’s starting lineup consists of Colin Jones (.600 postseason batting average), Canyon Koonce (.435), Karsten LeBlanc (.368), Luke Regashus (.588), Noah Bergstrom (.353), Brayden Greathouse (.294), Chase Wilson (.400), Jace Neddenriep (.400) and Luke Fields (.692).
Top backups are Austin Braun, Stokley Leininger, Crew Brown and Skyler Rose.
As a team, Brownsburg is hitting at a .412 clip the last eight games. Pitchers have joined forces to strike out 63 batters in only 42 innings, good for an ERA of 0.67.
A portion of Brownsburg’s philosophy traces back to when LeBlanc’s wife Krystee served as athletic trainer for the North Central High School girls basketball program. The Panthers were coached by eventual Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Alan Vickrey, whose philosophy read something like this: Even if you’re having a bad day offensively, good defense keeps you in games.
“We have preached defense since Day 1,” said LeBlanc.
The last names have changed since the last time Brownsburg Little League took care of business at the state level. Families have moved in, others moved away. The community pride, however, remains as constant as the program’s purple and white uniforms.
This group of players, managed by LeBlanc along with assistants Jon Regashus and Jim Bergstrom, are determined to keep the dream alive.
“I’ve been involved with Brownsburg Little League for 12 years, but the three (current) coaches have been with this group of kids since they were 8 years old,” said Regashus, who spent nine years as athletic director at Danville High School before stepping away at the conclusion of the 2019-20 school year.
“We’ve known that this is a talented group,” said Regashus. “As 10 year olds, they were runner-up at the state tournament.”
That was two years ago. This is now.
History, perhaps, awaits.
Brownsburg Little League honors late coach Green
Brownsburg Little League 12 and under baseball team members dedicated its Indiana State Championship victory against Silver Creek on July 25 to former coach Rick Green Sr.
Green, 58, of Brownsburg, passed away July 23 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was an architect working for Axis Architecture. An avid baseball fan, he had served on the Brownsburg Little League Baseball Board for 28 years and was an IHSAA official and member of the Indiana Officials Association.
Contributions may be made to the Brownsburg Little League Baseball, P.O. Box 203, Brownsburg, IN 46112.