As an eighth-grader, Jordan Jackson had a slight mishap trying to leap over a creek and broke his fibula.
Without one of its best players, the group that now makes up Crawfordsville baseball’s senior class went 14-2.
Those players now make up the Athenians’ nine-player senior group that is within a win of playing in the Class 3A state championship for the third time since 2008.
“I would say that showed me the love I have for the game of baseball,” said Jackson, a four-year starter. “When that happens, it’s expected that the next guy steps up and does his job. The next guy on the roster is ready to go whenever something happens.”
Jackson’s injury foreshadowed how the careers of several of his classmates would go.
Along with Jackson, Jake Zurawski is a four-year starter. Both were key pieces to Crawfordsville’s 2011 state championship as sophomores and are now the leaders of the largest senior class coach John Froedge has had in his 32 seasons.
The rest of the group consists of late bloomers and role players.
Take, for example, ace Chandler Pursell, who entered high school as a 5-foot-9 pitcher that Froedge and staff thought could be dynamite if he ever hit a growth spurt.
Pursell is now 6-4 and has won 11 straight decisions since dropping games to Mt. Carmel and Brother Rice, both out of Chicago.
“Because he is on the hill, there’s confidence (that) brings to the rest of the team,” Froedge said. “They understand you’ve got a guy on the hill that can lead you and keep you in every game.”
On the other side is Chase Justus, an all-conference pitcher a year ago who suffered an arm injury in the fall and has thrown just 11 innings his senior year.
There’s twins Cam and Joel Monroe. Joel serves as the team’s top pinch hitter. Jackson says he thrives for that moment.
Cam earned some spot starts as a sophomore, became a starter last year and this year has become the team’s top offensive player, posting a .400 batting average and .518 on-base percentage to go with 21 stolen bases, two home runs, 31 RBIs and 47 runs.
Speedy switch-hitting catcher Logan Meadows leads the team with 22 stolen bases and is hitting .303 with 28 RBIs.
“Logan brings a lot of different elements to the game,” Froedge said. “He’s small in stature but a great athlete to have behind the plate.”
Pinch runner extraordinaire Casey Reeves and relief pitcher Austin Turpin solidify a deep senior group.
Though the playing time is scarce for them, the other seniors realize the importance of their group staying together for the duration of their Crawfordsville baseball careers.
“They’ve accepted their role, and that’s a tough thing to do, especially as a senior,” Zurawski said. “But we need them here down the stretch.
“It’s great to have nine strong seniors who all have the same goal, and that’s to win the last game of the season.”