Although John Hutchinson hadn’t connected with his former teammate from Preble Shawnee for several years, he reached out to Ty Neal about conducting a baseball clinic for the Preble Shawnee Youth Baseball League.
Neal, who excelled in baseball, basketball and football for the Arrows, didn’t hesitate to say yes.
“I thought it would be good to get him back out here. I figured he would like to give back to the community. I called him and he was real excited,” Hutchinson said.
Neal, who hadn’t been back to Preble Shawnee in nearly 19 years, was regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in college baseball and was named the University of Cincinnati’s 27th baseball head coach on June 7, 2013.
Neal, an assistant coach, and several players were on hand to conduct the clinic.
Neal, a native of West Elkton, spent the previous eight seasons at Indiana University as the program’s top assistant and recruiting coordinator. Neal helped direct the Hoosiers to their first appearance at the College World Series in 2013.
“Honestly, I’ve been waiting to do it forever,” Neal said of returning home. “I had such a great experience here in high school. I’ve been back once or twice, not much.”
He said hosting the clinic was important.
“I want to start doing it every year. I’m just trying to give back. Johnny approach me about doing it to raise some funds to help with their facility,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer for me.”
Neal said he wasn’t sure where his life’s path was going to take him.
“I still pinch myself at the opportunity to be the head coach of the Bearcats. I’m still kind of chasing that dream,” he said. “I honestly wanted to come back and be the Athletic Director at Preble Shawnee. That’s what I wanted to do. It’s back to the reason I’m here tonight. I wanted to make a difference for other high school students. I fell into coaching at this level my senior year at Miami.”
He was previously an assistant for the Bearcats in 2004 and both played and coached at Miami (Ohio).
During Neal’s eight seasons with the Hoosiers, he became known as one of the best teachers and recruiters in the game. He spent two years as the team’s infield and third-base coach and oversaw all development of position players from 2009-10. In 2011, he returned to his duties as the team’s pitching coach, a position he held from 2006-08. He was also IU’s recruiting coordinator, and helped recruit 16 undrafted players out of high school that turned into Major League Baseball Draft Picks from 2008-10.
During his time at IU, the Hoosiers won a pair of Big Ten Conference Tournament titles, IU’s first regular-season conference championship since 1949 and the first outright league title in 81 years. During Neal’s tenure, Indiana advanced to a pair of NCAA Regionals, one NCAA Super Regional and a College World Series, the first in program history. Fifteen players earned First-Team All-Big Ten honors, eight were All-America selections, eight were freshmen All-America honorees, two were named league player of the year and one earned Big Ten Pitcher of the Year accolades.
During his coaching career, Neal has mentored 18 pitchers who have been drafted in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft.
Neal wrapped up his playing career at Miami as a four-year letterwinner, earning 19 career victories. As a senior, he served as a team captain and was presented with the RedHawk Award. He was also named an All-American by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
This is his 15th season coaching at the Division I level.
He said the trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series has been one of highlights of his coaching career.
“It was unbelievable. That’s why we do it,” he said. “Quite frankly, once we got there I was upset we didn’t win it. I thought we could have. You try and play at the highest level and compete for championships.
The clinic was used a fundraiser for the PSYBL.
“It was a good turnout,” Hutchinson said of nearly 100 participants ranging from third grade to high school.
“For me it means a lot. To know I went to school with Ty and played basketball and football with him. It meant a lot to me to see him get that job. I know he put a lot of hard work into it,” Hutchinson said. “I think these kids seeing him working hard and achieving what he was working for that’s something they can learn from.”
Hutchinson said at the end of each session, Powerhouse Pizza supplied pizzas for the campers and staff.
Hutchinson would like to see the clinic turn into an annual event.
The clinic was a chance to raise money to help offset some of the cost to rehab the programs facilities in Camden and West Elkton.
“They are in bad shape,” Hutchinson said. “We’re looking for donations or however we can raise money. Hopefully, down the road, we’ve got a pretty big plan to rehab those fields, move them around, get more fields, so it’s a whole sports complex, with soccer, football and baseball. Hopefully, we can get them in shape where they are quality fields for the kids to use. Just because they are from Camden doesn’t mean they don’t have to have some nice facilities. You look at Eaton and the facilities around us they’ve been up-kept a little better and are in a little better shape. Hopefully, in the next three to four years we can get those fields in shape and looking good. It’s coming together.”
Neal said he hopes the kids had a good time, and he was hands-on during the clinic demonstrating several drills.
“It’s baseball. I’ve got to get dirty. If I’m not here having fun how can I expect these guys to have fun?”
Neal asked. “It was great. I love it.”