RICHMOND, INDIANA — Eaton High School has something to be proud of this summer in their baseball alumni — two graduates are continuing their baseball careers with the Richmond Jazz.
In addition, a player from Miami University in Oxford is on the roster for the 2016 summer team. Representing both Eaton and Miami is catcher Chayse Hood. Eaton graduate, pitcher Kyle Shepherd, represents Adrian College. Miami Redhawk outfielder Julian Flanary, from Indianapolis, is also on the team.
The three are making strides to improve their game and aim for championship play at the next level.
Flanary is a senior outfielder who played in 27 games, starting in 15 of them. He was a two-year co-captain from Lawrence North high school in Indianapolis, where in 2012, he was rated the 18th best baseball player in Indiana.
“I was lucky to land a spot on this team close to Miami and close to home,” Flanary said. “I’m here with a few Miami guys. This type of summer baseball is great, in that most collegiate teams send players out to play ball after the season is done. It’s a great opportunity to work on my game, keep in shape, and continue to get better for the next season. Richmond has a cool stadium and there are a lot of fans that provide quite an exciting atmosphere.
“My season is going pretty good,” he said. “I had a slow start but am looking forward to ending a great season. The coaches here have been working a lot with me and I’m enjoying every minute of it. Here, I can develop my game in a more relaxed atmosphere and work on things I need to work on. It’s not as intense to win as school ball, but the exposure is great because there are lot of scouts here and I’m able to play in pressure situations in front of a lot of fans.”
Shepherd was a three-sport athlete at Eaton and is pitching for Adrian College in Michigan.
“I started out at Mount St. Joseph College in Cincinnati, got injured summer of my freshman year playing at North Carolina,” Shepherd said. “I transferred to Sinclair Community College at Dayton for a year and switched to Adrian College a year later. I plan on graduation next spring in exercise science.
“I’m just trying to get better and improve my game,” Shepherd continued. “I’m living at home right now for the summer so it’s great to be playing here in Richmond while I’m able to make some money here working for the city while playing . My parents and family are my fan base — they come to every game and some friends like to show up as well.”
“The summer had some ups and downs for me,” Shepherd said. “Some of the starts didn’t go as I wanted, but I’m getting better. Having Chayse (Hood) behind the plate is good, he knows my playing style and I pitched with him when I was a freshman back in Eaton so it’s nice to be back with him — we’re always on the same page. “
Chayse Hood will be a junior with three years of eligibility remaining. He is also one of the oldest players on the Miami Redhawks roster. He served for four years with the U.S. Marines and was recently released with an honorable discharge before walking on at Miami in Oxford.
“I’ll be 25 soon. I graduated from Eaton in 2010, went to St Clair Community College for one year,” Hood said. “I didn’t get any offers from anyone so I joined the Marine Corps for four years. Served one combat tour in 2014 and got out of the Corps in 2015 and ended up as a walk on at Miami.”
“It took me a while to get to Richmond Jazz because I couldn’t really find a team in Cincinnati, so I ended up getting hold of Kyle (Shepherd) who said they could use me here; this is my second week here,” Hood added. “My batting is going very well. My timing and techniques are getting better, it took me a bit to get there, but the work is paying off.
“Eaton was a long time ago, but it was fun playing there,” he said. “I think a person doesn’t get a lot of looks because it’s such a small school, but I enjoyed it. Miami has great facilities — looking to win the MAC.”
Hood added, “The transition is great, being able to go home every two weeks compared to my time in the Marines where I was lucky to go home twice a year. It’s nice being home and seeing the family.”
The Richmond Jazz is a summer volunteer baseball program which brings in collegiate players to help play ball during the summer. Teams such as the Jazz are not part of the professional minor leagues or any sort of farm system for the NCAA.
Deanna Beaman is the general manager of the Jazz, and is a veteran of local baseball. “The Jazz are members of the Great Lakes League — this is our first year,” she said. “The league has been around for a very long time. Our focus is on player development and summer baseball for kids in our area. Each team is responsible to recruit their own players; they sign a contract but they do not get paid at all. We play a 40-game schedule, 20 home, 20 away.”
“I’ve been in this business for over 15 years,” Beaman said. “I worked for Richmond Roosters in 2004, was general manager for the River Rats for 8 years and transitioned as an owner for the Jazz. We want to try and keep baseball in the market for kids, and for the players at the college level. We want the players to move on to the next level.”
“We have a website for information,” Beaman noted. “Tickets are general admission.”
Schedules, rosters, ticket prices and other information about the Richmond Jazz can be found online at richmondjazzbaseball.com.
Reach Oliver Sanders at 937-683-4062 or at Twitter @osanders_RH