By David Fong
Regional Sports Editor
TIPP CITY — Ian Yunker wasn’t going to let a little thing like hard work scare him.
If anything, the senior pitcher on the Tippecanoe High School baseball team was looking for a college program that would demand more of him and push him to get better.
And Yunker found exactly that in Morehead State, where he signed his letter of intent to attend school and play baseball.
“I went down there for a camp late last summer and really liked it,” Yunker said. “They talk about themselves being a ‘blue collar’ team and how they work hard for everything, and that’s the way I’ve been my whole life. Plus, they are a really good team that is expected to win the (Ohio Valley Conference). That’s always the goal, to win a league championship.”
The fact that Yunker would end up playing Division I college baseball may have seemed preordained, given his baseball lineage as the grandson of Troy Post 43 legion baseball coaching legend Frosty Brown. The fact of the matter is, however, that Yunker put more pressure on himself to succeed than anyone else possibly could have.
“Since I was in middle school, and especially since I started high school and started getting good innings early in my career, I’ve been looking forward to the opportunity to play college baseball,” Yunker said. “I knew I would find someplace to play — if you are a baseball player, you can always find someplace to play — but I made it a goal for myself to play Division I. Frosty never put that expectation on me, to play Division I, that’s something I put on myself.”
As a junior last spring, Yunker went 6-1 with a 1.56 earned run average as he helped lead the Red Devils to a share of the Greater Western Ohio Conference American League North Division title. He led the team in strikeouts (57) and appearances (12), and was tied for the team lead in innings pitched (40.1).
As a sophomore, Yunker went 2-0 with one save and a minuscule 0.24 ERA, while recording 36 strikeouts in 29.2 innings pitched. He also has been a mainstay on his grandfather’s Post 43 teams in the summer.
“Ian is a kid who has grown up around baseball; his grandfather is a legend and Ian’s been tagging along since he’s a little kid,” Tippecanoe coach Bruce Cahill said. “Baseball has always been a part of his life. He understands the game and he’s only going to get better. He’s a kid with good velocity — he hit 86 (miles per hour) for us last spring, but he knows he’s also got some things in can work on and get better. He’s still got room to grow.”
Yunker said getting better location on his pitches is something he plans to work on this spring and summer before he leaves for college in the fall.
“A lot of people get caught up on velocity, and that helps, but along with that I realize I’m going to be playing Division I college baseball and there are a lot of small ballparks in the OVC. You’ve got to be able to set up your pitches and locate your pitches.”
Yunker is looking forward to the challenge of pitching in college — and the hard work that will come along with it.
“I’m not going to be on scholarship at first, because I was a late addition to their recruiting class,” he said. “But that’s probably better for me. I’m going to have to work for it and won’t come there settled in, expecting everything to come to me. They told me scholarships are going to be based on who performs. They are going to be looking for guys who are willing to work hard, and I want do be one of the guys who does.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong