OXFORD, Ind. (WLFI) — When Jon Vernon took over the Benton Central baseball program five years ago, there wasn't a whole lot of winning to speak of.
That year, the Bison played in the Hoosier Conference's last place playoff game. Fast forward to 2019, Vernon and Benton Central were competing in the conference championship contest, thanks in large part to his four seniors in the 2020 class.
Kale Kottkamp pitched for Vernon's club and was a one year letterwinner. He plans on attending Indiana University Kokomo in the fall, and will run both Cross Country and Track.
Kolten Rider played second base and was a two year letterwinner. Rider plans on attending Vincennes College in the fall before transferring to Purdue.
Ethan Hallenbeck was a four year letterwinner and was the starting catcher. Hallenbeck plans on entering the workforce after graduating from Benton Central.
Alex Thurston was also a four year letterwinner, while pitching and playing short stop. Thurston's playing career isn't over yet. He will join the Valparaiso University baseball program in the fall.
Coach Vernon is proud of one simple attribute that these four guys brought to the table on a daily basis.
"You know when I came in five years ago, we had struggled a lot, we weren't very successful our first year. Once these kids came in, it just changed the way that things were in our program," said Vernon.
"You know the effort, the intensity, the attitude toward winning and getting better every day. That's the one thing that they tried to do every day, that we had a great opportunity to work with those kids, is that they worked on getting better every day."
"So they left our program in a better place than what it was you know, three or four years ago."