First-year Hamilton Southeastern varsity baseball coach Scott Henson has big goals, and he’s already started taking steps to get the Royals headed in the right direction. He implemented a strenuous drill in the off season. He calls it the Royals Baseball Victory Challenge 2012. It is somewhat of a “baseball boot camp” if you will.

“The last two years in the HSE system I noticed a lack of toughness, and I knew that we had to get stronger and be tougher both physically and mentally,” said Henson. “I didn’t take lifting weights and becoming physically stronger as I should have years ago. Now, I know how important it is, and I want these kids to be as fit as they possibly can.”

Henson said his goal is to get the Southeastern program back – back to prominence, to where it was in the days he played against the Royals.
“Hamilton County baseball has always been good and tough, and I used to marvel at how structured the HSE program was and how well they performed,” he said. “In college, you have the Omaha Challenge where everyone is trying to reach the College Baseball World Series” said Henson. “Our Victory Challenge is something we want to accomplish – to get to Victory Field in Indianapolis for the state finals.” That’s a road HSE baseball has yet to follow.

The program has produced 11 sectional championships, the last coming in the 2003-04 season. The trophy case includes 4 regional crowns, the last also coming in the 2003-04 campaign. Henson believes he knows what it takes to win, be a constant winner, and help prepare kids for college and a chance to play baseball at the next level.

“One thing I want to impress on our kids is that when a scout calls or comes to see them play, the kids need to be sure they make time for them and to always be respectful. If they don’t like the school or might be waiting for another offer, then they need to be up front with the scouts and not waste their time.”

The Royals return with a strong pitching staff. One returning familiar face is Steven Curry, who threw a no-hitter in the 2010-11 season but missed last season because of knee surgery. Senior Mitch Roman, son of Dan Roman, the new baseball coach at Carmel, is a three-year starter in the infield and a solid hitter; and junior outfielder Tre Gantt has already made a verbal commitment to Cincinnati.

Henson also is high on pitcher/first-baseman Brendan Burns, a lanky 6-foot-5 southpaw hitter; pitcher Nathan Upchurch; and Roman, who moves from second to shortstop (replacing Wes Edrington, who decided to graduate early in December, passing up his senior season of baseball to report to Nebraska). He thinks all could have a chance to play at the Division I level in college.

Henson, who grew up in Pendleton, graduated in 1991, and was a catcher on the Pendleton Heights baseball team wants to know how it feels to reach Victory Field, home of the Triple-A Indians. “I was on a regional championship team at Pendleton, and we came close to winning a semi-state; we just never fulfilled our dream,” said Henson, who went on to play collegiately at the University of Indianapolis and IUPUI. “I think more than anything, more than individual glory, that I wanted us to do it for our coach, Bill Stoudt, an Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame coach.”

He’ll also have another Hall of Fame coach to impress (only this one will be sitting next to him), former Hamilton SE coach Ken Seitz, who along with son Kory Seitz will serve as assistants again this season. “When you have a chance to learn from two Hall of Fame coaches, it doesn’t get much better than that,” said Henson, who pointed out he looks forward to bouncing ideas off coach Seitz.

Henson, who had a couple workouts with the Chicago Cubs and spent a lot of time working out with former Indianapolis minor-league great Razor Shines, said he hurt his back during his final year of college. He eventually signed a contract and spent some time with a Single-A Independent team. Henson spent a few years as the hitting coach in North Carolina at Northern Nash (Rocky Mountain HS), has coached catchers, and has gone to the final 4 twice in five seasons.

“My wife and I just wanted to get back home to be with family and friends,” he said. “I told my wife that my goal was to be a head baseball coach in Indiana in two seasons. “When I finished high school, I had a chance to go out of state and play college ball, but my family came first,” said Henson. His sister, Jessica, passed away at age 13 during his senior year. “I just couldn’t leave mom and dad. It was hard later on to move away, too. Now, I’m just happy we’re back home.”

Henson calls the HSE job one of the top in Indiana. “I plan to stay here. This is where I want to be,” he said.

Welcome home, Coach!