The Elkhart Central baseball team is on a mission.
After winning back-to-back sectional championships, the Blue Blazers are setting their sights on a state title run. With a single game the difference between moving on (and possibly making school history) and going home, Central is glad to have the proverbial “ace in the hole.”
That ace is Tanner Tully, a 6-foot left-hander with dominating stuff.
“I like our chances whenever he's on the mound,” said Central coach Steve Stutzman.
Tully, a junior, features a spot-on fastball that touches near 89 miles per hour, a curveball, a changeup and is working on a slider. To put that repertoire in perspective, most high school pitchers are lucky to touch 80 with the heater.
“He basically tells hitters, 'Here's my fastball. Come get it,'” Stutzman said.
Tully’s success has gotten him quite a bit of attention from scouts. While he could be taken in the MLB Draft straight out of high school, he would like to go to college.
“I want to get an education in case I can't make it so I have something to fall back on,” Tully said.
The colleges will be happy to oblige. He’s been scouted by Butler, Louisville, Michigan State and Indiana just to name a few. But Tully’s ceiling doesn’t end there.
“I see him playing on TV,” Stutzman said, projecting his pitcher’s future. “If he continues with his work ethic and his ability, he should be playing at the next level. He wants to go to college and I think that's a good future for him, but after college, he definitely could play in the major leagues.”
While Tully shares his coach’s vision of making it to the highest level of professional baseball, he’s a man of few words and doesn’t seek out the spotlight.
“Tanner is a special young man that is very humble. He does not like to draw attention to himself. So we try to buffer that a little bit but he's a pretty level-headed kid,” said Stutzman. “In fact, he doesn't want any attention drawn to him but there is.”
For now, Tully is content to deflect that attention back to his team, which has a shot on Saturday to reach semi-state for the first time since 1988.
“We have a lot more memories to make, having fun and beating teams,” he said. “I like to win.”
“These kids expect that they'll be down at State,” Stutzman said. “That's what they've worked for, that's what their dreams are. So we're thinking and dreaming of big things.”
Saturday’s Regional Semi-Final against Lake Central is at 2pm EST at LaPorte High School. With a win, the Blazers will move on to the Regional Final (against the winner of the Penn vs. Valparaiso) at 8pm for a chance at Semi-State.