Hannahs: ISU got bad break
WHEELING — It was not the outcome he had hoped for; as a result, Mitch Hannahs left Nashville with a sense of disappointment. He felt his team was dealt a bad hand.
The Skyvue High athletic legend is the head coach of the Indiana State baseball team. The Sycamores qualified for the NCAA Tournament, being placed in the Nashville Regional along with powerhouse Vanderbilt, Ohio State and McNeese State.
Indiana State opened the double-elimination event with a win over McNeese State before losing to Vandy, the nation’s No. 2-ranked team.
The Sycamores bounced back and eliminated the Buckeyes before being ousted by the Commodores.
Indiana State ended a brilliant season with a 43-18 mark, capturing the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title along the way.
“We knew going into the regional it was going to be tough. We realize how good Vanderbilt is. They beat us in the regular season and they play very well at home,” he said. “What is disappointing is when we looked around at the other regionals, we felt we could have done really well in several of them.
“When we won our conference tournament it probably bumped us from a high No. 3 seed to a low No. 2 seed, which ironically may have hurt us by placing us in Nashville,” he added. “But all in all it was a positive experience for our program. It will help us down the road.”
Hannahs said beating Ohio State in the regionals took on no added significance.
“Other than being an elimination game, beating them (Ohio State) was no big deal,” Hannahs noted. “We play a lot of Big 10 teams in the regular season. To have our program where it needs to be we must be able to compete with the Big 10 schools.”
This marked the seventh time Hannahs guided his alma mater to the NCAA Tournament. The Sycamores last qualified for the event in 2014.
“Making the NCAA Tournament was one of our goals going into this season,” he added. “We had a veteran group capable of doing some good things. I would have been disappointed if we didn’t make the tourney.”
While the Sycamores will lose some talented and veteran performers, Hannahs is not looking at next season as a rebuilding one.
“The turnover of players really hurts. We are losing a lot of kids who have been through the wars. Now a lot of those kids next year haven’t been in the fight,” Hannahs offered. “I just found out our shortstop was drafted in the 27th round by the Cleveland Indians. So that will be a big loss.
“But we feel like we can teach them some things and coach them up. We do have some talent returning,” he added. “We will spend most of the summer recruiting. Then we get a little break before school starts.”
Hannahs scripted a prep career of epic proportions. He helped lead Skyvue to the state tournament in both basketball and baseball.
Hannahs, now age 51, went on to script a Hall of Fame baseball career at Indiana State.
Hannahs served as an assistant coach at Indiana State under legendary head coach Bob Warn, coaching the Sycamores from 1995-99 and again in 2001. He then became head coach at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., for nine seasons where he led the Statesmen to regional titles in 2005 and 2007, and the Great Rivers Athletic Conference championship in 2006 and 2007.
His playing days at Indiana State were nothing short of star-studded.
A four-year letter-winner from 1986-89, Hannahs finished his career on the diamond with a .376 batting average, 274 hits, 34 doubles, 23 triples, 11 home runs, 220 runs scored, 138 runs batted in and 77 stolen bases. An American Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball America All-American in 1989, Hannahs led the team with a .428 batting average, 101 hits and 76 runs scored in his senior season as the Sycamores claimed the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship.
It came as no surprise that Hannahs was inducted into the 19th Indiana State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. After his stellar ISU career, he was a 16th round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, playing in their farm system from 1989-93.
Hannahs is the second winningest coach in Indiana State baseball history.
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