10th rd - Tucker Barnhart
Brownsburg's Tucker Barnhart Sets the Standard
By duncan @ 5:46 PM :: 1823 Views
By Mike Moreci
Go to any game in Brownsburg’s conference and you will likely to see junior catcher Tucker Barnhart in the stands. He’s the one watching every hitter with intense concentration, breaking his focus only to jot down the occasional note.
“I study our biggest conference teams whenever we don’t have a game,” Barnhart said. “I go to games and I chart stuff, I watch hitters, take notes. I like to know how hitters react in counts.”
Talking to Barnhart you get the impression that you’re speaking more to an assistant coach than a player. But don’t be mistaken: Barnhart’s a player. Quite possibly the best catcher in the state. Yet he’s also what many would call a student of the game, even though that phrase doesn’t quite do justice for the 5-foot-10, 182-pound Barnhart.
He’s a baseball junkie, carrying on a strong familial tradition. Both his grandfather and father played baseball, as well as his uncles. Some of Barnhart’s fondest childhood memories, in fact, were of watching ball games on his grandmother’s television while keeping score.
Brownsburg coach Pat O’Neil has had his eye on Barnhart since he was in seventh grade. What really stood out to O’Neil, even at that age, wasn’t so much Barnhart’s talent. It was his pure love for the game, which has only grown since.
“He’s a baseball rat,” O’Neil said. “Whatever we do, he’s the first one there and the last one to leave.”
Barnhart’s passion has certainly paid off. According to O’Neil, he’s been getting attention from high schools and scouts since he was 11 years old, back when he was considered one of the best shortstops in the country. Since then, he’s only gotten better. In 2007, the switch-hitting Barnhart batted .417 with 10 homers, 9 doubles and 39 RBI. He had a .986 fielding percentage and forced runners to think twice about attempting to steal against his consistent sub-1.9 pop time. In recognition for his stellar play, Louisville Slugger honored him with a spot on their 2008 pre-season All-American roster.
“With everything that’s been going on, it can be overwhelming,” Barnhart said. “The nomination threw more weight on the season, though I try to put that stuff on the backburner. It’s great to have that title, but I have to worry about the season.”
This spring will mark Barnhart’s third season on Brownsburg’s varsity roster. Barnhart has always played up in age; it’s an experience he’s now using to help Brownsburg’s underclassmen adjust to life in varsity ball.
“We have some underclassmen who are going to play big role for us,” Barnhart said. “I took them aside and told them to relax and play the game; they’re here because they can play.”
Meanwhile, Barnhart has his own game that he’s always working on, striving for perfection. He wants to be an All-State catcher, he wants to hit .450, even .500. And, most of all, he wants to lead his team. Last season, Brownsburg was ranked No. 4 in the state but was upset in sectional play. With a host of talent returning—including LHP-CF Alex Berlin and Indiana State-bound RHP Mark Conover—Barnhart may be within arms reach of another goal: state champion.