When Mark Schellinger called Hunter Robinson a few days ago with the news that he had been named to the North All-Star team, the New Prairie baseball coach had a little more joy to share with his standout pitcher-third baseman.
The Northern Indiana Conference Player of the Year will be joined for the three-game series in Madison by Schellinger, the NIC Coach of the Year, who was chosen to be a part of the North staff.
"I wasn't expecting that news, it was pretty shocking," Robinson said. "Then when he said he'd be coaching, it was like the cherry on top. I'm happy for him. He's one of the best coaches in the area. I owe coach Schellinger quite a lot, the values he instilled since we were freshmen, the way he wants you to play the game. I compare him to one other coach I've ever had as far as how they taught me to play the game the right way. It shows in the amount of growth of our senior class. Freshman to senior year, we improved physically and mentally. The strides we made were because of his coaching."
Robinson hit .360 with four home runs, 10 doubles and 27 RBI. On the mound, he was 9-2 with a 0.71 ERA, striking out 117 in 69 1/3 innings.
"There's been a huge improvement in our program and Hunter was one of those guys four years ago we were counting on," Schellinger said. "He not only met those expectations, he exceeded them. He excelled on the mound. We could play with anybody when he was out there and that was only a small part of his contribution. He was our three hitter and he played a fearless third base. He didn't have any errors at third base and he's been that way for three years."
Beyond the numbers for Robinson, Schellinger lauded his leadership on and off the field, a blessing for him as a new coach four years ago.
"It was clear as a freshman how important baseball was to him," Schellinger said. "He set the tone for the program. He and that whole group of seniors made it easy for me to bring in a lot of the philosophies I wanted to bring in. He was an extension of the coaching staff. This year was a lot of fun, not just because we won — winning helps anything — but because I could share it with such a good group of guys and good families."
Suffice it to say, having Robinson along will make the all-star experience that much nicer for Schellinger.
"I wouldn't have this opportunity without the success we had this year," Schellinger said. "It's been some time since we've had a (New Prairie) kid in the game. To have a player make it to that level and to be able to share it with him as a coach, it's just awesome."
Schellinger won't be the only familiar face for Robinson. Past travel ball teammates Grant Jablonski (Mishawaka) and Matt Dutkowski (NorthWood) were also selected for the North squad.
"Going into the year, I had high expectations for myself, but I didn't know where all the hard work during the season and in the off-season would take me," Robinson said. "I'm extremely blessed to be put on the all-star team."
Robinson won't be La Porte County's sole representative as South Central's Kyle Schmack was selecetd as a third baseman.
"I'm really excited," Schmack said. "I haven't seen a roster or anything, but I'm sure it'll be a great bunch of players. I'm just happy for the experience."
Schmack said Satellites coach Ryan Kruszka had told him and teammate Carson Husmann that he had nominated both of them for consideration.
"We were focused on the season, not on any accolades," Schmack said. "Coach Kruszka said there will be a lot of good (future) college arms, so I'm sure it'll be a good warmup for the summer and college."
Madison High School and Hanover College will host the June 21-23 festivities, which include a banquet the first night, a Saturday doubleheader and a Sunday single game. Governor Eric Holcomb will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the third game.