GREENFIELD — There is new leadership in the Greenfield-Central baseball program.

It’s a familiar face with a well-known last name.

Mitch Gibson takes over the reigns for Mark Vail.

Gibson played baseball at Greenfield-Central, graduating in 2014. He also played at Ball State University.

He was an assistant at Pendleton Heights High School under Travis Keesling — who he played for at G-C — in 2018-19, and coached summer baseball with the Indiana Nitro from 2018-23.

He is a cousin to major leaguer Kyle Gibson, now pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals.

His father, Mike Gibson, was the former head coach at Mt. Vernon in the early 2000s.

The new coach will have a lot of new faces. Eleven players graduated from last year’s club that went 15-11-2 overall and 8-6 with a fourth-place finish in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.

“I tell the boys this all the time, this isn’t a rebuild,” Mitch Gibson said. “There’s no such thing as a rebuild. Let’s hit the reset button, because it’s a new season and a new year.

“Whatever happened last year and the year before and the previous years, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is trying to carry through with the culture that was set many, many years ago, even prior to when my cousin Kyle being here. … In a nutshell, we’ve got a clean slate. That’s what I’d like to call it.”

Senior centerfielder Kirk Knecht and senior Landon Brooks are the most veteran of the 2024 group.

Knecht hit .367 a year ago with five doubles, 16 RBI, 22 runs scored and one home run. He did all that while doubling as a track star. He was an all-state long jumper last year.

Brooks, who played a lot of third base last season, had 21 hits, batted .273 and had four doubles.

Most of the others in the lineup will be relatively new.

Karson Gantt, a catcher, had 28 at-bats last season. Switch-hitting middle infielder Alex Sanchez made good work with his 30 ABs with two home runs. Kyle Oden hit .280 with three doubles in 25 at-bats. Zander Cobb, a junior, had limited time last year. Dylan Luther and Brady Johnson were also part of last year’s roster.

All are expected to have roles on this year’s club.

On the mound, the Cougars will have one of the state’s best underclass pitchers. Right-hander Parker Rhodes, a junior, has already committed to Xavier University. He struck out 40 batters in just 18.2 innings pitched.

“I’ve seen him at 90-91 (mph), last year and in the summer. He just went through a showcase a month ago and was 94-95,” coach Gibson said. “He’s really developed his body to taking that 90-91 mph fastball to 94-95. At the high school level, anything 93-95 you become a dominant pitcher. He’s got to keep the command and stay in control of the game and that’s something that I’m excited to see him work on throughout the spring.”

Brooks also has some pitching experience. He threw 15.1 innings last year, fanning 19 and walking only four.

Coach Gibson said he’s a big believer that if you have young talent, play them.

He said freshmen Cooper Safford, a 6-3 lefty that will pitch and play first base, outfielder Jacob Welch, and infielder/pitcher Gavin Markus, younger brother of recent graduate Jaden Markus, will all play right away.

“I like to throw guys in and let’s figure this out now,” Mitch Gibson said. “Welcome to varsity baseball. It’s better to get the kid acclimated as soon as possible, especially if he is going to be a day-to-day guy for the next three or four years.”

Gibson said the trio all swing the bat well and have a very good baseball IQ.

The Cougars start their season Friday in a tournament at Beech Grove High School. They open with a 4 p.m. contest against Perry Meridian.

2024 Greenfield-Central Baseball Schedule


March 29;vs. Perry Meridian (at Beech Grove);4 p.m.

March 30;vs. TBD (at Beech Grove);10 a.m.

March 30;vs. TBD (at Beech Grove);1 p.m.

April 2;vs. New Castle;6 p.m.

April 3;at New Castle;5:30 p.m.

April 6;at Lapel;10 a.m.

April 9;vs. Delta;6 p.m.

April 10;at Delta;6 p.m.

April 13;at Fishers;11 a.m.

April 16;vs. Yorktown;6 p.m.

April 17;at Yorktown;6 p.m.

April 19;at Southport;6 p.m.

April 23;at New Palestine;6 p.m.

April 24;vs. New Palestine;6 p.m.

April 29;vs. North Central;6 p.m.

April 30;at Pendleton Heights;6 p.m.

May 1;vs. Pendleton Heights;6 p.m.

May 2;vs. Mooresville;6 p.m.

May 4;vs. McCutcheon;3 p.m.

May 7;at Mt. Vernon;6 p.m.

May 8;vs. Mt. Vernon;6 p.m.

May 11;vs. Guerin Catholic (DH);3 p.m.

May 14;vs. Shelbyville;6 p.m.

May 15;at Shelbyville;6 p.m.

May 16;vs. Warren Central;5:30 p.m.