‘We had no baseballs’ — revamped Miami Middletown enjoys first winning season in 25 years with nation’s youngest team

There were moments of youthfulness surrounding the Miami University Middletown baseball team as the 2023 fall season got underway.

It wasn’t a surprise to Mark Adams because, well, the ThunderHawks really were young. In fact, they were the youngest college baseball team in the nation.

And technically, they still are now.

Miami Middletown continues to take pride in its roster consisting of 21 freshmen and one sophomore as it enters the final week of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association regular season.

The ThunderHawks posted a 12-5 record in the fall and is finishing up the remainder of their spring schedule a combined 16-14 — with a doubleheader left against Wright State Lake on Sunday.

Miami Middletown will officially secure its first season at .500 or better in 25 years.

But the story coming out of the Miami University regional campus runs a little deeper than that.

You see, there hadn’t been baseball at MUM since 2019 — when the program shut down. That is until this school year.

“Let me tell you about our first practice when school started up,” Adams said referring to when the program reconvened Aug. 15.“They all go out there, and they’re trying so damn hard.

“They’re trying to win the World Series in their first practice of their college baseball career.”

Everything was new — literally — so why wouldn’t they? Players, uniforms, baseballs, equipment.


“We didn’t have a field to play on,” Adams said.

Even the ThunderHawks’ skipper was new to the whole college baseball coaching thing. Adams was a 17-year college basketball coach and a 25-year college basketball analyst for ESPN.

He was anything but a college baseball coach.

Frankly, Adams wasn’t even supposed to be the Miami Middletown head baseball coach at all. He was the pitching coach, until the previous head coach abruptly announced he was stepping down before the first fall game.

“They asked me if I wanted to be the head coach,” laughed Adams, who noted that he recruited most of MUM’s players. “I told the kids, ‘I’d lose you games.’ They came back with, ‘That’s OK, Coach. We will lose you games, too. We will just have fun together.’”

It was history in the making from that point on.


Jake Lange is an Edgewood High School graduate who didn’t necessarily plan on playing college baseball. He had wrestling in mind.

“Baseball was kind of a last-second option,” the redshirt freshman said. “I thought I was going to make the wrong decision.”

Lange recalled noticing the resurrection of Miami Middletown’s baseball team from afar. So, that piqued his interest having played prep ball for the Cougars.

“I saw all the guys coming in,” Lange said. “I thought, ‘Man, this is happening.’”

He nudged former Edgewood teammate Kaden Davidson, the lone sophomore who eventually transferred from Wright State Lake.

“When I got a text from him saying I want you to come here,” Davidson recalled, “I said, “Let’s go. Let’s do this.’”

It didn’t really hit Davidson until about the third game of this past fall season how youthful-minded the ThunderHawks really were.

“I was literally the only one on this team who had ever played a college baseball game until now,” Davidson said.

“The first couple of games were weird. We were all just out there and really didn’t know each other. I knew Jake, and that was about it.”

But every player grew on each other as Miami Middletown reeled off four straight wins to start things off in the fall.

“From then until now, you just see how much closer we’ve gotten,” Davidson said. “We’ve used that to our advantage. It puts pressure on the opposite team. We have teams saying, ‘Hey, these guys have nothing to lose. They’re the youngest team in the nation.’”

“Yeah, you could tell we were sort of playing with house money, if you will,” Lange chimed in. “There was really no losing for us. But we just hoped to get better.”

They did, but not without a little adversity through a handful of key injuries.

“We’re going to grow off of this,” Lange said. “We’re going to build off this. This was nothing I’d ever imagined it to be. We’ve battled. We’ve made the most of what we have so far.

“The main thing is that everyone is now teammates. We’ve grown closer as a team. We genuinely love the game. There isn’t a more passionate team from our coaches to us players in this league — and in this nation. We play with heart.”


Adams gave a heart-to-heart talk to his players following a doubleheader sweep of Kent State Tuscarawas on Sunday at Foundation Field.

He invited parents to join in on his postgame speech that took place along the foul line in left field.

“The thing I love about this the most is my Tuesday meetings with your son,” Adams said to them. “Just know that I love your sons, and I believe in them, and I trust them. Sometimes it may not come across that way. But I want to thank you all for giving me the privilege of coaching your sons.

“This means a lot,” Adams added. “It’s a simple mission in life to know that I experience joy by creating value for those I love and care about. I never thought I’d be a baseball coach. But I wanted to take a moment to recognize where we were and where we are today.

“One year ago. We had no baseballs. Literally,” Adams continued with a passionate tone. “We didn’t have a pitching machine. We didn’t have a field. We didn’t have uniforms. Nothing, one year ago. We built this thing from the smallest ant hole in the history of baseball. And here we are.

“I want everybody here, because sometimes you just have got to freaking celebrate a little bit. Let me give you some numbers. There are five teams in the region that started a baseball program in the last two years. Their collective record is 35-110. That’s their collective record for those five programs. You got that? Remember that number. The most any of those teams won in their seasons was 15, and they went 15-32. We just won our 16th game of the season. How about that?

“Here’s the best part. We’re on a baseball field today, so I have to talk a little baseball. But this is also a team with a 3.0 GPA for the fall semester. Our No. 1 goal is 100% graduation, and that’s nonnegotiable. We meet 1-on-1 every Tuesday with every one of your young men because we trust them. We believe in them. They know 100% graduation is the right goal. All of our guys have been matriculating toward that goal right now. Now we’ve got to finish up what we’ve started the last two weeks.

“But if you look at where we’ve came from with no team, no baseballs, no schedule, no coach. … We made a deal. Just a crazy old basketball coach with a bunch of crazy young freshmen. Here we are with our 16th win. Gentlemen, trust the process. Trust each other. These are the types of things that will happen when you do that.”

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