When Aydan Decker-Petty looks back on attending IU baseball games at Bart Kaufman Field a few years ago, one specific thought pops into his mind.
“I just remember them winning,” Decker-Petty said.
Decker-Petty, a right-handed pitcher and rising junior at New Castle High School, verbally committed to the IU baseball team Monday night on Twitter. Decker-Petty, who stands 6-feet 5-inches and weighs 170 pounds, is the No. 4 player in the state of Indiana and No. 270 nationally in the class of 2022, according to Prep Baseball Report.
Decker-Petty’s choice to attend IU runs deeper than just a winning culture.
Decker-Petty’s grandfather, who was his T-ball coach, loves the Hoosiers. Decker-Petty's brother, who has coached him since he was 7- or 8-years-old, is an IU graduate. As a kid, Decker-Petty and his family would make the trip to Bloomington to watch games in the electric atmosphere of Assembly Hall.
Naturally, as he grew up, cream and crimson became prevalent in his life. As Decker-Petty turned into a budding prospect on the diamond, his Hoosier origins paid off for the IU baseball program.
“It’s the place for me,” Decker-Petty said.
As a freshman in high school, Decker-Petty was already 6 feet 3 inches tall and his fastball was registering at 80-81 miles per hour.
Then he started working out at the Passion Resilience Process sports facility in Noblesville, Indiana. He would frequent the gym almost every day, except on Fridays when he had a team practice.
The first hour training consisted of throwing weighted balls on the turf area to increase arm strength. The second half of the workout took place in the weight room where he would push through sets of squats, dead lifts and bench presses.
When Decker-Petty first started, the maximum weight he could dead lift was in the mid-200-pound range. Last weekend, he repped 315 pounds three times.
“I’m going to keep grinding in the weight room,” Decker-Petty said.
Decker-Petty continued to put himself in position to be recruited by IU. Last fall, his travel team played at Bart Kaufman Field. He also attended two of IU’s showcase camps, hoping for a chance to become a Hoosier. Meanwhile, he grew another two inches.
Decker-Petty’s gains with the iron became apparent on the mound. At a Prep Baseball Report event in March, his fastball popped the catcher’s mitt at 89 miles per hour. A video shows him on the mound, coiling his arms toward his body while raising his left leg. Then, he sinks down in a balanced position and explodes with force toward the plate.
In the clip, he also showed his repertoire of secondary pitches: a slider and a change-up. The slider cut sharply toward the lefty-batter's box and reached 78 miles per hour. His changeup, which sat at 75-76 miles per hour, offered a solid difference in speed to his fastball.
Earlier this spring, Decker-Petty caught the IU staff’s attention. He started talking with IU pitching coach Justin Parker.
Parker would give Decker-Petty different aspects of his game to fine tune. Then, Decker-Petty would report back to Parker.
Before Decker-Petty made his decision public, he called his grandfather. Decker-Petty wanted to speak to the man who guided him in his T-ball days. Soon, Decker-Petty's next stop is the turf at Bart Kaufman field.
“He couldn’t believe it,” Decker-Petty said. “He was so excited.”
Decker-Petty marks the fifth prospect in the 2022 class to commit to play for IU head coach Jeff Mercer and the Hoosier program. So far, he’s the only pitcher in the group.
Considering Decker-Petty is only a rising junior in high school, his velocity and development of pitches should continue to grow in the next two years. There is plenty of room for him to fill out his lanky stature. If he is able to add weight, Decker-Petty’s velocity should climb into the 90s, and his potential will skyrocket.
Decker-Petty is planning to make a visit to St. Elmo’s Steak House in Indianapolis along with his brother. Decker-Petty will order a “big ‘ol steak” to celebrate his announcement, he says.
After years in the making, Decker-Petty will officially be a part of the Hoosier family.
“I just can’t wait to be on the field at the college level,” Decker-Petty said. “And hopefully get some rings while we’re at it.”