Opposing MIAC baseball teams have long been aware of St. Thomas’ senior Ben Podobinski’s skills in the outfield, but Podobinski was named to the D3Baseball.com Team of the Week for all games played between March 3 and March 9, because of his skills at the plate.
The Tommie center fielder earned a spot on the thirteen-player team thanks to his impressive play in a four-game weekend series in Tucson, Ariz. against Simpson College (Iowa) and Concordia University (Ill.).
Podobinski had a .588 average with nine runs, six RBIs and 10 hits in the four games, as the No. 13-ranked Tommies went 3-1.
Left fielder Tim Kuzniar recognized how important Podobinski is to the team as its leadoff hitter, and how dynamic of a player he is.
“Top of the order means a lot. He’s a good hitter, he battles in tough counts. He’s a fast runner so he can kind of get on and create some havoc for you when you do get on. He kind of just sets the tone for the game,” Kuzniar said.
In 93 career games with St. Thomas, Podobinski has 134 hits and 48 steals, highlighting just how well-suited his game is to be the table-setter for the Tommie offense.
“I try to stay flat, hit the ball on a line or on the ground, use my speed to put pressure on the defense and get on base. Then (I) get on base and steal bags and score runs for the team,” Podobinski said.
Though Podobinski makes his approach to the game sound simple, Kuzniar said Podobinski is one of the most important players on the team.
“When he goes, the team goes, and that’s kind of the role he takes. Luckily for us, he’s been on for three years while he’s been here,” Kuzniar said.
Despite the national recognition he received for his strong showing in Arizona, Podobinski still focuses on the success of the team first.
“I mean, it’s a great individual honor, I had a good week, but we went into Arizona as a team hoping to go 4-0, and we only went 3-1,” Podobinski said. “(It) just shows that even though I had a good week, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and we can still improve as a team.”
Always thinking about the team is one reason why coach Chris Olean sees Podobinski as a leader on the team.
“(Podobinski) is more of a quiet type leader, where I think he just kind of plays hard all the time. He works hard in practice, and I really think that’s more his leadership style. Not the most vocal guy, but at the same point, you can just tell by his effort,” Olean said.
Tom Pitzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.