FEATURE STORY: Franklin College Baseball – Powered by the Region
Several Players from the Region are Helping the Grizzlies growl their way to a National Ranking
Located less than 25 miles south of Indianapolis, Franklin College is well beyond the borders of the “Region,” no matter how loose you are with the geographic boundaries of the term. That however, hasn’t stopped Northwest Indiana from being a major part of the school and in particular, the Grizzlies’ baseball team. With a 35-3 mark heading into the post-season, Franklin is ranked 14th in the nation when it comes to Division III collegiate baseball, and it’s no surprise that at the core of the team’s success there’s Region baseball alumni.
In total, there are six Northwest Indiana players on the Franklin roster: Frank Podkul (Andrean), Alex Mis (Munster), Christian Sullivan (Lake Central), Chandler Cardenas and Eryk Jones (Bishop Noll), as well as Logan Demkovich (Munster). Grizzlies Head Coach Lance Marshall views this as a special group of players but not just on the baseball field.
“I couldn’t be happier with the group from the Region,” Marshall said. “They are respected all around campus and in the community for their work.”
While all six of the Region natives have made their impact on the program and in the community, three of them are having absolute stellar seasons in 2018.
Senior infielder Frank Podkul has etched his name into the Franklin College baseball record books with his power at the plate. Described by his coach as possessing “light tower power,” Podkul set the school records for most home runs in a season (14), most home runs in a career (27) and helped the team set a school record for most combined home runs with 56 – all of those records were clinched with one swing of the bat in a game against Defiance.
Marshall gushed not only about Podkul’s ability in the batter’s box, but the kind of person he is as well.
“Frank is the definition of a student athlete in how hard he works both on the field and in the classroom,” Marshall said. “It’s awesome to see a young man of his caliber having this type of season.”
Another senior leading the way for Franklin is starting pitcher Christian Sullivan. With a 2.87 ERA to go along with a 6-0 record, there’s no doubt he is the ace of an impressive Franklin pitching staff.
“He’s been absolutely dominant,” Marshall said of the Lake Central grad. “He’s very durable and can go deep in games for us – he’s thrown some big innings.”
Sullivan leads the team, by a wide margin, with 69 innings pitched this year, which Marshall credits to his commitment to conditioning.
“He’s a tireless worker in the weight room and he’s always conditioning,” Marshall stated.
While all great teams rely on the upperclassmen to carry a big portion of the load, sophomore catcher Alex Mis is turning heads both with his work behind the plate and with the bat in his hands. On the season, Mis is hitting an impressive .391, but what’s even more impressive is his on base percentage which stands at a whopping .568 – the best mark on the team.
“He has a terrific approach at the plate,” Marshall said of Mis. “His at bats are very advanced for a player of his class. He’s been incredible with his approach.”
Mis’ defense has improved as well during his second season at Franklin, with a .986 fielding percentage in 28 games at catcher.
“He’s developed really well defensively, “Marshall said.
Demkovich, Cardenas and Jones haven’t seen as much action as the other three, but Coach Marshall has been impressed with them all, especially with Demkovich’s work defensively and Cardenas’ perseverance through injuries.
The Grizzlies began post-season play on Thursday May 10 as they host the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament, which will run through Sunday May 13. Should Franklin win they will receive and automatic bid into the Division III Baseball Championship tournament.