Ray of SchulzShine

The 2016 college baseball season has largely been one to forget for Minot State.

The Beavers are buried near the basement of the conference and for the fourth straight season failed to qualify to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference postseason tournament.

But it hasn’t all been grim this year for the Beavers.

There are some bright spots and moments they can hang their hat on.

Junior centerfielder Jordan Schulz is one of those bright spots and his importance to MSU doesn’t go unnoticed.

“He bats No. 3,” freshman left fielder Kyle Williamson said. “He’s batting close to .400. He’s a big stick in the lineup and he commands the outfield like a pro.”

Schulz hails from Strasbourg, Canada, but unlike most Canadians he’s not much of a hockey guy.

“I’ve actually never played hockey in my life,” he said. “I can skate and stuff, but I’ve always played baseball. My dad was a big hockey player, but I guess I just took to baseball. I’ve been training through the winters for baseball, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of time for hockey.”

Schulz got started with baseball at the age of three, playing and hanging around his older sister’s team. It wasn’t long before Schulz started playing for his hometown team and then gradually working his way up the latter, participating on larger teams in the towns of Lumsden and Regina.

In high school Schulz made the junior Canada team, but got cut during the last tryout in back-to-back years.

“It was still a super good experience and facing that good caliber of baseball and pitching has helped me so much,” Schulz said.

It helped him enough to garner attention from Division I colleges before eventually landing at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida – the college team of former Cy Young Award winner Cory Kluber.

But after one year playing for the Hatters, the distance from home and the fit with the club wasn’t ideal for Schulz, so he elected to transfer to Minot State.

“It’s so hard when you get D1 transfers,” MSU coach Brock Weppler said. “You know, why are they leaving their previous school? Is it the coaches fault? Is the kid lazy or is he a troublemaker? We had enough feedback to know that he was a pretty good kid. And he’s come in from Day 1 and worked his butt off. He comes to practice ready to work every day. He’s an outstanding student, quality kid and he’s a great guy in all aspects of life and when you have guys like that it’s fun to coach those guys.”

In his inaugural year with the Beavers, Schulz – who was recently named to the NSIC all-academic team – set the home run record (14) while batting clean-up and boasting a .295 batting average.

Schulz got bumped up to the No. 3 slot in the batting order this season and while his power numbers are a bit down from his sophomore campaign – seven dingers with four games remaining in the 2016 season – he’s batting a team-best .380 with 54 hits.

“When he’s right, and he’s confident in himself, he’s as good as there is in the conference,” Weppler said. “He’s a fun guy to watch. He has all the tools. He’s got a good arm. He’s our fastest guy on the team and he has a lot of pop in his bat. Every time he comes up to bat our kids our on the edge of their seat, expecting him to hit the ball out.”

And with another tireless offseason of work for Schulz one can only expect the edges of those seats next season to get worn down sooner rather than later.

John Denega covers Minot High athletics, Minot State softball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDenega_MDN.