Arguably, the best defensive player on the field is the shortstop.
In order to play the shortstop position effectively, one must display a wide array of athleticism that will enable one to cover a vast amount of ground — one must also have a strong arm and good hands for fielding.
The man named to the job of starting the beautiful 6-4-3 double plays for the Shippensburg University baseball team is freshman Mike Marcinko.
Playing baseball since T-ball at six years old, Marcinko developed his skills at shortstop posting impressive results at Philipsburg-Osceola High School near State College, Pa. Marcinko explained that the most influential person to him has always been his father.
“He showed me baseball and taught me to have a good work ethic, not only in work and school, but in life as well,” Marcinko said.
While playing for the PO Mountaineers, Marcinko set four career records including hits, stolen bases, runs, and fewest times struck out. He also earned the honors of being named a conference all-star all four years and was named the Progressland Player of the Year.
From posting the numbers and earning the accolades he did, Marcinko gained interest of several college programs — even from a few Division I universities.
With the college offers on the table, his hard work and dedication had paid off. He was now able to compete at the next level. However, he was left with the decision of where he would continue to improve his game.
After weighing his options, Marcinko decided that the opportunity to start at shortstop as a freshman was too good to pass up. Therefore, the young shortstop landed on the conclusion that SU was the destination of his next step in life.
“The opportunity to play in the PSAC is a good experience,” Marcinko said.
Marcinko’s decision to come play for the Raiders, due to the chance to start as a freshman, has paid off. Marcinko has started all 34 games at shortstop for the Raiders this season. Through the first 34 games of his collegiate career, Marcinko has posted the team’s fourth-highest batting average (.330), has a .421 on-base percentage and has knocked in 12 RBIs in 103 at bats. He has also swiped 11 bases which ranks No. 2 for SU.
Thinking about his favorite Raider experience, Marcinko quickly landed upon a single game — “Our game against Shepherd, going 4-for-4 and playing a solid game in the field.”
Although Marcinko has earned the role as the starting shortstop, like any athlete, he is still motivated to improve.
According to Marcinko, his motivation is to make a name for himself during his time at SU and to possibly get drafted. However, Marcinko is also devoted to improving his own skills so he can benefit the team even more in the future.
“Staying consistent. I want to be a force on the team day-in and day-out trying to contribute no matter what day I’m having, Marcinko said. “If I’m having a bad day at the plate, I need to step it up in the field.” “I want to be the leader on the team who brings it every single day.”
In terms of the future for Marcinko and the Raiders, Marcinko is hoping for big things. “[Our goal is to be] No. 1 in the PSAC on our way to Regionals, [and try] to get to the College World Series.”
Even though a large portion of Marcinko’s time is devoted to baseball, he also said he is busy managing school alongside baseball. As a biology major, Marcinko said he is aiming for a career in the medical field — a physician’s assistant or a physical therapist are at the top of his list.
Although Marcinko is working toward a career in the medical field, his dream is still to play professional baseball. Someday he may have the opportunity to play for his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Every road has its obstacles or challenges, but Marcinko continues to have the mindset to “keep pushing through.”
“Some days aren’t going to go your way, but you have to have the same mindset every day, and try to get the most out of each day,” Marcinko said.