Nadratowski looks to build off of 2012 success
For most incoming student athletes, there can be a long adjustment period before freshmen can see themselves make an impact on their programs.
Sophomore Mike Nadratowski is an exception.
Last year, in his first season, Nadratowski was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman of the Year and the GLIAC Freshman of the Year after he led the Grand Valley State University baseball team in batting average (.414), runs (51), hits (79) and stolen bases (21), and helped GVSU post a 43-16 record.
“He’s one of the most competitive people you will ever meet,” said head coach Jamie Detillion. “He’s a student of the game. You can see him during games and in practice situations, thinking situations out and trying to figure out the college game and just putting himself in position to succeed by doing so.”
Nadratowski’s speed and versatility have made him an ideal leadoff man for GVSU. The center fielder reached base on nearly half of his at-bats, posting a .496 on-base percentage.
“He brings a lot to the table, especially for our team in terms of being a great leadoff hitter,” Detillion said. “He sets the table for a lot of the guys in the middle lineup to produce runs. He’s a pretty big catalyst to get our team going in big situations.”
Nadratowski’s success didn’t happen overnight. For him, his success was a result of the training and offseason work that he put in over the winter.
“I just think it was getting comfortable with my surroundings and trying to gain confidence in the winter with hitting and everything,” Nadratowski said. “Once we got outside and I got the opportunity to start, just took advantage of it and not looked back.”
Other people within the program have taken notice of Nadratowski’s work ethic, including his head coach.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” Detillion said. “He comes to practice every day looking to get better. You can’t always say that about everybody, but I can definitely say that about him. He comes to practice every single day looking to get better and to put himself in position to become a better player.”
Just like any other athlete, Nadratowski had to acquaint himself to the collegiate level. Unlike most athletes, it didn’t take long for him to excel and find his way in the lineup.
“In the beginning I struggled,” Nadratowski said. “I always expect a lot of myself, so it was real frustrating in the beginning when I struggled. As soon as I got comfortable, I got a lot better at the plate and I started playing with a lot more confidence and that helped me strive to where I was last year.”
Nadratowski found himself making changes to his own game. During his first campaign, those subtle changes helped him grow as an all-around player.
“It’s way more of a mental game,” he said. “You gotta know the situations with hitting and being smarter on the base paths. In high school, with my speed I could kind of get away with anything I wanted to. With situational hitting, knowing when to get guys over and getting sac bunts down. Just the little things like that was probably the biggest learning curve for me.”
For Nadratowski, being complacent with his past success is not an option. He continues to grow and add new elements to his game in preparation for the Lakers new season.
GVSU opens their season March 5 during their spring break trip in Florida with a matchup against Notre Dame College.
“I’m sure he’ll have another huge year,” said sophomore Kevin Zak. “He’s been working hard and working on a couple different things. I think his game is only gonna get better and he’s gonna get better as a player.”