PLAYER OF THE YEAR: In the weight roomFrom his earliest days, Grant Rindal was destined to be a pitcher. “As a little kid, I just liked to throw things,” said Rindal, a junior at Superior High School.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
From his earliest days, Grant Rindal was destined to be a pitcher.
“As a little kid, I just liked to throw things,” said Rindal, a junior at Superior High School.
It didn’t matter what it was, Rindal said; he’d toss anything he could get his hands on, until his father stepped in to give him some direction.
“My dad got me a glove and I started to play catch,” Rindal said. “Then my dad got me a bat and I started to hit.”
Rindal began playing organized baseball when he was eight years old. He spent some time at catcher and in the infield, but at his core, Rindal was a pitcher.
The junior led the Spartan pitching staff this year and set a new single season record in strikeouts. He now has 145 career strikeouts and is likely to top 200 in his senior season.
“Grant is probably the hardest worker in our program and it is paying great dividends,” said Don Dembroski, head coach of the Spartan baseball team. “Not only did he have a tremendous year, but his name is all over our records sheet and I am positive he will add to it next year as well.”
Rindal’s name popped up in every major pitching category in the Spartan record book this season.
For single-season records dating back to 2000, he is tied for first in pitching wins (6), is first in innings pitched (51) and strikeouts (76) — he also holds the No. 2 spot with his 53 strikeouts last year — is second in opponents’ batting average (.152), second in strikeout-walk ratio (5.8) and tied for fifth in ERA (1.24).
“I was just hoping to improve off my sophomore season and get better,” Rindal said. “I in no way expected to do as well as I did. And the team played great defense, which was a lot of it.”
Offensively, Rindal finished the 2012 season with 18 hits and 11 runs scored. He had a .269 batting percentage and a .388 on-base percentage.
Rindal was named the Spartans’ Pitching MVP for 2012 and also made the Lake Superior Conference All-Conference second team. He served as a team captain this season and was voted by his teammates to return in that capacity next year.
“He works out and throws more than anyone in our program, and I am excited to see how good he can be next year,” Dembroski said.
Rindal started off this year with an exciting performance in Superior’s April 5 doubleheader against Eau Claire North, the 2011 state champions.
The junior pitched the seventh inning of the opener and retired the Huskies in order to earn the save in Superior’s 1-0 victory. Then he pitched six innings of scoreless, no hit ball in the second game to lead the Spartans to a 6-0 win and the sweep.
“That was a highlight,” Rindal said. “It was a good year as a team. We attained some goals we didn’t expect, but we can do better next year.”
For his part, Rindal is certain to put in the time needed to improve. He’s often in the weight room, and nine months out of the year he works on his pitching.
During the baseball season, he tries to throw at least 20 to 30 minutes every day in practice. During the winter months he throws in his basement or heads over to the University of Wisconsin Superior; and as soon as the snow melts, he’s back outside playing catch.
“I love to throw, and that’s important. You’ve got to throw a lot,” Rindal said.
Rindal has a reliable fastball, but he’ll be working during the offseason to add to his pitches. For his senior year, he plans to be throwing even harder with better location and a breaking ball mixed in.
As a team, Rindal said the goal for 2013 is a deep run in the playoffs.