Feb. 12, 2010

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Vitek: Ball State's Triple Threat

By Michael Perry



When it comes down to it, winning baseball games takes three things: pitching, hitting and fielding. Fortunately for Ball State, junior Kolbrin Vitek has a handle on all three.


Vitek a right-handed hurler, infielder and solid three-spot hitter, has received his share of accolades, including the Louisville Slugger preseason second team All-America and being named top prospect in the Great Lakes Summer League by Baseball America.


Like most grounded athletes, Vitek says he pays no attention to those sorts of praises and made it clear that he’s a team player.


“I usually don't even know about a preseason award until someone calls to tell me,” said Vitek, who won the Great Lakes Summer League’s triple crown. “I will just set those aside and go out and have fun playing the game with no added pressure from things like that.”


Although Vitek is rightfully concerned with team goals, helping BSU in all three facets of the game has certainly made him a precious commodity to the program.


Last season Vitek split his time between third base and designated hitter, while also making 11 weekend starts on the mound. From the rubber, he recorded a team-leading 56 strikeouts with only nine walks and an overall record of 4-3 in his 57.1 innings.


At the plate, he led the Cardinals in home runs (13), doubles (25) and RBI (67) and was second with a .389 average. He was a first-team MAC selection at the utility position.


Clearly Vitek is not your typical hitting-pitcher.


As such a well-rounded athlete, Vitek expressed that he has always found his comfort zone swinging the bat.


I’m most comfortable at the plate,” Vitek said. “Hitting has always been my favorite part about playing ball, so that is where I have become most comfortable.”


BSU coach Greg Beals realizes what a rare talent he has in Vitek.


“He Vitek pitches with a fastball into the low 90s and an uncanny ability to command four pitches from two different arm angles,” Beals said. “Combine that with a 6-3 body, a sub 6.6 second 60-yard dash and the ability to hit for average and power, you end up with a top prospect.”


With remarks like that coming from the top, it would be easy for Vitek to become overconfident, but his love of the game and commitment to the program resounds throughout his character.


“My goals for this season are to have a better season than my last two, and win a MAC championship,” Vitek said of the 2010 season. “Advance to the Regional for that experience, and have some good luck with the professional draft come June.”


Vitek, a cerebral athlete also understands the importance of mental competition in baseball.


My favorite part about the game of baseball is the knowledge and experience you have to gain about the game to realize that you have become the type of player you have always wanted to be,” Vitek said. “You have to have a very good understanding about this game and have the experience to know the kind of work that needs to be done in order to be a standout player.”


Vitek, from Bryan, Ohio, has high hopes of playing at the professional level and realizes the importance of continually working on his game.


I have high aspirations for turning into a professional,” Vitek said. “Hitting will always carry any player more than any other attribute, so I will look to that to give me the edge of advancing.”


Looking back at his career, Vitek named his father as his source of strength and his first coach.


“My father has always been my greatest supporter and influence,” Vitek said. “He has been the best coach for me my entire life and has never missed a game that he could be at.”


Whether Vitek is closing out a weekend series on the mound, turning the double play at second or setting up the clean-up hitter, he is sure to be a sight to see and a great asset to BSU.


Vitek and the Cardinals open their season in Fayetteville, Ark., against the Razorbacks on Feb. 19


(photos courtesy of Ball State Media Relations Office)