The start and end of Nathan Pollock’s sophomore baseball season at Madison (Wis.) College were both memorable, but for different reasons.
Pollock can still remember the team’s March trip to Florida.
“I think I struck out 10 times in seven games,” said Pollock, a Crystal Lake Central graduate who will continue his career at NCAA Division I Western Illinois. “I wanted to hit 1.000. Once I realized I wouldn’t be able to do that, it made it a lot easier.”
Pollock and the Wolfpack both hit their stride, especially in May when the team made a strong run through the NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Okla., finishing third in the nation.
Madison (43-13) went 10-3 in the postseason and was sparked by a 2-0, first-round loss to North Iowa Area Community College in Oklahoma.
“We realized we had to get our bats going,” said Pollock, who is playing this summer with the Crystal Lake Cardinals. “We bounced back well. Our confidence went through the roof.”
Pollock batted .333 at nationals with four RBIs and three runs scored. He helped Madison outscore teams 33-4 in four consecutive wins through the consolation bracket, including an 8-2 victory against top-ranked LSU-Eunice, the eventual national champion.
“We played our behinds off,” Pollock said.
Batting fifth most of the season as the starting right fielder, Pollock earned second-team All-N4C conference honors while hitting .355 with a team-best 22 stolen bases in 23 attempts. Pollock also led the team with 13 doubles while compiling 32 RBIs, scoring 39 runs and posting a .446 on-base percentage.
He helped the Wolfpack reach 40 or more wins for the fourth consecutive season and win its third N4C title in a row.
But when Pollock describes his biggest improvement as a player, it is in an underappreciated part of the game.
“I would say bunting,” Pollock said. “My first year here, I thought I knew how to bunt.”
Thanks to Madison’s coaching staff, Pollock sharpened his skills and led the team with 22 sacrifice bunts this season.
Pollock is passing on the skill when he teaches camps for 13- and 14-year-old players.
“We worked on it a lot at Madison,” he said.
Hand it to this Hawkeye: Johnsburg grad C.J. Fiedorowicz has started 17 consecutive games for Iowa’s football team and made 45 catches last season.
Before the 2013 season has even started, he is drawing plenty of attention. Fiedorowicz was named the nation’s No. 5 tight end last month by ESPN college football analyst Danny Kanell on the cable network’s College Football Live show.
Fiedorowicz, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound senior, was called the best blocker of the group by Kanell, who chose Washington’s Austin Sefarian-Jenkins as the top tight end.
Fiedorowicz averaged 9.6 yards a catch last season and caught one touchdown.
Last month, Fiedorowicz also was named to the 2013 College Football Performance Awards’ Tight End Trophy Watch List.
CFPA uses scientific rankings to determine a player’s overall impact on his team and honors top players each season. The CFPA winners will be announced Jan. 8, 2014.
The Hawkeyes, who were 4-8 last season, open the 2013 campaign Aug. 31 against Northern Illinois.
Academic all-star: Woodstock grad Thomas Wilson, a senior shortstop at Missouri Southern State, was one of 33 athletes chosen for the 2013 NCAA Division II Capital One Academic All-America Baseball Team.
Wilson, a psychology major, compiled a 4.0 grade-point average. He previously played at Elgin Community College.
In two seasons at Missouri Southern, Wilson started all 104 games for the Lions. While helping the team to a 34-22 record this spring, Wilson batted .304 with 25 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Wilson’s contributions helped MSSU win the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament for the first time since 1992. The team also advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2001.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com, check out his On Campus blog at McHenryCountySports.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryOnCampus.