For The Tribune
Nick Mensendiek says his favorite place to be during the spring is at the Trinity Lutheran baseball field preparing for the next game.
“I came to Trinity for baseball, really,” he said. “I also thought it was a really good academic school.
“It was between (Columbus) East and Trinity and I used to play with the (Columbus) Blazers and I just wanted to have a new feel of things, play with a new team down here because I thought I could have a lot of success with this team.”
The left-hander is the Cougars’ starting first baseman and has also played right field and done some pitching.
“First base is my favorite position by far,” Mensendiek said. “I really enjoy going out there and having fun. If we’re out there having fun playing as a team, we’re an unbeatable team.”
The senior takes pride in his defense.
“I like having balls hit to me,” he said. “ It lets me show my skill. When I get a ball in the dirt that’s my favorite thing because I just love trying to scoop the ball out of the dirt. You’ve really got to be alert over there.”
On the mound, Mensendiek typically acts a relief.
“It is very important to get ahead in the count,” Mensendiek said of pitching. “You always want to throw strikes and get ahead in the count. It gives you confidence to be able to keep going through the rest of that at-bat, and once you get that first out you’ve got more confidence building up, and then you just keep throwing strikes. You can’t feel any better.”
Mensendiek said he throws three main pitches: fastball, change up and knuckle-curve.
“I think my knuckle-curve is probably my slowest pitch because I’m still trying to get the feel for it, trying to get a good grip on it,” he said. “What I do is I put my index finger on the seam of the ball, and I keep my middle finger on top of the seam and then I just bring it over and then I snap my wrist.”
In the order, Mensendiek bats second.
“I started the year out hitting 7th but I really turned it on after the first couple games, I’ve been hitting really well,” Mensendiek said. “I never bunt. I’m just used to getting hits and moving the runner over.”
At the plate, Mensendiek stays agressive.
“First pitch fastball — I’m crushing it,” Mensendiek said. “I like pitches a little bit below the waist. I’m a low ball hitter. I swing as hard as I can so I just bust the pitch. I’m a fastball-first hitter. The first fastball I see I’m driving it.
“If they throw me a curve ball, and it’s a good strike, I’ll take it and I’ll tip my hat to them because they had the confidence to throw a first-pitch curveball and there’s nothing you can do about that.”
On the calendar, Mensendiek looks forward to the home games at Alf Snyder field.
“It’s a lot more fun, our home games are awesome,” Mensendiek said. “We have a good fan base coming out most of the time. I feel like we have a home field advantage. I’ve always liked hitting at this place.
For the Cougars to keep winning, Mensendiek thinks the team needs to focus on a few things.
“(We are) going to keep our confidence — it’s going to take great teamwork, good defense, good offense, and most importantly our attitude,” Mensendiek said. ‘Our attitude has to stay focused and positive. On a meter we can’t be in the middle, we’ve got to be more to the focused side.”
Mensendiek said he enjoys attending Trinity Lutheran High School.
“I like the one-on-one student-to-teacher ratio where they know your name and you get to be interactive in the class, and this baseball team we just have enough for a good, key group,” he said. “We’re not overpowered where you have to have too many players. We have a tough, strong 11. We’re solid and we bond well together, and we just have a lot of fun.
“Going to a Lutheran School is probably the best thing I could ever wish for. I’ve enjoyed keeping close to my faith. I’d have to say the thing I’m going to remember most is last year beating Seymour. That was probably one of the best baseball memories I’ll ever have.”
Name: Nick Mensendiek
School: Trinity Lutheran High School
Parents: Max and Danette Mensendiek
Sports: baseball 4 years
Athletic highlights: 2016 sectional champions, 2014 Cougar Award, 2015-16 most improved award
Organizations: National Honor Society, student ambassador, drama club, choir, 4H, youth church group
Plans after high school: attend Indiana University Southeast major in secondary education
Favorite food: tacos
Favorite TV show: The Walking Dead
Favorite musician: Motley Crue
Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite team: Cincinnati Reds