By having a father that played in the the NHL for eight seasons and being a multi-sport athlete in high school, Kyle Kleinendorst wasn’t always sold on playing baseball.
But for head coach Tod Brown, he’s sure glad Kleinendorst chose the spikes over the skates and the diamond over the pond. Kleinendorst has developed into a heart-of-the-program athlete during his tenure at NDSU. His hard work showed during his junior season when he improved his batting average by 112 points. We caught up with Kleinendorst at the batting cage to see how he is getting himself ready for his final season in the Bison pinstripes.
Position: Catcher/Outfielder/First Base/All-Around Badass
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Minn.
First team All-Summit League
Two-time All-Summit League Tournament
Led team with a .333 batting average last season
Eclipsed 100 career hits
Coach Tod Brown:
“His most valuable asset to the team is ability to play multiple positions and give us the best opportunity to put our best nine bats into the lineup.”
Why did you choose to play baseball and not football or hockey?
“It was more about the knowledge of my ability, I guess. I knew it probably wasn’t going to work out in the other sports and my skills lied in baseball and I just wanted to set my own footsteps in baseball.”
Did your dad have anything to do with the decision?
“No, he was supportive of whatever I chose and he knows how bad hockey beat him up and he knew baseball was the opposite. So he was fine with everything.”
Were you and John Skrbec a packaged deal coming from the same hometown?
“(laughs) No, he signed before I did. He didn’t have any influence on my decision, but it is pretty cool that we ended up in the same place.”
What’s it mean to have the bulk of the batting order back this year?
“I guess it’s just full. We have all played with each other before, we have power guys, we have small ball guys and it just brings us together. Every guy has the ability to do something great during any point of any game, that’s a nice thing to have when planning on competing for a conference championship.”
Does all the competition with the team get tough day after day?
“I would say yeah, but we’re all here to compete, so with that in mind you can’t let it get taxing on you. You got to know you’re doing your job and some of the pressure is on the older guys because we got some really good young guys with their foot in the door, ready to get the call.”
Sounds like Coach Tod Brown doesn’t believe in senior seniority.
“There’s no favoritism definitely. I know a lot of guys who have been here as a senior, but they didn’t get the call to start opening weekend. He is going to put the best nine guys on the field and everyone is accepting of that.”
You have a 16-month-old boy named Jaxon, what’s that responsibility like being a college athlete?
“Well, I’m getting a lot of help from my girlfriend, my girlfriend’s family and they’re willing to help at any point knowing that this is my last season and it means a lot to me. They care about me as much as I care about them. Juggling my time isn’t as hard as what people would do if they were on their own. “
Does he ever drop by at practice?
“He comes by after practice about once a week. I don’t know how many road trips he’ll make, but maybe we’ll see him in Florida.”