Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion
Mike Schultz, catcher, won one of six spring sports awards.
MVP - Angie Jackson, softball
The Royals’ bats exploded this spring, as the team finished the regular season at the top of the conference in nearly every offensive category. Sophomore Angie Jackson anchored the lineup and was a model of consistency since day one. Hitting for average and for power, she led the MIAC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs and doubles during the regular season. In a lineup full of fearsome hitters, Jackson has produced with tremendous efficiency. “Angie has taken great strides in every aspect of the game,” head coach Rod Radcliffe said. “She is a team player, a leader on the field and a hard worker.” Jackson batted nearly 200 points better than she did during her freshman season, and Radcliffe credits Jackson's success to her dedicated offseason workout.
Most Team Spirit - David Freed, baseball
Head coach Brian Raabe preaches energy and intensity at all times on the diamond. “People tend to think that baseball is a quiet game, but we need leadership, and we need guys to stay in tune with what’s going on,” Raabe said. “One of our captains, David Freed, is our leader in that department.” A self-proclaimed encourager, Freed always has a smile on his face when he's in the dugout or patrolling the right side of the infield at first base. Freed’s leadership has translated into success on the field, as he leads the team with a .370 batting average, and his on-base and slugging percentages are near .500. “David is our most vocal leader on the field and in the dugout,” Raabe said. “He always puts the team first and knows what it takes to get everyone fired up.”
Mr. Reliable - Zach Haskins, track and field
In terms of consistency, few athletes can compare to distance runner Zach Haskins. Haskins’ performance in the mile run earned him an All-American award last season. This season, he has picked up where he left off and added a MIAC Men's Indoor Track Athlete-of-the-Year award to go along with his second selection to the All-America team. Nationally, he placed sixth in the indoor mile run, breaking the school record with a time of 4:12:07. According to head coach Andrew Rock, Haskins’ success is a direct result of his hard work and commitment to the sport, which has improve the team as a whole. “Zach is special because of who he is and the positive attitude he always seems to have,” Rock said. “People will always gravitate to someone like him because he works hard and is very successful, all while being one of the most humble guys you will ever meet. His leadership is so valuable; I can’t even put into words what he means to us.”
Blue Collar Award - Mike Schultz, baseball
Few positions in baseball are less glamorous than catcher. Sprawling in the dirt and diving left and right to block wild pitches, the catcher never takes a play off. In order to play the position, an athlete has to be disciplined, knowledgeable and willing to take a bruise or two to get the job done. Nobody on Bethel’s baseball team fits that bill better than Mike Schultz. The Forest Lake native is not flashy in any aspect of his game, but he continually provides numbers that add up to wins for the Royals. Schultz earned a MIAC Player-of-the-Week award in the first week of April and has remained a consistent producer for the Royals ever since. He has the fourth-best batting average on the team, sitting at .307. Schultz also ranks second in slugging percentage at .544. Although Schultz spends most innings behind the plate, he also takes reps at first base and in the outfield. According to Brian Raabe, Schultz has been the “catalyst” for a lineup that has been performing at a high level all season. “He doesn’t overcomplicate things,” Raabe said. “He just goes out there and performs, doing whatever we need him to do in order to win.”
Inhuman Award - Rachel Kalk, track and field
Bethel sprinter Rachel Kalk is a firm believer in the adage “records are made to be broken.” The junior shattered the previous school record she had set in the 60-meter hurdles when she ran a time of 8.06 seconds at the St. Thomas meet on April 14. She also holds the school record in the 100-meter hurdles, and she looks to continue to improve her numbers in each of those events. Kalk has also excelled in a number of sprint and jumping events. However, she doesn’t put any undue stress on herself with lofty expectations. She just loves the competition. “I compete to the best of my abilities, and I have fun doing it,” Kalk said. “As a hurdler, I know that literally anything can happen after the gun goes off.” If she keeps up her work ethic and record-setting ways, Kalk could be in for an illustrious senior season. “Lifting and workouts are important, but I could not be successful if not for the support and encouragement from my parents, coaches, teammates and friends,” she said. “I believe the key to success is having a positive attitude.”
Best Hair - Alex Hunter, baseball
Formerly a member of the buzzcut bandwagon, freshman outfielder Alex Hunter began growing out his hair in March 2012. Hunter’s ebony locks begin at his unsuspecting hairline and cascade down his jawline in a series of smooth waves before settling in a perky swoop just above his shoulders. Hunter’s enviable hair is a product of patience and Head and Shoulders 2-in-1 shampoo, and he is always willing to give tips to gawkers who aspire to attain a head of lettuce like his. “It depends on the person, but for the most part, I’ve received more love than hate,” Hunter said. “My mom tells me to get it cut every time she sees me, but my guy friends are in full support of the flow.” The inspiration behind Hunter’s “flow” comes from Loki, the antagonist in the 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers.” From the moment he laid eyes on the character, Hunter knew he had to mimic the mop. “Look good, play good,” is Hunter’s philosophy, and he has no plans of mowing the mane until the season is over.