By Chris Chaney
Batavia High School announced that senior three-sport athlete Kyle Schmitgen will continue his education and athletic career at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio next fall.
Schmitgen, a standout soccer, basketball and baseball player for the Bulldogs, will play only hardball for the Fighting Muskies next year, a decision that he said wasn’t all that difficult to make.
“Baseball’s my main (sport),” he said. “It will probably help me more with baseball and school being able to just concentrate on one sport. School-wise, playing one sport, I think I’ll be able to get into a good routine and not have to worry about balancing everything.”
Balancing everything was something Schmitgen has done throughout his four years at Batavia exceptionally well. An exemplary student in the classroom, he’s also excelled on the various playing surfaces he’s participated on.
Chronologically speaking, Schmitgen has been a three-time First Team All-Southern Buckeye Conference soccer player and a member of four conference championship squads.
In the winter, Schmitgen traded in his shin guards for sneakers and acted as the Bulldogs’ court general at point guard. Schmitgen earned First and Second Team All-Star honors during his upperclassmen years. However, it was his love of baseball that trumped all else.
Playing year-round for the Flash Organization, the only time Schmitgen wasn’t throwing around the hardball was when he was in green and white playing other sports for his high school.
“He’s one of the best kids I’ve coached as far as being a role model for his teammates and the school,” Batavia baseball head coach Geoff Carter said. “He’s the type of guy that makes (the coach) look good at all times. It’s easy to coach him. If you had nine of Kyle, your team would be something special.”
Considering Schmitgen’s versatility, he could play all nine positions and as he came up in a strong Batavia program, he’s tried more than a few. A pitcher and middle infielder by training, the senior has moved around the diamond as a willing teammate while older players took preference.
“He came up to varsity half way through his freshman year and was a starter from Day One,” Carter continued. “Last year, he was one of our aces, this year he’s our No. 1 guy. Last year, he played second because Austin (Lenhardt) was at short and they were a good duo. This year, he’s taken over at short and we haven’t missed a beat there.“
Offensively, Schmitgen doesn’t knock the cover off the ball, but he hits well for average and contact. Once he gets aboard, he’s practically in scoring position in the matter of a few pitches.
“I’ve never seen a base runner at the high school level do so many little things and grab every base,” Carter said. “He’ll steal third, time pitchers home — he’s the smartest player, easily, that I think I’ve been around. He gets a single and it’s like a triple. He’ll steal second and third before I’m done giving the signs. I’ll look over and he’ll be standing next to me (on third base).”
The IQ Schmitgen possesses is not only limited to the diamond. In fact, the scholastic aspect of Muskingum was a major selling point for Kyle and his parents, Bob and Mariela.
“The class sizes will help me to do my best,” Schmitgen said. “The school has an environment that I think will be good for me and the classes will make it easy for me to study.”
Schmitgen plans to study early childhood education with an eye towards becoming a teacher one day. Given his leadership qualities, work ethic and intelligence, Carter and his parents believe Kyle will succeed in his chosen field.
Additionally, Mariela Schmitgen said that her son’s general disposition and kind nature are among his most oft complimented characteristics, even more so than his abilities on the playing field.
“I’ve had numerous parents who have come up to me and said, ‘I’ve told my child that they should be more like Kyle Schmitgen,’” she said. “And as a parent, that’s the best compliment I can get.”
Schmitgen will be reporting to Muskingum in the fall, but first, he and his teammates have unfinished business to attend to. At the time this went to print, the Bulldogs are in a dead heat for the SBC-National with Blanchester and had already secured the No. 3 seed in the Division II sectional. The road to the sectional championship will likely pit Batavia against SBC foes Goshen and New Richmond.
In order for the Bulldogs to claim their first sectional title since 2008, Batavia will need Schmitgen’s leadership and ability to be on full display.
Coach Carter said he would expect nothing less from his senior leader.