Conference homers race will continue into playoffs

By: Matthew Revels, Sports Editor

Newman baseball player Jenner Steele has had quite a season on the field this year.

Steele, a senior first baseman and designated hitter, now leads the MIAA in batting average, homeruns, hits, slugging, total bases earned and OPS.

But that’s only part of the story about Steele’s senior season. Perhaps the biggest story is home runs.

Steele is now in second place in the MIAA with 20, behind only Missouri Southern’s Matt Miller, who has 22. The conference home run race should be especially interesting since the Jets and the Missouri Southern Lions play this weekend in Joplin, Missouri, in the first round in the MIAA conference tournament.

Steele got going in the middle of the season after a rough preseason in the early spring. As the season continued and the Jets hit the middle of conference play, Steele started battling fellow senior Zach Stewart for the home run title at Newman. The record to beat was 11, and even though Steele reached it first, Stewart was hot on his tail. The two battled it out until Steele ran away with the competition during the team's series at Pittsburg State April 21-23, where Steele hit four home runs in three games.

Over the season, three players, all seniors, broke or met the previous single season record of 11 home runs: Steele with 20, Stewart with 15 and Jake Angelico with 11.

Steele said he’s shocked about his current reality.

“I would have never thought I would be in a home run race in the MIAA,” Steele said. “I've always dreamed of hitting 15 home runs in a season. The fact that I have hit 20 is unreal.”

Steele said he is also proud that he has fit into the role as one of the big offensive guys for the Jets.

“It's been amazing being a go-to guy when hitting,” Steele said. “I've put a ton of hard work into hitting throughout my years, and it's pretty amazing to see it all come together.”

After this season, Steele plans to get a job teaching history classes and coaching baseball. He also wanted to share a few words of wisdom that have helped him through his baseball career.

“Just play hard and have fun. Enjoy the time you have with your brothers because it doesn't last long and you're going to miss them all,” Steele said. “Baseball is a hard sport, so stay confident, love the game, and I promise you will have a good time.”

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics