10/12/2015 8:49 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – October 13, 2015 – When assembling the 2016 Northwest Indiana Oilmen roster, there’s no better place to start than with the reigning Midwest Collegiate League Most Valuable Player.
Trinity Christian junior outfielder Tyler Sroczynski, a Dyer native and Illiana Christian High School graduate, will return for a second summer of Oilmen baseball.
Sroczynski’s 2015 season will go down as one of the biggest success stories in Oilmen history. He posted the highest batting average ever by an Oilmen player at .397, compiled a .493 on-base percentage, launched three home runs and drove in 31 runs. He ranked second in the league in hitting, matched the team record for home runs and led NWI in average, home runs, RBIs, OBP and stolen bases (17).
“I had no idea I would do that,” Sroczynski said. “I didn’t even think I would be a starter on the team. I had no clue.”
No one saw Sroczynski’s summer-long batting practice session coming. After all, he was coming off a spring season at Wabash Valley Junior College in which he played sparingly. Sroczynski was healthy, but he didn’t crack the Warriors lineup. He received only 11 at-bats, and went 4-for-11 with a home run and four RBIs in 11 games.
That came on the heels of a 2014 season in which Sroczynski sat out as a freshman at Division-I Grand Valley State.
Once the speedy outfielder finally received consistent playing time as a member of the Oilmen, everything started to click.
“Not playing all spring, I lost a lot of confidence at Wabash,” Sroczynski said. “Coming out in the summer and doing what I did, I gained it back. It’s given me tremendous confidence going into this season.”
The highlights of Sroczynski’s first season with the Oilmen were almost too numerous to list. His most productive day of the season came on July 25, when he racked up six hits and seven RBIs in a doubleheader sweep of the Southland Vikings. The performance included the farthest home run he’s hit in his life. The best available estimate of the distance the moon shot traveled was provided by manager Adam Enright when he said, “a country mile.”
Every time the Oilmen put together a big inning, it seemed like the talented leadoff man had some involvement. He also stole four bases in five innings in the 2015 Midwest Collegiate League All-Star Game at Oil City Stadium.
Enright, an assistant coach for former Oilmen manager Justin Huisman at Trinity Christian, looked on with a smile as his player excelled all summer long.
“It opened up some eyes for guys at the NAIA level and small, private schools,” Enright said following the final game of the 2015 Oilmen season. “You might have a guy who’s got a chance to play after college. A guy that has a chance to be a special guy. Having him do so well with the talent that was around him makes you happy to see that there’s going to be some recognition for a guy like that from a small school at the NAIA level.”
The chance to stay home, work and complete an internship attracted Sroczynski back to the Oilmen. The beauty of Oil City Stadium and the chance for team redemption after second-place regular season finish and first-round playoff exit made the decision to return all the easier.
When late May rolls around, it will be time for Sroczynski to uphold his status as one of the most productive offensive players in Oilmen history.
Until then, he’ll be completing his first year with the Trolls, where he’s surrounded by Oilmen connections like Huisman, Enright, catcher Zack Jones and infielder Kyle Van Kalker. When it comes to Sroczynski’s potential in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Enright put it best: He’s got a chance to be something really special.