When Scott Windler graduates from Franklin College in a few weeks, he’ll possess more than a bachelor’s degree.
He’ll also own a pair of all-time records that have been instrumental to the success of the Grizzlies’ baseball team.
A senior outfielder and four-year starter, Windler recently became Franklin’s career leader in hits and stolen bases — numbers that have helped propel the Grizzlies to four consecutive trips to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
Only the top four teams in the 10-team HCAC qualify for the tournament. The Grizzlies (25-15, 15-10 HCAC) are seeded fourth.
Heading into today’s opener at tournament-host and No. 1 seed Manchester (24-15, 18-7), Windler has career totals of 235 hits and 59 stolen bases. He set the hits mark during a May 2 win against Bluffton and broke the stolen bases record the next day during another win against Bluffton.
“It’s an honor to get those (records), and it’s been a great time these past four years here,” said Windler, a former standout at Lafayette Central Catholic High School. “I’m just glad to see our team get to the conference tournament and hopefully go pretty far.”
Windler’s contributions have gone a long way in getting the Grizzlies to the postseason tournament.
Franklin’s second-leading hitter with a .377 batting average, he leads the team in home runs (six), triples (four), RBIs (44), stolen bases (23) and runs scored (40). He also has drawn 22 walks and has a team-best slugging percentage of .604 percent.
“Scott’s had a tremendous career. He walked in the door (as a freshman) starting for us in the outfield,” 17th-year Franklin coach Lance Marshall said. “He is an incredibly hard worker, in the weight room and on the field. He’s been a great leader for us, on and off the field, highly respected by his teammates, plays really hard, plays the game the right way.
“Really proud and really happy to have had him here the last four years.”
A career .365 hitter, Windler has struck out only 23 times this season in 159 at-bats. On the base paths, he’s been caught stealing only three times in 26 attempts.
Moreover, at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Windler has added a power element to his swing (his six home runs are a career-high) and has drawn the interest of big-league scouts, which hasn’t surprised Marshall. Windler hit .414 as a freshman and has been among NCAA Division III’s most consistent players ever since.
“Scott has great speed. He’s got great power to all fields, and he’s become a really good hitter deep in the count,” Marshall said. “He’s become an outstanding hitter with two strikes.
“He can hit the ball to right, he can hit the ball to left and drive it out of the park either way, and he has big-time power.”
A sociology and criminal justice major, Windler’s focus is on the HCAC Tournament and advancing in the postseason. But if the opportunity to play at the next level knocks, he plans to open the door.
“I’ve thought about it. And if it comes to me, I’ll probably take it up and see how far that goes,” Windler said. “I’m seeing (the ball) pretty well.
“Obviously, there’s some work to do, but I’m pretty confident going into the conference tournament of being able to do what I’ve been doing lately.”