When the mood strikes him, Landon Fink won’t have to travel far for a taste of home — literally and figuratively.
One of the area’s most productive players throughout his three-year varsity career, the 2013 Greenwood graduate has decided to continue his baseball career at Franklin College.
His reasons are simple. The NCAA Division III program is a winner, is just the right size and is close to home.
What’s not to love?
“I like that it was close to home, because if I want a home-cooked meal or something like that, I can get that whenever I want,” said Fink, one of the most accomplished players in Greenwood history. “And the campus was really nice. That was another thing. I kind of like the small feel to the campus, rather than some bigger college like IU or something.”
Franklin coach Lance Marshall insists the fit is mutual.
“We’re ecstatic to have Landon come to Franklin,” Marshall said. “He’s not only a terrific player, but he’s an even better young man. We’re really pleased to add him to the program.”
An honors student who plans to major in exercise science, Fink was a fountain of production throughout his starting career for the Woodmen.
Greenwood’s career leader in home runs (15) and RBIs (111), he was also its No. 1 pitcher and was twice voted MVP by teammates — no small honor on a senior-laden team that included close friend Alex Krupa.
Krupa, the Daily Journal’s 2013 Player of the Year, was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 19th round of last month’s Major League First-Year Player Draft. Although he declined the Reds’ offer, Krupa is one of four Woodmen, including Fink, who are continuing to play in college.
Krupa is attending Iowa Western Community College. Conner Beidleman is going to Marian University. And Tylor Martin will play for Danville (Ill.) Community College.
“Several kids on this team are going to play somewhere, yet two years in a row he’s voted team MVP,” Woodmen coach Andy Bass said. “When you look at all his numbers and everything else, that’s one thing. But the other things he did for this team, when he was up, you always had an idea in the back of your mind he was going to hit one out of here right now, every time he came to the plate.
“And when he was pitching, you always felt confident that if you scored a couple of runs, you were going to win.”
Selected the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year in 2012, Fink put up impressive numbers as a junior. He hit .409 with six home runs and 43 RBIs and was 8-2 on the mound with a 2.12 ERA.
He was even better as a senior.
Fink hit .485 with seven home runs and a school single-season record 48 RBIs. Although an injury limited his pitching innings, he was still 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA for the 17-11-1 Woodmen.
When he wasn’t pitching, Fink played played first base. He typically played third his junior year and has experience at shortstop and second base.
Fink’s objective is to contribute regularly in the pitching rotation — or wherever the Grizzlies, 24-20 last season, need him.
“I was mainly wanting to concentrate on my pitching; but if they need me to hit, then I can do that, as well,” said Fink, who had interest from Division I IPFW and a number of Franklin’s rival schools in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. “So I’m hoping that I can go there and play and do the best that I can to start right away. It’s going to be tough, though.
“I’m just hoping that if I can go there and show them how I can play, I’ll get a role on the team my first year.”
Although there are on guarantees, Marshall envisions Fink having a chance to contribute in a meaningful way as a freshman — both as a pitcher and designated hitter and possibly in the infield.
“I’m sure he’ll have an opportunity to make contributions right away,” Marshall said. “He’s a hard worker, and he’s a very accomplished hitter and pitcher.
“He has a great attitude, a great work ethic and is a terrific student. He’s everything you’d want.”