- Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 00:16
- Published on Wednesday, 09 July 2014 00:16
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He may be the best freshman collegiate third baseman in the country. Andrew Knizner’s journey to a potential career in Major League Baseball is paved with gold. The N.C. State freshman with family ties to King George has exceeded all expectations.
Most notably, Knizner’s .330 batting average, 43 runs scored, 69 hits (18 multi-hit games) including a triple, 11 doubles, 4 homeruns, 47 RBIs and 52 games, has resulted in a host of national awards. Is he the real deal, and does he possess the right stuff to take it to the next level?
After 16 years of coaching some of the best athletes ever to put on a baseball uniform, Wolfpack baseball head coach Elliot Avent is astounded at Knizner’s ability to blend academics with his performance on the field. “For Andrew to come in and do the things he has done as a freshman, is remarkable,” Avent said. “Not only is he a freshman All-American, but he is an academic All-American. The guys used to kid him about the amount of time he studied, but he put the same amount of time on the baseball field. It’s fun to watch him grow.”
His list of accomplishments will easily convince any baseball aficionado that Knizner’s road to the next level is closer than you think: Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American; National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American Team; (NCBWA) Freshman All-American - 1st Team; Baseball America Freshman All-American - 2nd Team; Rawlings/ American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Atlantic All-Region - 1st Team; All-ACC 3rd Team; ACC All-Academic Team; First Team - Perfect Game Freshman All-American.
A proven hitter capable of crushing the ball over the fence or into right, center or left field gaps, Knizner’s season included a clinic in hitting in the following games: Irish Classic, 6 for 11 hits (.545), 2 Runs, 1 HR, 3 RBIs; Florida State series, 7 for 13 hits (.538), 1 Run, 3 RBIs, Clemson series, 5 for 13 hits (.385), 1 Run, 2 Doubles, 1 HR, 3 RBIs.
“It almost surprises me sometimes on how well I’ve played,” Knizner said. “I’ve worked hard to get to this point in my career, and I am very happy.”
Most recently, Knizner was chosen to play in the Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League in Massachusetts for the Wareham Gatemen team. Knizner’s selection was rare, because the league normally focuses on juniors and seniors. The league has a longstanding reputation as an attraction for MLB scouts; only the top players in the country are selected to play.
On June 20, during a game against Hyannis, he was honored as league player of the game. He finished the game with a 3-4 plate appearance that included 3 RBIs, 1 run scored and 1 stolen base.
Knizner’s athletic and academic success is found in a strong family support group that includes his parents, Mike and Theresa (DeBernard) Knizner, sister, Michelle Knizner (senior at Hanover High School), and grandparents, Robert and Laddie DeBernard of King George. Currently, the rising sophomore and industrial engineering major has a 4.0 G.P.A.
Knizner is no stranger to the spotlight of athletic stardom. During his years at Hanover High School, the former short stop played in the AAU National Championship and won one of two recent VHSL Group AAA titles. In addition, he was named All-Metro, All-Region, and All-District by the Richmond Times Dispatch. He was also named First-Team All-Virginia Underclassmen by Rivals.
Knizner’s leadership skills were recognized when he was honored in high school as a captain for both the baseball and football teams. In his role as quarterback during the 2013 season, he led the Hawks into the playoffs.
Upon his arrival at N.C. State, Knizner filled the shoes of third-round MLB San Diego Padres draftee, Trea Turner. Knizner not only filled Turner’s position, but he quickly adjusted to the collegiate level and excelled both in the infield and at the plate.
“I fought and battled hard to be on the team and to be able to start,” Knizner said. “When I got the opportunity to play, I took it and ran with it.”
The Wolfpack had seven players selected in the 2013 MLB draft, including first-round selections Carlos Rodon (Chicago White Sox) and Trea Turner (San Diego Padres).
Upon reflection, Knizner realizes the importance of returning to the team as a leader and of off-season weight conditioning. In order for the Wolfpack to achieve their College World Series dreams, 19 new recruits will have to step up their game and quickly make the adjustment to the college level.
“People always say it’s the same game, but collegiate baseball is a lot faster, and most of the pitchers are throwing over 90 mph,” Knizner said.
Now that Knizner is on the verge of mastering the game that he loves, the million-dollar question lingers: Where will he end up during the next three years? The very thought of Knizner’s future in athletics or corporate America is an adrenalin rush. Fasten your seatbelts; the world of Knizner is about to unfold.