SLEEPY EYE - While on the mound this season, Adam Sellner delighted in doing everything he could to keep opposing hitters completely out of whack.
Using a steady barrage of curve balls, the Sleepy Eye St. Mary's senior kept batters constantly off balance, anchoring a dominant pitching staff that helped the Knights take the Tomahawk Conference title with a perfect 16-0 record.
"Pitching-wise, I tried to give batters something they haven't seen before," Sellner said. "There's not too many pitchers that I know that will throw 70 to 80 curve balls a game, where I do. I feel that keeping them uncomfortable was the main key for me this year."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary's senior Adam Sellner.
Sellner's efforts on the mound and as the Knights' leadoff hitter made him a near unanimous choice as the 2012 All-Journal Baseball Player of the Year.
Already an accomplished pitcher for the Knights, Sellner emerged as almost unhittable this year. He went 8-0 on the season, recording a 0.91 ERA and allowing only 27 hits in 54 innings of work. He struck out 73 batters and walked only 26.
He finished his time at St. Mary's with a career 2.14 ERA with a 16-2 record and 174 strikeouts.
Sellner attributed increased command of his curve ball as leading to his success this season, which he was able to throw without hanging it over the plate as much as in past years.
"A lot of players are used to other pitchers in the league throwing a lot of fastballs or changeups, where I'm coming with something that's moving different directions," Sellner said.
With the combination of Sellner's knee-buckling curveball and an overpowering fastball from teammate Sean Mathiowetz - who finished third in Player of the Year voting - the Knights had a formidable one-two punch at the top of their rotation this season.
"I think that was pretty key for us," Sellner said. "I mean, you're looking at two completely different pitchers. You have one pitcher like Sean who throws a lot of fastballs, and when you come around and you see me and I throw a lot of curveballs, I think it will throw a team off and make them uncomfortable."
At the plate, Sellner wasn't able to match his career-best .500 batting average from a season ago, but he still hit for an exceptional .390 average this season with 32 hits, four doubles, nine walks, 30 runs scored and 15 RBI.
"Pitching-wise I felt that I was at my strongest this year," Sellner said. "Hitting-wise, I felt maybe I dropped a little bit - maybe I got too antsy, I wasn't as patient as past years."
Sellner also exhibited great speed on the base paths, earning 13 stolen bases.
For his career he ended up with a .404 batting average, 102 hits, 83 runs scored, 17 doubles and 37 stolen bases.
After finishing the regular season undefeated, the Knights suffered an early exit in the playoffs at the hands of New Ulm Cathedral, ending the season with a 21-1 record.
Although the Knights seemed destined to challenge for a state title, Sellner feels that the team had a lot to be proud of with the way things ended up.
"I feel as a team that we exceeded how we thought we'd do," Sellner said. "Going into the season I didn't think we'd have an undefeated season, so I feel that we exceeded what we thought would be the outcome."
St. Mary's success in baseball this year came on the heels of a state tournament appearance in football and a run to the section championship game in basketball. Sellner was a member of all three teams.
"It was a lot of fun," Sellner said. "I think coming into this year we never really thought that we would get this far in one sport, let alone three. Just being able to be a part of it has been great."
This summer, Sellner has been playing baseball for both the Sleepy Eye Legion baseball team as well as playing amateur baseball for Stark. In the fall he will attend Riverland Community College in Austin, whom he will play baseball for in the spring.
He anticipates spending more time pitching than in the field initially with the Blue Devils. After two years he hopes the opportunity will come to transfer to a four-year college.
"If all goes well and I do good down there, hopefully I'll transfer to a four-year and hopefully maybe play some baseball wherever that leads me, too," Sellner said.