Saturday, May 24, 2014

A-Sun Player of the Year Max Pentecost Takes Time for 20 Questions

On Tuesday Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost became the first Owl in program history to land A-Sun Player of the Year honors as he batted .422 for the season with a league-best 97 hits and 54 RBI. The junior catcher tallied 21 doubles, eight homers and 50 runs scored, while adding 15 stolen bases. 

"It's an overall blessing," said Pentecost. "All the hard work we put in and the time and effort paid off. I'm glad I could receive this award and it means a lot to me and the team."

A Winder, Georgia, native, Pentecost entered the A-Sun Championship with the nation's longest hitting streak at 35 and is in the top five in the conference in hits, batting average, RBIs (55) and doubles (21) and is named on every major award watch list in the nation.

On the day he was announced as the Player of the Year, Pentecost took some time to go one-on-one with the A-Sun Insider for 20 questions. Find out more about Pentecost below.

Hobbies Outside of Baseball: Anything outdoors (hunting, fishing, riding four wheelers, etc) Favorite Athlete: Buster Posey Favorite MLB Team: Atlanta Braves Favorite Song: Amarillo by Morning Favorite Band/Artist: George Strait, Jamey Johnson Favorite Website: I don’t spend a lot of time online Favorite Movie: The Green Mile Favorite Actor: Tom Hanks Favorite Food: Country Fried Steak

Q: Of all the rankings that you are a part of, which national ranking means the most to you?
A: Our 16-game win streak that tied the nation’s longest streak, because that was really important to our team at that time.

Q: If you could improve one thing in your game what would it be?
A: Keeping on weight and staying strong. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but the season really wears on your body and it is a battle for me to stay strong and healthy sometimes

Q: What does it take to win an A-Sun Championship? A: We have to play like we have been playing. Our starting pitchers have done their job, and we have been able to contribute timely hits, move runners over, and play good all-around defense. We will have to continue that for sure in the championship.

Q: Any personal highlights from the season?
A: I guess a couple of things. First, I am proud I was able to experience the 35-game hitting streak. Then of course winning Player of the Year in a conference with a lot of really good players means a lot, it makes all of the hard work and sacrifice pay off.

Q: You are regarded as a probable top 15-20 pick in the upcoming MLB draft. What does that mean to you?
A: I really haven’t let that sink in yet. I am still just playing my hardest and living day-to-day. Making the majors has certainly been a goal and definitely an opportunity that I am looking forward to, but right now I am not worrying about it. I still have a few games left here at Kennesaw State and I am going to enjoy those to the fullest.

Q: Who’s the toughest pitcher you’ve had to face? How’d you do?

A: David Speer was a left-handed pitcher from Columbia. I think I had one hit against him. He had a four-pitch mix and he could put it wherever he wanted it. He definitely had all of the pitches and kept you off balance, really almost made it to where you got yourself out!

Q: Who’s the best young player you have played with, either in the A-Sun or in summer leagues? What stands out about him?
A: On our Cape team last summer there was a pitcher named Ryan Kellogg. He plays for Arizona State and I really think he is going to be a great player.

Q: What is your best memory as a baseball player? At KSU?
A: I have to go back to the 16-game win streak. We got off to a rough start and actually ended a seven-game losing streak with the beginning of the win streak. I am not really sure what happened, but something just got in us and it became contagious. During that time I think there were several games in which we were down three or four runs in the eighth or ninth innings and were able to get some come-from-behind wins, It was almost indescribable how we were doing it, but we did.

Q: What kind of advice can you offer to younger players out there who want to play college baseball?
A: Always play your hardest. Every day is another day that you get to play a great game when others are not so fortunate, it is a privilege to do that. Also, spend your off time doing things that make you a better person. And of course stay strong with the Lord.

Q: What is your personal game-day routine? What is your routine on the on-deck circle?
A: I don’t really have a routine per say, but I do get to the field early with some of the other guys and we just have a good time. We show up early, hang out, watch some tv, or go out on the field and toss around some other ball like a football or nerf ball, and just have a good time. But when we start stretching, we know that it is time to get in the mindset of getting ready to play.

Q: If you could excel at another position, what would it be?
A: Outfield. I played shortstop until I was about 11, then I began catching and have ever since. I played outfield a little here and there but I would like to give it more of a shot.

Q: Do you have a favorite saying or motto?
A: Live every day to the fullest. I guess that stems from having an uncle that passed away with Muscular Dystrophy and seeing the scenario of his life and how it unfolded. It really opened my eyes to how much we are blessed to be able to do and accomplish, and helped me realize not to take things for granted.

Q: What was the best advice that you were ever given?
A: My parents always told me that I could do whatever I put my mind to, and I have always believed that. That started when I began playing baseball and I have played all of my life and had some success with it, and I love playing. It is just a part of my life now.

Q: What about your training/preparation makes you better than most baseball players?
A: I try to stay in the weight room to stay healthy and strong. I know that some players get tired and more sore as the season goes on, but for me I stay in there because it keeps you healthy and helped protect from injury when you are tired and worn down. Plus I try to get as much sleep as I can because the season really wears on you, particularly on the body.

Q: What is your favorite situation in a game?
A: Any time there are runners in scoring position, hitting in the three-hole it is my job to get them in. That may mean bunting and moving them over, sacrificing on a long fly or driving one up the middle. That is one of the most important things to do in my position.

Q: When you were a kid what was the pretend situation in which you were the hero?
A: Actually this happened as late as my freshman year at KSU. We were in the conference championship and we had already lost one game. We were playing Stetson, it was the top of the ninth, and we were down three with two outs and bases were loaded when I got up. I doubled and scored everyone to tie the game, then we got another hit and ended up winning the game. That was my first big memory at Kennesaw State. I was one of only a few freshmen in the lineup and we ended up playing in the championship game, which we wouldn’t have if things hadn’t worked out that way for me in that moment.

Q: What is the worst slump you can recall? How did you come out of it?
A: Last season for the first 20 games I was hitting like .140. I was letting bad days carry over into the next day and finally I just had to clear my mind and adjust my attitude. I began playing how I know how to play and my attitude got better and my game picked up.

Q: How would you define a “good teammate”?
A: I think a good teammate is someone that you find off the field. They are someone who picks you up on or off the field when you are down, but yet they let you know what you should or should not be doing because they are concerned with the best for you. It is someone who you feel comfortable with just hanging out, so I think that person plays just as important role off the field as on it.

Q: How do you deal with failure on the baseball field?
A: I will get back to dugout, maybe get a drink, think about it some, pick up something or throw it back down on my bag and then start clearing my mind. You can’t let it carry over.

Q: How do you quiet your mind in the batters box?
A: Walking up to the plate I often will picture a time when I had a good at bat or got a solid hit and play that in my mind. That gives me positive mental notes, remembering how the swing felt and how I saw the pitches.

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