Life of Neuqua Valley’s Mike Riesner all about baseball
Mike Riesner’s life is baseball.
Although he’s already set to play at Bradley University next season, the Neuqua Valley senior remains committed to a 12-11-1 team that has struggled to play well with consistency this spring.
“Baseball is what gives me purpose,” he said. “I’m not the kid who goes and parties on weekends. I take school seriously and I’ve chosen baseball for my path. I couldn’t imagine life without it.”
It shows on Riesner’s bedroom wall, which is adorned with a Derek Jeter Fathead and countless bats and gloves. It’s easy to determine that baseball is his passion.
“When I come home from practice or games I’ll sit down and watch the MLB Network,” he said. “I was never forced to play and I’ve gotten 110 percent support. It’s the life I’ve chosen and I’m always thinking about the game.”
Through Tuesday, Riesner was hitting .350. He’s had seven multi-hit games, with nine doubles, 12 RBI and 17 runs.
“My batting average probably doesn’t speak well because I’ve had a lot of hard outs and I’m walking more this year,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball pretty good, but there’s always room for improvement. We still have a lot of season left.”
He’s also blossomed into a team leader.
“He prepares as well, and practices as hard, as anyone we’ve ever had,” Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said. “He’s a natural leader who wants nothing more than for him and the team to be the very best, and he’s willing to do anything to reach that goal.”
A year ago, Riesner was the starting second baseman for a 30-11 Neuqua Valley team that captured fourth place in Class 4A. This season, he switched to shortstop.
“That’s not an uncommon transition,” Renner said. “Plus, he has played a lot of shortstop with his summer team.”
Riesner is constantly working on his defensive game.
“Our shortstop from last year, Matt Wollnick (Webster), helped me a ton,” Riesner said. “And Ryan Krainz (Naperville North senior) is a little dude, but a stud shortstop, and he helped me with my footwork. We got together three to four times a week and his dad hit us groundballs. It helped me with my hands and feet a lot, and you realize at shortstop a good arm helps, but you have to have footwork and be fluid.”
He hopes to help the Wildcats go on a nice run heading into the postseason.
“He probably looks at his numbers and thinks they’re not where he’d like to be at, but he’s had some good at bats that resulted in outs too,” Renner said.
“There’s plenty of time in the season and he knows that. He knows the most important part of the season is ahead of us.”