HUNTINGTON, Ind. - Eric Schultz’s name is already littered all over the Huntington University baseball record book, and he’s not slowing down any time soon.
Schultz — the Foresters’ career record holder for runs, walks, stolen bases and singles — set Huntington’s career hits record Thursday night with a fifth-inning single to rightfield, the 231st hit of his storied career, during the Foresters’ 7-3 win over Indiana Wesleyan University. The knock moved him past Heath Luther, whose record had stood since 2001.
“In terms of the best overall hitter I’ve coached, he may be right at the top,” said Huntington skipper Mike Frame, who is in his 28th year. “He is certainly going to go down as one of the better players to ever play at Huntington.”
Schultz came in to Thursday’s double dip with the Wildcats needing two hits to break the record. He notched a bunt single in the fourth inning before surpassing the mark with a fifth-inning single to right.
“(The pitcher) got two strikes on me and threw me a change-up,” said Schultz. “I kind of got out in front and hit a little base hit past the first baseman.”
For his career, Schultz is hitting .397 with 178 runs, 170 singles and 105 walks (to just 71 strikeouts). He’s swiped 61 bags and only been caught 14 times for an 81 percent success rate. He is on pace to set new standards for career at-bats and games played, giving him seven different records.
Schultz has amassed at least 50 hits in each of his first three seasons, and he’s smacked 11 home runs to go with 101 RBIs.
He credits his coach back at John F. Kennedy High School for laying the foundation that made him the hitter he is today.
“A lot of it comes from working with my high school coach,” said Schultz. “He was always on me about being a leadoff hitter. That kind of helped me have the mentality of seeing a bunch of pitches and being comfortable with two strikes. I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes, and I think that helps me a lot.”
Schultz — who is from Palo, Iowa — came to Huntington during the semester break in the 2008-09 school year. Unhappy with where he was (Wartburg College), Schultz was looking to transfer and had heard good things about Huntington. The timing was perfect for Frame and the Foresters, who just saw their starting shortstop go down with an injury.
Schultz showed up on campus and immediately became an impact player, hitting .408 as the team’s leadoff man.
“The funny thing about all this is I didn’t event recruit him,” Frame said. “He just came. I didn’t know anything about him. He called me midway through the year and said he didn’t like where he was and wanted to know if there was an opportunity to play here. You look back at that and just wonder where we’d be without him.”
Schultz has put himself in the conversation with Luther (1998-2001), Darren Tecklenburg (1987-90), Mark LeBeau (2003-03), Mark Parker (1975-78) and Andrew Drummond (2006-10) when it comes to talking about the best hitters in Huntington history.
Two things separate Schultz: his ability to spray the ball all over the field and his wheels.
“Eric can use the whole field,” Frame said. “I think that’s what makes him such a good hitter. He doesn’t strike out a lot. As he’s gotten stronger, he’s added the ability to turn on the ball.
“He’s just a really tough out,” he added. “Given the fact that he can run, he’s a good bunter and he hits from the left side, that just makes him that much more difficult to deal with. He can do so many things at the plate, and then when he gets on base, you’ve got to deal with him running.”
In the midst of his senior season, Schultz and the Foresters are in a heated battle to finish in the top five of the Mid-Central Conference, thereby earning a bid to the MCC Tournament. Schultz has helped the Foresters capture the last two tourney crowns.
“I’ll think about all this when I’m done,” Schultz said. “Some of my teammates were telling be about (the records) this last week. I’d rather just keep playing, and then after I’m done I’ll look back and be happy about the different accomplishments. For now, I just try to think about the next game.”
Provided by Austan Kas, The Herald Press