Wright State University

The Guardian

Raider Spotlight: John Brodner is an integral part of the team

Alan Hieber, Contributing Writer

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Wright State’s deep batting order helped carry the Raiders to their second straight NCAA tournament, which made it fitting that the ninth and final batter in that order was the MVP of the Horizon League Tournament contested last weekend.

Senior Raider third baseman John Brodner was initially noticed by then WSU assistant coach Greg Lovelady during a summer league game. Lovelady was there on a recruiting trip to watch current WSU pitcher Trevor Swaney, and Brodner just happened to be the catcher for Swaney.

Luckily for Wright State Brodner was recruited at his primary position of infielder, which is where he excels defensively as one of the “best third basemen” that Lovelady has ever seen.

“He (Lovelady) said I wasn’t too good of a catcher, but I could hit decent,” Brodner said. “He later found out that I was a shortstop just trying to catch for my buddy (Swaney).”

“Defensively he (Brodner) has been phenomenal,” Lovelady said. “It is amazing some of the plays he makes that are not routine that he makes look routine.”

When he isn’t making impressive plays at third base Brodner is able to lighten things up in tense situations.

“He keeps the locker room loose and is a fun guy to be around. Some of the things that come out of his mouth make zero sense, but he is funny,” Lovelady said.

“Even in tense moments when the game is on the line you can count on John to say something usually not on purpose, but makes everyone laugh and loosen up”

At last weekend’s league tournament Nishwitch Stadium nearly filled to capacity with Raider supporters. Brodner had several family members on hand, including his sister Emily, who is a catcher for the softball team at Illinois.

Growing up Brodner was like a coach himself when he would pitch softballs to his sister in the backyard.

“She was a good enough hitter, but I was always trying to teach her things that could also improve her game,” Brodner said. “Softball is different than baseball, but swinging a bat is pretty much the same.”

Brodner says that the support of his parents Joseph and Becky kept his love of the game strong enough to continue playing it.

“They always told me to do something that I love, and if didn’t love the game they didn’t want me to play it,” Brodner said. “They always made sure that they didn’t push me too hard to where I lost the love for the game. It’s big to have a family that supports you, but doesn’t push you too hard.”

Solid support from his team and fans was his favorite part of being a Raider, according to Brodner.

“I love the coaches, the guys and all the support from the fans,” Brodner said.

“Knowing that people are on your side, that your brothers and coaches have your back, and that they’re going to stick up for you is the best part of the team.”

Brodner admitted he had to hold back tears since last weekend’s games were probably the last ones he will play on his home field.

It appears Brodner won’t let his collegiate career end shorty with the perseverance he has shown this season by lifting his .200 batting average to .290 currently.

“I’m really proud of him. He could have given up and just hit .200 for the rest of the year,” Lovelady said. “He just kept working, pressing and has had a great second half of the season.”

It was Brodner’s bat in the ninth spot that made a visible impact in Wright State’s 7-2 and league tournament clinching victory as he drove in three of those runners, which helped propel him to league tournament MVP honors. Lovelady prides his team’s ability to keep pitchers honest with depth throughout the entire lineup.

“Every game it feels like someone steps up, which I think puts a lot of pressure on the other team’s arms,” Lovelady said. “I was happy for him (Brodner). John being a senior, he has been such an integral part of our team.”

Brodner and his teammates take on teams like Louisville and Ohio State in their Regional, but whatever the result they are not lacking in fearlessness and confidence.

“What Love always says is that we’re against the ball, so it’s irrelevant who we’re playing as long as we just play against the ball and focus on the next pitch,” Brodner said.

 

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Raider Spotlight: John Brodner is an integral part of the team