Bellevue graduate Nick Raifsinder went from a strong baseball player as a junior to an all-Ohio performer as a senior.
Redmen coach Andy Dennings sees no reason Raifsnider won’t continue to develop as he continues his athletic career at Defiance College.
“Nick loves the game and he’ll put the time in to get better,” Dennings said. “He runs well, he has a good arm and he has good instincts. He’s got some room to grow and he’ll have a productive career.”
Raifsnider batted less than .300 as a junior before finishing second on the team hitting .464 as a senior. He was recognized second-team all-Ohio in center field as he broke the school record with 41 runs and tied the mark with four triples.
Raifsnider’s on-base percentage was .630.
“It’s very well deserved,” Dennings said of Raifsnider’s all-Ohio status. “As a leadoff hitter, I couldn’t ask for more. That’s (.630) hard to fathom. I haven’t seen a year like that in a long time. When you look at the numbers and his character, it was great to see him rewarded.”
Raifsnider worked with Dennings in the offseason after his junior season.
“His willingness and ability to hit middle/opposite,” Dennings said. “he’s worked to keep his hands inside the ball. He had a lot of hits to the middle and right side of the field. He added 200 points.
“His balance. He widened his stance and had more pop in his swing.”
Raifsnider takes great pride in the all-Ohio nod.
“The improvement was big and it made me happy,” he said. “I thank Dennings. We worked all winter on letting the ball get deep and going to right field. It made me a better hitter and I saw the ball better, which led to walks.”
Raifsnider led Bellevue in walks (23) and steals. He was third in hits.
Raifsnider’s work ethic sets him apart.
“He’s worked extremely hard throughout the course of his career,” Dennings said. “We saw a huge jump from his junior year. He was a good player but he didn’t have the results he wanted. He was never outworked in our program and that will lead to great things at Defiance.”
Defiance is a good fit for Raifsnider, who made playing baseball in college a prominent goal.
“It’s a small college,” he said. “I was looking for someting small. They have great coaches. They’re like Bellevue coaches. They’re energetic and happy to have me.
“That’s what I really wanted, Defiance gave me a chance and I’ll take it.”
Defiance coach Derek Woodley is searching for players who embrace the grind.
“They won 20 games last season and they’re excited about that,” Raifsnider said. “Coach Woodley has them becoming a top-notch Division III program.
“He said I have a great chance of playing in the outfield. I play hard. I’m patient. I go deep in counts with quality at-bats. That’s what they’re looking for.”