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OU junior steps up as big bat for Bobcats

The sparse crowd chats during a Thursday afternoon ballgame at Ohio University’s Bob Wren Stadium. Late-afternoon sunshine and comfortable temperatures make it a great day to sit outside, and the fans put more interest into their side conversations than the actual game.

Baseball is just the backdrop.

Then, the conversations abruptly quiet and the crowd’s focus shifts toward home plate.

All eyes fix on the leftfielder as he strolls to the plate.

The players on Ohio’s bench gaze at Krauss, and the opposing team’s outfielders take a few steps back toward the fence.

In the front row, a young girl realizes what’s happening, looks up at her mother and says, “Mommy, maybe Marc Krauss can hit another home run.”
When Marc Krauss hits, everyone watches.

“I kind of feel that,” Krauss says. “But I want that kind of expectation. I want those kinds of things being said.”

The girl’s remark reflects the expectations nearly everybody has for Krauss, the junior from northwest Ohio. He has separated himself as the leader of the Ohio baseball team and one of the most feared hitters in the Mid-American Conference.

Tuesday, Krauss became the first-ever Ohio baseball player to be named the MAC Player of the year.

Krauss is a known commodity, and he also happens to be one of the most established power hitters in college baseball.

Every time Krauss steps to the plate, people expect the extraordinary.

“That means people are looking for me to help the team in whatever way,” Krauss says.

Hitting a home run is often not enough. This season, with Krauss at the plate, the question has become not if he will hit one, but how far out of the stadium it will travel.

Earlier this season he wowed people by hitting a home run over the “batter’s eye” in center field. A few games later, he put a ball in the middle of outfield — on the softball diamond nearby.

Krauss started the year as a pre-season All-American, and he has delivered on expectations, leading Ohio in nearly every offensive category while facing a steady diet of junk pitches and walking more often than any other Bobcat.

“As an athlete, as a competitor, you want people to recognize you,” Krauss says. “You want to have that bull’s-eye because it means you’re doing well.”

The increased buzz around Krauss this year has not slowed his production, and he is having the best season of his college career. He is tied for second in the country in home runs (24), and several scouting services have him listed as a top-50 prospect in the upcoming Major League Baseball draft on June 9.

The more people talk about him, the better he gets.

“He is that money-type player,” says Greg Inselmann, Krauss’ coach at Patrick Henry High School in Deshler, Ohio. “He thrives on pressure.”

If he gets drafted high enough, Krauss will likely leave Ohio and pursue his dream to become a professional ballplayer.

Krauss has plenty of raw talent.

He moves around the diamond with a smooth demeanor, and he says playing sports is easy for him.

It always has been.

In high school, he was a three-time all-state football player and starred on the basketball team. And those are just sports he played in the off-season.

People who have watched Krauss develop over the years say his combination of raw talent and mental grasp of the game has allowed him to excel.

“He’s very competitive inwardly,” Inselmann says. “His approach to the game is very good, and he never gets too up when things are going well or too down when things aren’t.”

Every time he takes the field, Krauss carries the same attitude.

He plays with confidence, a swagger, knowing that he can hit nearly anything thrown his way.

In some ways, Krauss’ calm walk and relaxed manner on the diamond give off the impression that he does not care. He appears to do everything with ease, almost nonchalantly.

But he does care. So much.

“I am very competitive, and a lot of people have found that out,” Krauss says. “Whether I’m playing a board game, or if I’m out in the field, there is this goal to reach new heights with me.”

Krauss cares about nearly every aspect of his game. In high school, Krauss would set the tempo for practice and teammates would follow his lead. Not much has changed in college.

He is never fully content with his performance, and coaches admire his commitment to improve, even with people talking about the big leagues everywhere he looks.

“Even with all the success he has, he doesn’t think he knows it all,” Ohio coach Joe Carbone says. “He’s very open to what you’re saying to him.

“Marc is the ultimate guy that you always want to have. First of all, he’s a great athlete. Second of all, he’s a hard worker. Third of all, he is smart. Fourth of all, he is coachable,” Carbone says.

For a player who has the potential to make a living with a baseball bat, his commitment to thrive off the field amazes some people.

Just as he does on the field, Krauss excels in the classroom, earning Academic All-MAC honors last season.

Everyone sees Krauss as the slugger who can nearly launch a ball into orbit, but for someone who has known Krauss for several years, Inselmann offers one word to describe the talented ballplayer.

“Quality,” Inselmann said, “on and off the field.”

Category: Athens News, Baseball, Feature Writing

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