During the final eight weeks of the spring semester, CisternYard Sports will be releasing a feature story each week on a student athlete at the College of Charleston that our sports staff thinks you should know. In our eighth and final week, we highlight junior shortstop Gunnar Heidt of the baseball team.
For most College of Charleston athletes, being drafted into the major leagues is something that will only come true in their wildest dreams.
Gunnar Heidt, however, has a chance to make his dream in a reality.
Playing shortstop for Charleston baseball, Heidt has impressed fans and scouts alike throughout his three years at the College and has a serious shot to be selected in the upcoming MLB Draft, something that he has worked towards his entire life.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I’ve watched and played baseball my whole life and it’s the only thing I want to do. Baseball is the reason I came to school and the only thing I really know,” Heidt said.
For the second straight season, Heidt is leading Charleston in batting average, while knocking in the second most RBIs on the team.
Heidt says his .330 batting average is a product of studying the pitcher before he steps to the plate.
“I try to pick out little things that the pitcher does to help me, sometimes the tip off their pitches and you just got to pay attention. But besides that, I just look for balls in the strike zone and try to square them up. That’s really my only goal,” he said.
Aside from leading the team at the plate, Heidt serves as an anchor of the defense at the shortstop position.
“I’ve been here for three years, I’m a veteran, and I am one of the captains on the field, so I have to make sure everybody is in the right place and are doing their jobs. I’m constantly running scenarios through my head before they happen on the field so I’m always prepared. Before each pitch, you need to visualize what might happen and then be ready for it,” he said.
Heidt says he got his work ethic from his father, who has been his mentor in the game of baseball since he was a child.
“He’s my biggest fan. He wants it for me more than I do. He wants to see me win even more than I want to win. He wants to see me succeed, so he’s always pushed me and been my motivator,” he said.
With the Cougars currently holding onto the top seed in the CAA, Heidt attributes much of their success to a season opening series win over North Carolina.
“We were excited before that opening weekend because we knew we were going to be a good team. We played a great team in UNC and took two games from them for a series win and then went onto win nine straight [games],” he said.
The Cougars’ series-finale win against North Carolina immediately ranked as one of Heidt’s favorite moments in a Charleston uniform.
“We won on Friday and then lost on Saturday. It came down to the rubber match and we won that game. That was such a thrill, we were all excited, and you just can’t top that,” he said.
Heidt’s team hit a rough patch midway through the season, dropping tough games to ranked opponents in Houston and South Carolina. Although they have regained their composure for conference play, Heidt knows they are going to need their best performances for the upcoming CAA Tournament.
“We need to put it all together. Either we are pitching awesome or hitting awesome, but we haven’t really connected on all cylinders yet. The CAA is a new conference for us and everyone is going to be shooting for us because we are the new kids on top. We’re going to have to come out and play hard because every team is good. In the tournament it’s just one game, so you have to play your best,” he said.
Heidt hopes to help propel the Cougars to a CAA Championship in their inaugural season, which would advance Charleston to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. And the further the Cougars advance, the more time he has to state his case to all 32 Major League Baseball teams.
“I would tell [MLB teams] that I’m one of the best shortstops in the country. I’ve played with and against the best players in the country. I always compare myself to those guys when I play them. People have told me I’ve got a shot to be drafted. I see myself playing in the major leagues and I will do anything to get there,” he said.
If confidence is the key to success, Heidt has no shortage. But if he is going to play at the next level, his play on the field will have to prove he belongs.
For now, however, Heidt is focused on one thing: advancing his Cougars to NCAA Regionals later this month.
Previous “Eight for Eight” editions: Sarah Boyle (Swimming), Mackenzie Johnston (XC), Darcy Dorton (Volleyball), Daan Brinkman (Soccer), Kelly Kambourelis (Tennis), Anthony Stitt (Basketball), Ali Blumenthal (Sailing)