Senior Hunter Markwardt, a business management major from Argyle, TX, begins his second season as a center fielder for the Oklahoma Christian University Eagles baseball team. On Jan. 9, Markwardt was named the South Central Region Player to Watch for the 2019 season by Collegiate Baseball.
After coming off an injury, which caused him to sit for 37 games, Markwardt looks to remain healthy and lead the team to a conference playoff appearance.
Q: Who were you recruited by out of high school, and where did you decide to play?
“After high school, I could have gone to junior college, but I went to Abilene Christian [University] and played there for two years before I transferred. I got hurt my sophomore year. I pulled my hamstring, and I lost my scholarship, so I left. I pulled it the second game of the season my sophomore year, and then I re-pulled it the first game back a month later, and I was out the rest of the year.”
Q: What makes you passionate about baseball?
“I have played [baseball] since I was four years old. Unlike a lot of people, who lose interest or they don’t love it as much as they used to, I feel like every year I like it more and more.”
Q: What are some of the toughest challenges you’ve faced being a collegiate athlete?
“Definitely the toughest challenge is not to get too high or too low during the season. It’s a very long season and being able to stay level-headed whether we’re playing really well or we’re playing really bad, both individually or as a team, is really important, because it can be going really well and, if you’re not careful, it can go bad.”
Q: Even though you were injured last year, you still had a lot of success. How did that feel being so successful and getting wrecked with another injury?
“I pulled my other hamstring. It was hard. I was really confused. I’d worked really hard to make sure that didn’t happen, so it was really frustrating. Being able to pick back up where I left off was good, because I was worried. I was injured in the middle of the season. Being rewarded for my success even after being injured meant I’ve still got it. I can still do it.”
Q: How successful do you think you can be if you can remain healthy for a full season?
“I think it’s all about how I prepare for the games. I was really good about it at the start of the year, and then toward the middle of the year I got kind of lazy stretching and doing my pre-game routine, so I think being able to stick to a routine each game will help a lot.”
Q: What personal goals do you have for this season?
“Well, I feel like my personal goal is also the team goal: make it to playoffs. Some other ones [I have] are to make first team in the conference, because I was second team last year, and to steal 30 bases. Those are the two big ones.”
Q: How does the team look this year after preseason last semester?
“I’m really excited. We have a very young team. We have a few older guys that lead the way, but I think we have a lot of young guys who are ready to get out there and prove themselves. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people with how hard we play, and I think wins are going to come out of that.”
Q: What are some specific team goals set in place for this season?
“We haven’t sat down and talked about them but, for me, the main goal is to make it to Cleburne, which is where we have playoffs, so to be one of the top four teams in the conference—that’s the main one.”
Q: What does it mean for you and for the team to have you named as the South Central Region “Player to Watch” by Collegiate Baseball?
“It was really cool. I put a lot of hard work in this fall and this winter. Obviously, it doesn’t mean a lot until I go out and play, but it’s really exciting because the season is right around the corner. It is nice because being an older guy on the team, a lot of the younger guys look up to me. Being recognized like that gives them a little more respect for me.”
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
“After graduation, I plan to get my master’s and come back for another year of eligibility.”
Q: Are you in full health for the upcoming season?
“Yes, I am. Right now, I’m good to go.”
The Oklahoma Christian baseball team opens its 2019 season on Feb. 1 at Wendell Simmons Field in Edmond, OK, in the Edmond First Pitch Invitational. They will face Pittsburg State University at 10 a.m. for their first game of the invitational.