Jan. 19, 2020
Welcoming 21 new athletes onto a college team is uncommon. However, the Biola baseball program has done just that, creating depth to their new roster. Driven by three returning players, the team has beat the odds and risen to the top.
Senior Daniel Bodemer, junior Kyle Atkins, and sophomore Vinnie Fayard are the three baseball players that have set a high bar for the newcomers to Biola baseball.
“It’s been great seeing these guys get bigger and stronger,” said Head Coach John Verhoeven. “For Bodemer, he’s definitely taken on the leadership role this year. Vinnie has shown his dedication to the team, and Atkins has been working very hard since his sophomore year.”
The Eagles are fortunate to have a starting catcher like Bodemer, who has experienced the team’s GSAC and NAIA playoff runs. He knows the ups and downs of a new season. Playing four years on the team has shaped Bodemer’s skills behind the plate, and helped him gain a better knowledge of the league.
“Coming in as freshmen, I was intimidated and didn’t know what to expect,” said Bodemer. “But it was cool, because some of the older guys would take the younger guys under their wing.”
Now that Bodemer is a senior, he has taken on the responsibility of teaching the lower classmen what he learned from the upper classmen players. The leadership does not stop on the field as Bodemer participates in a weekly Bible study with the team. Although Bible study was something the team did not do last year, Bodemer feels that implementing it this year was a good idea.
“It’s brought a lot of guys together,” Bodemer said. “We get together and talk about issues and struggles and keep each other accountable. This is important, and it shows that the baseball team wants to be a part of the Biola community.”
In a large roster of 30 plus players, one can assume that some players might be isolated. Atkins, another returnee, could not disagree more. As a junior relief pitcher for the Eagles, he has seen his new team compete right alongside NAIA’s top conference competitors.
“This is one of the tightest knit teams I've ever been on,” said Atkins. “Bonding totally relates to how we perform on the field.”
Atkins, being one of the out of state players and the only pitcher from Florida, made his way to the ball club four years ago. It happened during a tour of Biola’s campus, and to his surprise, he was asked to try-out with the team. Borrowing cleats and a glove from Biola baseball players, Atkins nervously took ground balls, hit a round of batting practice and threw a bullpen.
The coaching staff noticed his performance, so two weeks later Verhoeven called and offered Atkins a scholarship. Atkins accepted the offer and said that there was something about the feel of Biola’s campus, and the people there that made him feel at home. Now a junior pitcher, he has become a go to reliever for the Eagles in late innings and will help in the playoffs.
Vinnie Fayard, a returning sophomore outfielder, has exemplified leadership skills to the new roster by his batting skills. Fayard’s four home runs on Feb. 25 against Point Loma Nazarene set a Biola and GSAC record. His fourth home run was a walk off shot that ended the game by a score of 16-13.
“I never thought it would happen,” said Fayard. “But right now, I’m not really thinking about it too much, because I’m trying to focus on winning.”
Fayard has been a crucial factor for the Eagles offense leading his team in homeruns with 13. Fayard was not a typical power hitter in his high school career. With three years on varsity, he only hit one home run.
However, when he came to Biola, coaches made a few adjustments with his swing. Soon after, Fayard was hitting more confidently and saw his hard work payoff. His goal before this season was to go double digits in home runs. Now that he has achieved this, the other new teammates have followed in his footsteps. Junior Garret Leon has 10 homers, senior Trevor Blood has nine and sophomore Mac Sullivan has five.
“Realistically, were shooting for fourth place right now,” said Verhoeven. “A regional playoff berth is within our reach if we can get our pitching on the same level as our offense.”
The Eagles dropped to 21-14, 14-12 in GSAC play after Thursday’s game when they fell 10-7 to No. 5 California Baptist University in the second game of a four-game GSAC series.
This Saturday, April 17, 2010 come watch the Eagles close out their four-game series with a doubleheader beginning at noon at Eagles Diamond.
Written by Mark Aguirre, Sports Writer Intern. Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna dot l dot bartlo at biola dot edu
media [dot] relations [at] biola [dot] edu