Keeping it loose: Skowronek fills many roles for 11-3 Jimmies
Nolan Skowronek has a lot of responsibilities on the Jimmie baseball team.
He excels at all three.
Through 15 games, the senior majoring in mass communications, is hitting a team-leading .422 for the 11-3 Jimmies.
“I’m not someone who is very uptight,” said the generously listed 5-foot-7 Skowronek. “I like to have a good time. This is a game, you gotta have fun.”
Skowronek said he got his good-natured spirit from his dad, which in part is how he ended up in Jamestown all the way from Gilbert, Ariz.
Skowronek lived in Coon Rapids, Minn., until he was 8 years old. His family then moved to Arizona. But Skowronek’s father, Mike, had played college baseball with the dad of a pair of current Jimmies — Robert and Sam Smith of Coon Rapids. Eventually, Skowronek was looking for a place to play after two years at Gateway Community College and the ties to the Smiths turned into a match for the Jimmies.
“It’s interesting how guys end up where they do sometimes, and it’s certainly a unique story how Nolan ended up here, but we’re lucky to have him,” University of Jamestown head coach Tom Hager said.
Physically, Skowronek isn’t going to jump off the page, but his production can’t be denied. He hit .370 with 24 runs scored and 18 RBI last season and is on track to meet or exceed those numbers this spring.
“He’s not somebody who’s going to wow you at a combine or player showcase, but all you have to do is watch him play and you get it,” Hager said. “He’s fundamentally sound. I think the best way to sum him up is, one, he’s going to help you win games in a lot of ways. And secondly, winning teams have guys like Nolan.”
Skowronek enjoys being a pest, whether that means seeing a lot of pitches as the team’s leadoff hitter or running the bases aggressively.
“I kinda see my job as being a pain in the butt. Whatever it’s going to take to do a job and get us a win, that’s what I want to do,” Skowronek said. “We have a lot of guys that are willing to do that and that’s a big reason we’re successful. It’s all about going out there and finding a way to grind out a win.”
The Jimmies play doubleheaders today at Briar Cliff, Iowa and Saturday at Midland University, Neb., before heading back to Sioux City, Iowa for one game on Sunday against Morningside, weather permitting.
The Jimmies are coming off a 10-1 trip to Arizona, which exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“Last year we went 4-7 (in Arizona) and that wasn’t good enough. Our goal was 9-2, so to beat that was a really good deal,” Skowronek said. “If we can keep doing the things we did on that trip we’ll be in pretty good shape.”
Skowronek says the identity of this season’s team is taking shape.
“We have a lot of guys that have had a lot of success like Spencer Flaten, Mitch Stevens; it’s great to have Rudy Strnad back this year. We definitely have a lot of talent, but there’s also that dirt bag, pest mentality where every game we’re going to go out there and try to grind it out,” Skowronek said. “This program has had a lot of success. We have to keep that going.”
Hager said Skowronek’s importance to the team can’t be oversold.
“He’s a jokester. He likes to talk and keep our players and coaches loose and that’s not easy to do,” Hager said. “But make no mistake about it. The guy’s a really good baseball player too.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org