Brendon Reifsteck knows his baseball, and he knows his bats.
When Reifsteck and Yorkville took their spring break trip last week, they got a taste of baseball history. The Foxes visited the Louisville Slugger Bat Museum and Factory, where bats have been made since 1884, en route to Tennessee.
Reifsteck has an appreciation for that history.
He previously took a trip to the Louisville museum with his family. Born and raised a St. Louis Cardinals fan, Reifsteck intentionally wears the No. 20 of ex-Cardinal great Lou Brock.
“He had the same birthday as me, too,” Reifsteck said. “I loved his speed and his mental ability. He’s one of the greats.”
Reifsteck had a pretty great road trip.
The Yorkville senior went 10-for-16 with three doubles and seven runs batted in. The Foxes (8-0) went 5-0, the last four at the Daily Times Classic in Maryville, Tennessee. Yorkville scored 44 runs over the five games.
For his efforts, Brendon Reifsteck is this week’s Record Athlete of the Week.
“Our whole lineup, one through nine, just hit the ball so hard,” Reifsteck said. “No at bats were wasted.”
Reifsteck is never one to waste an at bat.
The right-handed hitter led the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference in batting average (.467) and on-base percentage (.610) last spring.
That success starts with his approach.
“He is aggressive with fastballs in the strike zone and a grinder with two strikes until he makes sure he can put something in play,” Yorkville coach Scott Luken said. “And he doesn’t just connect, he hits the ball hard. Regardless of what pitchers throw, he has managed to find counts where he can drive the ball.”
Reifsteck seems to speak with disdain about any at bat not ending on his terms.
“I’ve always been taught to be aggressive. You’re not up there to walk, you’re up there to hit,” Reifsteck said. “Walks are freebies. I hate striking out, can’t stand it. If I see first-pitch fastball I’m swinging at it.”
That attitude toward bat and ball runs hot in the Reifsteck family.
His dad played baseball growing up in downstate Lincoln and later in Freeport, his mom softball in Peotone.
It’s a split Cardinals/Cubs household, Reifsteck following his dad’s St. Louis allegiances.
“Last year, Cubs, that was a heartbreaker,” Reifsteck said.
Reifsteck’s parents got him started at a young age playing T-ball. He didn’t need encouragement to work at his craft.
Reifsteck joined the Lincoln-Way Prospects travel baseball program three years ago. Reifsteck goes to the Baseball Institute every Sunday with his younger brother Josh to hit in the cages for an hour or two. When that’s not enough, he’ll do tee work in his garage.
Reifsteck last week committed to play baseball at Wisconsin-Platteville, where he plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
Regardless of what position Reifsteck’s at, Luken likes penciling his name in the lineup every day.
“Brendon exudes a level of confidence that is a good trait, not in any way a cockiness or ego,” Luken said. “He has confidence in his abilities day in and day out. I like the way he carries himself.”
Reifsteck likes the way the Foxes are carrying themselves.
Perfect through two weeks, they remain guarded about getting ahead of themselves. It’s a long season.
“We’ve started off great, better than ever, but we can’t stop working hard,” Reifsteck said. “Coach told us that on the bus ride going home. What we did down there doesn’t mean we can’t stop working. We’ve all talked about it, and we’re getting after it in practice this week.”