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From mound to batter's box, Steiner makes contribution
By Andrew Knot

When Peter Steiner began his Calvin baseball career he was not the multi-faceted threat he is today. His first year, Steiner played an extraordinary specialized and valuable role. That season, Steiner, one of two freshmen starters for the Knights, posted an unblemished 8-0 record and a 3.06 earned run average as a pitcher.

“He had an outstanding freshman season as a pitcher,” said Steiner’s coach, John Sparks, who was also in his first year at Calvin.

The 2008 season featured the most talented Knights’ team in recent memory. Finishing with a conference championship, an overall record of 32-10 and a 23-5 mark within conference, the Knights earned Calvin’s only NCAA DIII tournament appearance in the past four years.

Steiner remains grounded when discussing that year and is quick to credit his teammates for the undefeated record.

“It just seemed like everything went my way freshman year. Even on days that I didn’t have my best stuff, the offense would have my back and put up a bunch of runs for me to work with,” he said.

Sparks says that Steiner, along with the rest of his freshmen class, made the transition to Calvin’s baseball program seamlessly.

“It [2008] was my first year. I didn’t do the recruiting, so I didn’t know anything about Peter or the rest of the class,” said Sparks.

Steiner was coming off a knee surgery that sidelined him for all of the fall. That meant his experience with the team would be limited to the spring season. When he stormed through the league as a freshman, Sparks knew he had a talented player on his hands.

“The way he pitched in the clutch his freshman year, you could see his competitive drive and composure under pressure,” he said.

Steiner was responsible for the Knights’ lone victory against Adrian, a perennial league powerhouse. Three seasons later, that moment remains special for Steiner.

His sophomore year, Steiner recorded another winning record at 5-3, but remained without an at-bat. Still, Steiner was confident of his ability to contribute on and off the mound and patiently waited for his chance.

That chance came in his junior campaign. Coach Sparks recognized Steiner’s efforts and started him at first base midway through his junior year. In his first game at the plate, he went 0-2 with a sacrifice bunt.

In less than half a season, Steiner batted .319 for Calvin, knocking 15 hits in 47 at-bats with four RBIs. He paired that with another 5-3 season on the mound. In his senior season, however, Steiner established himself as Calvin’s “most consistent batter,” according to Sparks.

Late in the season, batting .325, Steiner led the Knights with 24 RBIs and 41 hits. In addition to pitching and posting a career-low 2.76 ERA, he played regularly at first base and even broke Calvin’s single-season record for stolen bases with 19 successful swipes on 23 attempts.

That combination made Steiner a versatile option for the Knights. “He made my job tremendously easier. His diversity was essential for our success,” said Sparks.

Both Steiner and his coach note his development into a very diverse threat on the field, as well as a capable leader off it.

“That’s what I’m most proud of. Peter has a very outgoing personality, and he channeled that effectively into being a leader this year,” said Sparks.

Steiner also noted his growth into a much smarter player, and thanked his four fellow seniors, especially Keith Spoelstra, for the friendly competition that helped get him there.

Steiner said he came to Grand Rapids from Chicago looking for a well-rounded education and an opportunity to play the sport he loves.

“Calvin has made me a better overall person and closer to God,” he concluded. “I’ve met a lot of great people at Calvin and would not trade my experience here for anything.”