In baseball, consistency is key for players to establish success. In life, sometimes consistency is difficult to achieve because a 12-6 curveball is thrown your way. When that happens, you have to learn how to adjust – choke up on the bat, move up in the box or show some patience.
Mikey Riesner has mastered this not only on the field – ranked second on the Hofstra Pride baseball team in hitting – but off the field as a student, teammate and friend. The shortstop for the Pride has had to adjust to quite a few curveballs in his life and not just at the plate. Consistency on the field was never an issue for Riesner. He was always considered a defensive asset and clutch hitter, which piqued head coach John Russo’s interest during the recruitment process. Off the field, however, that’s another story.
Riesner was born in Westchester, New York. When he was 2-years-old, he moved to Illinois. After spending many years there, his family moved southeast to Tennessee for a year. They returned to Illinois, and were there until recently, when he and his family picked up and settled in South Florida.
He has lived in several different states and played baseball, soccer and football in many cities, yet he doesn’t have one complaint. That’s just the type of person Riesner is: all business with a smile on his face.
“It’s been like this forever,” the 21-year-old said. “I just think it’s a tough process. You’re making teammates over and over again. You grow so close with some of these guys, but every place I’ve been, they always welcome me.”
On Riesner’s college tour, baseball stops at Bradley University and College of San Mateo were made. He has had his share of success, making NCAA regionals in 2015, and some misfortune – an injury shortened his season in 2016.
That is baseball. There will be ups and downs, but only the strong players manage to find that consistency.
“No kid ever wants to transfer,” Riesner admitted. “Honestly, I had a great baseball experience at Bradley. I was treated really well and it was a tough decision leaving. At San Mateo, I didn’t know what to think going into junior college but I had such a positive experience there [as well].”
At some point it is not the experience that makes the person, it is the person that makes the experience worthwhile.
“I made friends I talk to every single day,” Riesner said. “Now being here, it feels like home because I have aunts and uncles around here – which is nice – and the guys treat me really well.”
Riesner has finally found a home at Hofstra. After moving around the country with his family, he now has the chance to focus solely on baseball and his academics.
“Baseball would be a dream to play forever, but the chances of that are tough. I take school pretty seriously,” Riesner said.
Hofstra’s shortstop has an unparalleled work ethic. According to his coach, Riesner fields more groundballs than anyone in practice and is always in the batting cage looking for more repetitions. He takes pride in his defense and wears his heart on his sleeve on and off the field.
If an error is made, he picks himself up and reminds himself to find that consistency.
“It’s frustrating but you have to have a short memory,” Riesner said. “Coach Russo gives me a pat on the back and says he believes in me so I think that always helps getting that from the coach.”
You can’t get too high or too low in baseball, it is a mental game. It is extremely important to stay levelheaded.
“Honestly, if I am 0-for-4 or 0-for-5 I want another at-bat. If you don’t, you’re playing the wrong sport,” Riesner said.
That is exactly what Riesner did in Hofstra’s first conference matchup of the season against the College of Charleston. After committing an error in the bottom of the fourth inning to allow the Cougars to tie the game at one, Riesner stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth.
With Nick Bottari and David Leiderman at first and second base, Riesner sought redemption, lacing an opposite field single to the right side to score Leiderman, giving the Pride the lead and the eventual win.
He showed toughness, moxie and consistency in the clutch.
“This is his first time he’s dealing with the daily grind of the mental aspect of baseball,” Russo said. “We have confidence in him.”
Despite the team struggling this year to string together wins, Riesner remains confident.
“I still feel like I’ll never give up on these guys. I know nobody on this field will give up on anybody,” Riesner said. “I never step on this field and think we’re going to get beat. I don’t feel like anybody thinks they’re better than anyone here. It is always good to have chemistry like that.”
Hofstra is riddled with strong character players in the dugout and Riesner is one of them. He is a team-first, friend-first and family-first guy. That is all the consistency he needs. No curveball will surprise Riesner here.