BY STEVE KRAH
It wasn’t that long ago that Brad Stoltzfus was leading off and playing on the right side of the infield for the Goshen (Ind.) College baseball program.
The righty swinger from Souderton, Pa. (northwest of Philadelphia), appeared in 199 games for the Maple Leafs from 2015-18. After getting his broadcasting degree, Stoltzfus took a job in town (he’s a shift leader at Goshen Brewing Company) and became a volunteer assistant on head coach Alex Childers’ staff. Justin Grubbs is Goshen’s pitching coach. Michael Walker is the other assistant.
As the Maple Leafs get ready for 2023, Stoltzfus is now in a paid position and is guiding hitters and infielders.
Stoltzfus wants his hitters to know their strengths and weaknesses.
“Know where you can get beat and know the situation and what you’re trying to accomplish at the plate,” says Stoltzfus. “We want you to be good at situational hitting.”
It always pays to be selective and not swing at every pitch that comes a hitter’s way.
“We have good pitchers in (the NAIA Crossroads League) but we also have pitchers that’ll walk you if you let them,” says Stoltzfus. “We want some guys to be a bit more aggressive because they can hit it in the gap.
“Clinton Stroble was one of the best hitters to go through this program
I played with him for three years. He and I had very different approaches because he could put one 400 feet away and I couldn’t.”
Stoltzfus worked to get on-base so Strobel could knock him in.
A student of big league players, Stoltzfus likes the way Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman plays the game.
As a hitting coach, Stoltzfus talks about recognizing pitch shapes.
“(Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander) Clayton Kershaw is a good example,” says Stoltzfus. “You see a fastball out of his hand and it’s slightly down. Whereas, his curveball is slightly up. If you can see it out of the hand forget the spin.
“If you can recognize (shape) right away you know what pitch is coming now and it’s all timing. Timing is a big thing. It’s getting your load and timing down and reacting to the pitch. Put a good swing on the pitch you want.”
As a GC player, Stoltzfus was a second baseman as a freshman and sophomore and a first baseman as a junior and senior.
As an infield coach, he stresses the ready position and knowing what to do with the baseball when it is hit to them.
“I’d like to think I had a very good Baseball I.Q. and was a very good defensive player,” says Stoltzfus. “I would always figure out ways to gain an advantage on my opponent on the mental side of things.”
From a teacher at Souderton Area High School. Stoltzfus learned how to visualize success and avoid negative self talk in favor of positive.
If you see yourself striking out with the bases loaded or making a crucial error that can lead to it happening. Replace that with getting the key hit or making the right play.
The Maple Leafs open the 2023 season Feb. 4-5 with doubleheaders at Union College in Barbourville, Ky.
Goshen opens Crossroads League play March 2 at Marian. The first home date is March 4 against Marian.
While getting ready, Friday practices will be dedicated to individual player skill development. Sometimes technology like HitTrax or Rapsodo is used to mark progress.
“We break down what we think they can do better,” says Stoltzfus. “I try to put myself in their shoes because I know I was in their spot once before.
“We’re just trying to go out and get better each day and progress as coaches and players.”
Stoltzfus, who graduated in 2018, is grateful for his Goshen education and his experiences at the campus radio station — 91.1 The Globe (WGCS-FM). “Uncle” Duane Stoltzfus is a Professor of Communication.
“My parents (Barry and Ingrid) gave me the option to explore and go wherever,” says Brad, got a diploma at GC following his father (business), mother (nursing) and older brother Drew (music) while sister Leah was Brad’s biggest fan. “Ultimately I landed here. I really appreciate the degree I got here because there’s so many things take from what I did in a radio setting and apply that to everyday life and my job (including customer service).
“(Assistant Professor of Communication and The Globe advisor) Jason Samuel was an awesome mentor.”
Both from the Philly area, Stoltzfus and Samuel have had many discussions about City of Brotherly Love sports teams.
Barry Stoltzfus, who went to South Bend (Ind.) Riley High School, was at Wrigley Field in Chicago the day that Mike Schmidt belted four home runs (April 17, 1976) in an 18-16 win for the Philadelphia Phillies over the Cubs.
Brad grew up wearing No. 11 on the diamond. When he was making the transition to the bigger field he landed on a team with a player already donning that digit. Consulting with his dad, he decided on No. 20 (Schmidt’s number) and wore that through high school. Stoltzfus sported No. 44 as a Goshen player.
On May 25, 2011, Brad and three friends were in Philadelphia to see the Phillies play the Cincinnati Reds. The game went 19 innings and the foursome stayed for the whole thing, even gathering three baseball including a home run ball by Cincinnati’s Jay Bruce.