Trio of Mav seniors excited to contribute this season
Mesa State College baseball players Matt Bodenchuk, Bobby Leigh and Corey Todhunter could only sit and watch their team last year.
Bodenchuk couldn’t play because his elbow was healing from Tommy John surgery, but Leigh and Todhunter were redshirting in what could’ve been their last college season.
Leigh and Todhunter made tough decisions, but one that Mesa State coach Chris Hanks admired and appreciated.
“It was mostly a depth issue,” Hanks said. “We look at the depth and other factors, but we never dictate a redshirt on someone. We pose the role to them and the amount of playing time they’re looking at. We tell them it might be a good idea to redshirt.
“They understand how things work. We try to do not only what’s best for the club, but for each player. We’ve had a harder time convincing freshmen to redshirt.”
Leigh and Todhunter realized playing time would be scarce and knew they still had another year of school before they could earn their bachelor’s degrees.
“I was coming back this year anyway for school,” Leigh said. “I figured I might as well play baseball. I talked to coach about it. It worked out for me.
“I didn’t want to come to school and not play baseball. I knew we’d have a strong team this year and I had stuff I could work on.”
Todhunter was planning on playing last season, but designated hitter Matt Miller was on his way to an All-American season and first baseman Curtis Englehart was a fixture.
“I knew I had one more year of school left and that gave me another opportunity to work on my skills,” Todhunter said. “I was really excited to be a part of a team where guys had a year
under their belt playing together.
“I made the ultimate decision to go ahead and redshirt and be a part of the team this year knowing what kind of potential we had.”
They didn’t pout about it. They used the year to get better.
Leigh, who played outfield for the Mavericks in 2007, is playing first base for the first time in his baseball career this season. He played shortstop in high school.
“Hanks worked with me in the offseason at first base,” Leigh said. “They didn’t really recruit any first baseman, so he asked me if I want to play it.
“I’m glad I did it. The lineup is strong. I think it’s worked out for the best.”
Todhunter played summer ball in Maryland and faced good pitching, and Bodenchuk worked more on his mental game while his elbow healed.
All three provide pop at the plate and all three have started at least four games this season.
Leigh was second on the team in home runs in 2007 with 12, but is off to a slow start this season, hitting .125.
Todhunter is hitting .318 with three doubles, two home runs and five RBI.
“Corey and Bobby are long ball threats,” Hanks said. “They should get a lot of at-bats. They should be able to handle success and failure in a more mature fashion. That leads to a more steady level of play.”
Bodenchuk is hitting .478 with four doubles, three home runs and nine RBI. He has a .939 fielding percentage.
“We have the talent and a senior-loaded team,” Bodenchuk said. “The only thing I think about is working to win a national championship.
“Everything fell into place. It was one of those years no one planned, but it happened.”