Player Spotlight: Drew Stankiewicz

Sophomore Drew Stankiewicz, better known as "Stankie" by his teammates, isn't new to the world of baseball. In fact, he was born into it.

His father, Andy Stankiewicz, played seven years in the major leagues. The younger Stankiewicz decided he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps when he was just a young boy. "Just being around the stadium and the atmosphere inspired me to be like him", said the Arizona State sophomore.

Needless to say that having a dad that played in the major leagues benefitted Stankiewicz in the long-run. He has been able to watch what it's like to play in the bigs and what it takes to get there, stay there, and be successful. When asked what the best piece of advice his father gave him, he said, "It's been to follow your dreams no matter how hard it is. He said no matter how hard it is, you can always push through it and do it for God."

When it came time for Stankiewicz to decide which college to attend, he knew it was going to be Arizona State.

"Obviously my dad was a coach here a couple years ago," Stankiewicz explained, "and they were always one of the best teams in the nation. I knew they win. I know it is a big place to grow and build my game up. It inspires me to play the game."

Following the departure of players such as Deven Marrero and Joey DeMichele, Stankiewicz will be one player looked upon to fill those roles. During his freshman season, Stankiewicz appeared in 31 games and started 20, including 16 at third base, two at shortstop, one at second base, and one as a designated hitter.

The 5'10, 185-pound sophomore will have to step up as a power hitter to replace the homerun-hitting Abe Ruiz, who also left after the 2012 season. At the team's Media Day, Head Coach Tim Esmay said Stankiewicz is coming back one year stronger and he believes he can be a strong force this season.

Playing at such a prominent baseball school is a big challenge, but Stankiewicz takes more away from it than just the fundamentals of the game. "The most important thing I've learned playing here at ASU," Stankiewicz commented, "is that the team aspect of it is so big. We're all family."

The sophomore added that the coaches teach the players that it's not one player that's going to carry the team; it's the team as a whole, and that is as aspect Stankiewicz is very comfortable with.

Coming off a one-year NCAA post-season suspension, the pressure to succeed is certainly present in Tempe this year. However, fourteen freshmen on the roster one might say the Sun Devils will have to labor extensively just to prove themselves early on in the season.

ASU has never shied for a challenging schedule, and facing teams such as Tennessee, Arkansas, in addition to loaded group Pac-12 teams, the 2013 slate will provide more than enough grueling tests for the maroon and gold. Nonetheless, this schedule is one that can toughen up the team in a hurry, and help them make their return to post-season play let alone the College World Series in Omaha.

"We are so pumped that we can actually go to playoffs this year," Stankiewicz remarked. "Nothing's going to stop us. We're working extra hard in the weight room, extra hard in practice. We always preach after practice one goal and that's Omaha. That's our goal right now."

Last year's Sun Devil team not only had to sit home during the post-season, but also had to watch their archrival University of Arizona, win the College World Series. Needless to say that this fact is giving Stankiewicz and his teammates extra motivation for 2013. After all, the last team the Wildcats lost to in 2012 was ASU.

"All our games against the U of A are so close and so hardcore because they're our rivals," Stankiewicz stated. "Them winning the World Series was a little salty because we know we can beat them. We want to take that National Championship because we're eligible so we're definitely playing with a chip on our shoulder this year against them."

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