by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
It’s a good thing for Elk River baseball that Sam Krick’s, father, Steve, is a good ol’ Born in the USA kind of guy when it comes to baseball vs. soccer.
“I played both soccer and baseball in first grade and I really loved soccer,” said Sam, “but, my dad told me, ‘Either move out of my house and play soccer, or stay here and play baseball!”
Sam has stuck with the National Pastime ever since, and this spring capped a stellar career with the best individual season by an Elk in many years, including a .455 average and 14 RBI. The senior rightfielder will play in the state all-star series in Chaska this weekend, the first Elk chosen since 2004.
“Sam is very strong physically and he gets his hits against the best pitchers along with the rest,” said Elk coach Ryan Holmgren. “What really sets him apart is unbelievable hand speed, along with good discipline.”
Hitting the ball hard has always come natural for Krick, who bats left and throws right, but he credits Steve with helping him get the most of his ability.
“When I was really young my dad used to throw me BP and I always jacked the ball off the house or over it,” he said. “The main reason I have become the player I am today was my dad. He taught me everything I know … He crafted my swing.”
He hit .274 (6-for-22) as a sophomore on a 1-21 team, then made all-conference the next two years. He batted .364 (24-for-66) as a junior with six doubles and 15 RBI as the Elks improved to 7-13.
This spring, Krick hit .455 (25-for-55) with four doubles, two homers, 14 RBI and 16 runs as the Elks went 10-12. With 12 walks and seven times hit-by-pitch, he compiled a .579 on-base percentage (setting Elk records for HPB and OBP). He had a 13-game hitting streak, a robust .636 slugging average, and never hit into a double play.
“Nothing changed skills-wise, but I hit the weights extremely hard over the winter,” said the 5-11, 190-pound Krick. “I also worked on staying calm and more patient. Last year, I had two walks all year, swinging at everything.”
In his Elk career, Krick batted .384 (55-for-143) with 32 RBI. With the Legion he hit .364 last summer with two homers. He’s now playing Legion again.
About his seven HPB’s, he said foes pitched him carefully, on the edges. This year, he crowded the plate, open stance, daring them to throw inside. “That’s why I got hit so much.”
The 2012 Elk season was the most fun he’s had “because we became a competitive NWSC team again.” His highlight was the 2-1 opening win over Coon Rapids and its Metro Player of the Year, Logan Shore. He was 2-for-3 with a double and walk against Shore in two games.
Krick also played linebacker in football in ninth and 11th grades but had to give up the sport due to a history of concussions.
He will continue baseball at Upper Iowa on an athletic scholarship.
THE KRICK SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents, Steve and Deb; sister, Jenny, 16 … Sport: baseball … Academics: 2.9 GPA … College plans: Upper Iowa, baseball, major undecided
Favorite stuff — Class: history … TV show: “SportsCenter,” “Family Guy” and “Quick Pitch” (MLB Network) … Movies: “Anchorman,” “Dark Knight” … Food: fresh walleye … Drink: Powerade (red) … Music: rock, rap … Team: Twins … Athletes: Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Stephan Strasburg … Kickback: hunting, fishing … Would like to visit: “Hawaii, to deep-sea fish.”