by Dennis Dalman
Baseball scholarship recipient Riley Hartwig of Sartell has to search for words to explain why he loves baseball so much.
During an interview with the Newsleader, Hartwig paused for a long time.
“Well, I . . . I can’t put it into words,” he said. “I guess it’s just being with people you know and like, it’s about developing bonds, and it’s a team sport but also an individual sport at the same time.“
Hartwig paused again.
“It’s those things,“ he said, “but it‘s something more, and I just can’t find words to describe it.”
His passion for the sport, he concluded, is mysterious, emotional and ultimately indefinable.
Hartwig was recently notified he received a baseball scholarship from the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. Earlier, he had visited the university, where he toured the campus and met with coaches.
“I was thrilled to get that scholarship, but I didn‘t expect it,“ he said. “The college is a good, friendly environment, and I really liked the coaches. I met them and we had a talk over lunch.“
The coaches, obviously, liked him too.
“They’d seen me play in a showcase (game) in Burnsville,” Hartwig said, and that, he thinks, might have led to their scholarship decision.
He will move to the North Dakota university next fall to study sports and leisure management.
Hartwig, 18, now in his third varsity year for the Sartell Sabres, is a third baseman and pitcher for the team. Last year, he hit two homeruns in games against Albany and Sauk Rapids.
As a tot, Hartwig loved to play T-ball and then, naturally, took an early liking to softball and baseball. He played in the Sartell Youth Baseball Association for years, starting in fifth grade as a member of a travel team.
The son of Ann and Steven Hartwig, Riley has two siblings – Blake, 15, a freshman, and Grace, 13, a seventh-grader.
Besides baseball, Hartwig enjoys football, hunting, fishing and just about any outdoor activity.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to play baseball at the college level,“ he said.
That goal, that dream, is about to come true.