Janish returns to baseball team after year of focusing on school

Athletes may spend years perfecting their technique, but for Tyler Janish, baseball came inherently.

“I had two older sisters growing up that were both very involved with sports, so right from the womb, I was introduced to them,” Janish said. “In fact, my first word was ‘ball.’”

Janish is now a senior on Oakland’s baseball team. Starting at shortstop, boasting a .231 batting average and hitting in the leadoff position, he has become a key player for the Golden Grizzlies. However, this wasn’t always the case, as he was not a member of the team last year.

Janish decided to leave the Oakland baseball team and focus on school at the start of his junior year. The decision didn’t come easily for him, as he’d played baseball his entire life.

“At the time, I was losing my love for the game and decided that I wanted to focus my time and efforts on my education,” Janish said.

School has always been an important focus for Janish. Studying prephysical therapy, he boasts a 3.95 GPA. He has been accepted into Oakland’s physical therapy school and will begin the program in the fall.

“After taking the year off, however, I missed the competing and grind with the guys much more than I expected and wanted to come back here and finish what I started,” he said.

After the 2016 season, Oakland baseball made some coaching changes, promoting Jacke Healey to co-head coach. Having served as the team’s assistant coach for three years, Healey knew Janish well. Janish sent Healey a congratulatory text on the promotion, and Healey responded, asking if Janish had any interest in rejoining the team.

Before leaving the team, Janish spent most of his playing time at second base. This year, Janish finds himself at either second base or shortstop.

“Growing up, I was a shortstop, and I’ve always considered myself a middle infielder, so whether it’s short or second I’m comfortable with both,” Janish said. “I’ve always considered myself more of a defensive player than offensive.”

Currently 1-13 in the season, Oakland baseball is striving to improve its presence on the field.

“It’s just a matter of executing when it comes down to having runners on base,” Janish said. “We definitely have the talent to compete at a very high level. We’re getting ourselves in positions where we can score a lot runs and really put it to some teams.”

Oakland’s coaching staff has been integral in the improvement process.

“One of their main themes throughout the year has been trying to let us play our game,” Janish said. “[They] emphasized the fact that we are all here for a reason, and there shouldn’t be any fear on the field. It’s a matter of going out, playing loose and relaxed, and leaving it all on the field.”

For Janish, keeping a level head during a competition is everything, especially since there are some pretty tough teams in the preseason schedule.

“To be completely honest, it’s just another game of baseball to me,” he said. “It’s easy to get psyched out when you play big teams, but at the end of the day, you realize that these guys put their cleats on the same way as you. They’re college athletes just like you.”

Oakland heads to Indiana State for a three-game series against the Sycamores March 17-19.