BOZEMAN — It’s been a few years since Bennett Hostetler was playing baseball in Bozeman, but 2021 has been quite the year for the North Dakota State baseball player, as he’s been amassing a lot of accolades.
“NDSU is the only team that offered me a scholarship," said Hostetler. "Just being able to prove that I could play Division I baseball, prove to myself that I could and prove to everybody else that was like 'he’s from Montana, Montana baseball is not that great' -- just for me personally it’s really rewarding and hopefully there’s kids all-around Montana that love baseball enough and want to work hard at it. Hopefully I can show them they can do whatever they want."
Hostetler is now in his fifth year as a Bison and he’s boasting career bests in almost every hitting category, but the season is not even close to over yet. His stats pop off the page. Through 47 games, he has a batting average of .387, .601 slugging percentage and a .514 on base percentage.
“I’m playing well and I’m getting things done on the field that I want to get done," he said. "It’s been really fun so far.”
The Bozeman native attributes his success to having better discipline as a hitter.
“I’ve become a more selective hitter at the plate," Hostetler said. "Just because I have the ability to hit certain pitches pretty much anywhere in the strike zone, doesn’t necessarily mean I should swing at them. I think that’s one thing that I’ve kind of learned and gotten better at this year. I’m okay with taking strikes early in the count if it’s not the exact pitch that I want to hit. Just this year for me, I think being okay with having some strikes on me while I’m hitting and seeing more more pitches per at bat has served me well.”
Last week Hostetler became the sixth person in NDSU history to reach 200 hits.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know," Hostetler said, as he wasn't aware he had reached the feat. "Coach texted me and all of (the coaches) after the game texted me and said 'hey congrats.' A few of the guys that were on the 200 hit club list texted me after the game and were like 'hey congrats.' Cool group to be a part of.”
He didn’t just reach 200 hits last week, he earned his fourth Summit League baseball player of the week honor this season. Last week he had a .611 batting average, one home run, five RBI and six runs scored.
“It’s always great when other people acknowledge your hard work and your accomplishments," said Hostetler. "It’s really cool for them to do that and then another good thing is we won the series last week. We won three of four games against Omaha.”
Wait, there’s more. Also last week, the Bozeman native was named Male Athlete of the Year in the NDSU Sixth Annual Green and Gold Gala.
“When my name got announced, everybody -- all the baseball players in the stands kind of went crazy," said the NDSU star infielder. "It was really cool for me just to have their support with that and then to win it was such a great honor because all the other nominees were more than deserving, so that was really special for me.”
The Bison have a few games left in the regular season and Hostetler is ready for one last run with his teammates, but with his college career winding down, he hopes to hear his name called in the 2021 MLB Draft this July. The fifth-year senior already has a degree in sports management and is just a few credits away from earning his degree in business administration. If playing professionally doesn't work out, he would like to work his way up in the front office of a pro team.
“That’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid, is to play professional baseball," said Hostetler. "Whether I get drafted or not, I’m hopeful that I will, but it’s not something that I’m going to stress about because I can control it.”
The Bison infielder appreciates all the support he still receives from the Bozeman community, and he wanted to shout out two very important people.
“I just want to say hi mom and dad, I love you guys," said Hostetler.