By Nicholas Salamunovich, The Circuit.
Starting as a freshman is incredibly difficult and challenging. One must showcase their talents every day to continue to impress coaches and teammates. It comes to no surprise that Michael Slaten has been able to do this since he set foot in Atchison, Kansas.
Slaten is a freshman baseball player and Theology major at Benedictine. He is from Nacogdoches, Texas and has become a mainstay at third base and in the heart of the order for the Ravens.
To this point, Slaten is hitting .398, only behind Junior Matthew Jarecki, has driven in a team high 31 runs and leads the Heart of America Athletic Conference with 10 home runs.
“To us, it’s not super surprising because it’s something we see every day,” said head coach Anthony Everman. “He and Matt competing with each other, but also competing with themselves and to continually improve and Michael has done a good job at bringing that execution from practice into the games and he’s definitely got power potential.”
He started playing baseball when he was six-years old. He played T-ball for the city league and has loved the sport ever since he stepped up to home plate.
“It always intrigued me more than any other sport,” Slaten said. “I definitely played other sports before baseball, but as soon as I started baseball, I didn’t want to do anything else.
Growing up, he was very fast and played shortstop, but eventually moved to third base when he got to high school.
“The team already had a pretty good shortstop, but there was a big need in third base, so I slid over to third base and I basically took control of that position,” Slaten said. “It was definitely something I had to get used to, but it was a transfer that I was definitely willing to make, and it’s worked out pretty good so far.”
As a high school baseball player, he played for a High School Homeschool team while attending the Seton Homeschool program. Along with playing against other teams made up of homeschoolers, they also played both public and private schools.
His team would even compete against the reigning state champions of Texas every year.
“We played some very competitive teams, and every year we would finish with the Homeschool World Series in Florida,” Slaten said. “We were usually a very good contending team in that tournament.”
When it came to playing on a homeschool team versus playing on a public or private team, there is definitely a different feel.
“There is definitely a different feel, a different atmosphere,” Slaten said. “It definitely took some getting used to, but I feel like I’ve been able to adapt pretty well.”
After high school, that’s when Slaten decided to attend Benedictine College and play baseball for the Ravens. When looking for a college, he wanted a college that had not only a good baseball program, but an authentic Catholic identity.
“My parents definitely worked hard to look for a good, catholic college with still a very good baseball program,” Slaten said. “I came here, met with the coach and met President Minnis. I decided that this is where I wanted to come and play baseball.”
When giving credit to those who have helped him through his baseball career, his parents are the people he gives the most too.
“My dad would coach me most years from the start of my current baseball and definitely my mom has been extremely generous and very supportive of my pursuit of this sport,” Slaten said. “They both have been key to the kind of baseball player and person I am today.”
Coach Everman even mentioned how Slaten got in contact with the college for similar reasons.
“He was very interested in the mission of the college,” Everman said. “He was very impressed by some of the public ratings and reviews by different Catholic organizations about what our mission of the school is along with the academic reputation of our school.”
He has also been inspired by a few players that are part of the professional baseball league.
“Adrian Beltre on the Texas Rangers, I like him a lot, he plays third base and is a power hitter,” Slaten said. “Other third baseman like Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado, a lot of these big hitting third basemen’s who are also really good fielders.”
He looks up to them especially for their style of the game and how they have developed into great players.
So far while being at Benedictine, it has been a big transition for him from high school to college.
“It wasn’t like I started off well, it was a struggle, but as the fall went on, there was a lot of encouragement, help from coaches and I got a lot of opportunity,” Slaten said. “I was able to carry that success over into the season. I’ve been hitting with a lot of power, but there’s just still a lot of work to be done.”
Through his first year suiting up as a Raven, Slaten has received a lot of help from Everman to become a better player.
“It was just a lot of work, one-on-one with Coach Everman and he was patient with me,” Slaten said. “It came on slow but, it eventually came along.”
The head coach also had nothing but good thoughts on the freshman third baseman.
“His work ethic is very strong,” Everman said. “He’s really focused on trying to get better every day and he’s set big goals for himself and he’s working hard every day in order to achieve them. I think that’s why he’s having success on game day.”
He not only credits Everman for the player he has become while at college, but has also been influenced and helped by Jarecki and senior Rocky DeSantis.
“They both have been patient with the things that I didn’t know that may have even been annoying to them and they really have taken me under their wing,” Slaten said. “They’ve really helped me to make the transition from high school to college and they have been very encouraging and I do credit them for how quickly I have been able to have success at the college level.”
Slaten also has some advice for those who will become future baseball players at Benedictine.
“Never be satisfied,” Slaten said. “It’s okay to be happy with the way things are going, but never, ever be satisfied with performance, no matter how things are going, or just how good you are. Never stop trying to improve and just finding out how good you actually can be.”
Slaten, who was named Heart of America Athletic Conference player of the week will look to continue his success in future games.