Saint Martin’s University baseball coach Kelly Gau believes Austin Feist possesses the ability to take over a series.
Feist entered his final season in Lacey a career .302 hitter and well on his way to 200 lifetime hits in a Saints uniform – a feat that would place him in a select fraternity.
Last year the outfielder broke through, earning first team all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference honors after hitting .320 with a team-leading six home runs and 30 RBI while appearing in all 48 contests. The distinction came following back-to-back honorable mention nods his first two seasons at SMU.
An unusually cold start to the year at the plate, Feist impressively broke out of his slump, going 3 for 4 with a two-run homer during the Saints’ recent 10-0 drubbing of Western Oregon University.
The win over the Wolves was the 11th on the season for Saint Martin’s, matching last year’s seasonal win total, and inching the team closer to posting its first winning season since 2011.
A run-scoring single in the second game on March 31 against Western Oregon, gave Feist his 100th career RBI. He became just the fourth player in program history to break the century mark for runs batted in, joining Chandler Tracy (138 RBI, 2012-15), Adam Siler (118, 2014-17), and Shane Schoeneberg (110, 2005-09).
“The best thing Austin brings to our team is an ability to engage with any type of person in the room,” Gau said. “He is not too big to help out a freshman, and when he leads and performs at a high level, those around him follow suit. We have been at our best the last few years when Austin is performing at a high level. As our roster has improved, he’s been able to help everyone in the room get better as the most seasoned position player on our roster.”
With 20 games remaining, Feist is on pace to set the program record for most games started in a career. The benchmark is currently held by Schoeneberg, who started 185 games between 2005 and 2009. Should Feist not miss a start the rest of the regular season, he will finish with record-setting 189.
“I don’t like to think about those things,” Feist said about school records. “I just try to clear my mind when I go to the box. The confidence that’s been instilled in me by my teammates and my coaching staff just throughout my career here has helped tremendously. When I got here they basically told me, ‘You have this opportunity and you have to produce. We trust in your abilities, you have to trust in your abilities. We have full confidence in you whether you’re up or down.’ I just bought into that from the start. Stick with the process and good things will happen.”
And it certainly has for Feist, who could find himself all over the Saint Martin’s record book by season’s end.
He currently sits fourth in career runs scored with 97, fourth in doubles with 38, fourth in home runs with 13, and sixth in hits with 169 as he looks to join Schoeneberg (222) and Tracy (203) in the 200-career hit club.
“Austin came in to us just like every freshman player, wide eyed and eager,” said Gau, who served as an assistant coach for two years before taking over the helm at SMU in 2017. “It is very hard to be an everyday player young in a collegiate career, but Austin never seemed to back down to a challenge. The game has slowed down for him since then, and when he is able to trust his abilities. He is a tough out and consistent performer.”
In addition to his on-the-field accolades, Feist is also seeking to become a three-time GNAC All-Academic performer this season.
“The success hasn’t always been there, but the constant that’s always been there has been the family aspect of our team,” Feist said. “We’re always been close knit and battle through whatever adversity that’s been handed to us. It’s been a blessing to be here for four years. It’s been a great ride and I’m looking forward to seeing what we do the rest of the season.”
SMU Baseball Closes out Regular Season with Series Against Central and Western Oregon
The Saints’ baseball team will host Central Washington University in a four-game series April 13 and 14 before closing out their regular season home slate with four games against visiting Western Oregon University, May 4-5.
Saturday games in both series will be played at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., while Sunday contests will take place at noon and 3:00 p.m.
The GNAC Tournament will be held May 8-10 in Portland, Oregon.