LIMA - As the University of Northwestern Ohio baseball team heads into the summer after its second season, the Racers are growing in many ways. One which may not be immediately noticeable is the coaching staff's refinement of what type of athlete they recruit.
The Racers added another outstanding young talent when they signed Randal Muhlenkamp of Coldwater High School. According to UNOH coach Kory Hartman, Muhlenkamp fits the new model of recruits for the Racers.
"When you're at the helm you try to make corrections and adjustments in your recruiting efforts. Not that we have bad kids in the program, I think they do great things on and off the field, but as you continue to build your program you learn what type of player fits your program," Hartman said.
"For us as a staff when we sat down and talked, it's more of a well-rounded student-athlete, and that's something which reflects with Randal. The way he talks to adults, the respect he gives authority, the way he plays the game, all those things fit the mold we're looking for in 2013 and beyond."
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Muhlenkamp was a three-year varsity starter at perennial power Coldwater. The Cavaliers won over 60 games during those three years, appearing the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III district and regional tournaments.
The Cavaliers played in the Division III district final game last month at Racers Field. That wasn't the first time the coaching staff met Muhlenkamp; he attended one of the Racers' prospect camps, where he impressed the coaches. Having him play in the district tournament on their field was perfect timing.
From his short stop position, Muhlenkamp was named first-team All-Midwest Athletic Conference and honorable mention All-Ohio as a senior. He batted .464 with 45 hits, 15 doubles, seven triples, 25 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
"He's an athletic kid," Hartman said. "He can play both spots in the middle and I can see him playing third (base). The way that he moved to the ball and his approach at the plate were very fluid. There's a lot of athleticism in there, and that's something that made him attractive to us."
Muhlenkamp chose the Racers over other schools, including Huntington, Ind., University and Sinclair Community College. As Hartman called Muhlenkamp the full package, the player's decision to come to Northwestern Ohio similarly came down to the full package the baseball team and University offered.
"Just look at the field, it's awesome. To play on that every day is going to be awesome," Muhlenkamp said. "Schooling-wise, everything is there for you. The distance (from home), that made a huge difference. They have everything here that I need and I could ask for. And it's a coaching staff that wants to win and expects to win."
The signing of Muhlenkamp continues the UNOH tradition of finding talent close to home; Coldwater is around 45 miles from the UNOH campus.