Owls outfielder signs to continue career at Franklin


At 12 years old, Michael Knecht knew he wanted to play college baseball.

In his middle school years, Knecht would talk to his friends Alan Perry and Tiller Cummings about one day playing at the collegiate level.

On Tuesday, surrounded by his family, friends and coaches, Knecht, of Seymour High School, made that dream come true by signing his letter of intent to play with Franklin College.

Knecht knew that Franklin was an option as soon as he stepped foot on campus.

“I was looking at schools close to the Seymour area,” Knecht said. “I went to Franklin on a campus visit and fell in love with the campus. I fell in love with it, and started sending videos to the Franklin coaches. That’s how it fell into place.”

Knecht, six-foot-two, plays in the outfield for the Owls and will likely take on a similar role with the Grizzlies.

“Talking to them, they see me as a college outfielder,” Knecht said. “Also, with my size, they’ve talked about putting me at first base. That would be something new to me, I haven’t played there since little league.”

The Grizzlies, coached by Lance Marshall, finished 21-17 during the 2017 season. Franklin plays in the NCAA Division III Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, which features 10 teams.

Marshall, who has coached since 1997, has guided the Grizzlies to three HHC regular season championships, plus a conference tournament title and subsequent berth in the NCAA Division III Championship tournament, per Franklin’s athletic website. Under Marshall, the Grizzlies have more than 400 victories.

Knecht credited the Seymour baseball staff with his development as a player of recent years.

“The high school coaches have really helped me out with fielding,” Knecht said.

“The drills that we do every day, focusing on the most important things about fielding, have really helped me. Also, the pitching. This year we need arms, and they have helped me every time I’ve asked for help.”

Seymour head coach Jeremy Richey said that Franklin is getting a fantastic student-athlete.

“Michael has always been a great kid that does things the right way,” Richey said. “Going into his senior year, he has taken it to another level. In our off season stuff, with the limitations we have as coaches, he has become the leader of the group. We have 25-30 kids over there, and Michael is the guy getting things organized. He has done a tremendous job, and those are the best qualities he’s bringing to Franklin.”

Richey said he believes that Knecht could get opportunities to play in games with the Grizzlies starting his freshman year.

“I think he’s going to go up there and compete to play,” Knecht said. “He’s a big, athletic kid that will play in the outfield and he can swing it. He will make Franklin College better. Even if he’s not playing right away, the way he works in practice every day will push the guys who are playing. He’s gong to benefit them whether he’s on the field or not. He’s going to make that program better.”

Richey said that Knecht has improved his game in all facets over his time at Seymour.

“He really swings the bat well,” he said. “He’s a different kid physically this year. He’s gotten taller and thicker. The ball is jumping more off the bat. He’s getting better and better defensively, also. We thought about moving him into the infield this year, but he’s just such a valuable outfield that we want to have him run around and make plays for us. He’s improved in every level of baseball.”

For Knecht, baseball has always been a family affair.

“It runs in my family, the Knecht side,” Knecht said. “We love watching baseball, the Reds and Cardinals, any major league baseball team. I have a cousin who played in the majors. It’s really big in my family, and my dad passed it on to me. It’s really important to me.”

Before venturing up I-65 to college, Knecht looks forward to a solid final season with the Owls.

“Right now, it’s about going in and getting a connection with every guy,” Knecht said. “Every guy has a different swing and way to throw the baseball. I’m’ focusing on making that connection with everyone. We’re focused on winning some games. This year, I’m really confident with how everyone is connecting.”

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