The KROX Radio Athlete of the Week is University of Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagle Baseball player, Reed Hjelle, a 6’3, 225-pound senior first baseman, from East Grand Forks.
Coming off of a career year, Hjelle went a combined 6-19 in five games last week, while driving out five home runs, including three in one game against Concordia-St. Paul on March 25. Hjelle also provided 5 RBIs and reached base five times via walks last week. Hjelle is batting .333 on the season with six home runs, 21 RBIs, and 23 walks through 22 games. Hjelle currently leads the NSIC with six home runs and sits third in the conference with a .688 slugging percentage. Hjelle has helped the Golden Eagles get off to a strong start in conference play with UMC currently sitting third in the NSIC at 7-1 against conference opponents trailing only St. Cloud State (8-1) and defending national champion Augustana (8-0). “First and foremost, it’s his work ethic,” said UMC head coach Steve Gust explaining his start players success. “There is nobody that works harder than Reed Hjelle and he’s done that four straight years and he hasn’t taken any kind of break, he hasn’t slacked off in any way, shape, or form. Work ethic will get you a long way and he continues to work hard for us. The other key this year has been his discipline at the plate. A lot of teams aren’t pitching him, are not attacking him. They’re trying to work around him and he’s laying off those pitches and staying disciplined. That’s the key for him.”
This year’s success is no surprise as Hjelle garnered NSIC Player of the Year honors last season while starting all 51 games, hitting .436 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, 5 triples, 19 doubles, and 38 runs scored. In addition to earning conference player of the year recognition, Hjelle was named to the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) All-Central Region First Team, the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-Central Region First Team, the ABCA/Rawlings Central Region Position Player of the Year and the NCBWA All-America Third Team and ABCA/Rawlings All-America Third Team.
As a sophomore Hjelle’s defense earned him an NSIC Gold Glove for his play at first base to go along with his team-leading .339 batting average while driving in 26 runs and scoring 32 of his own.
As a freshman, Reed led the team in average his freshman season of 2016 hitting .387 while also belting 7 home runs and 38 RBIs.
Prior to joining the Golden Eagles, Hjelle played at East Grand Forks High School. As a junior with the Green Wave, Hjelle was an All-Section 8AA honoree and was a three-year letter winner in baseball while also lettering in football and hockey for East Side. Hjelle also played for East Grand Forks American Legion Post 157 and was named to the 2013 VFW Baseball District 9 All-Tournament team as well. Off the diamond, Hjelle was a member of the two-time Minnesota Class A State Championship hockey team at East Grand Forks High School.
First started playing baseball –Five years old
What do you feel is the strongest part of your game – Hitting
Part of your game that needs work – Fielding
Toughest pitcher you’ve ever faced – Pitchers faced in the Northwoods League this past summer
Favorite Field –Thomas B. Southard Stadium, home of Saint Leo University baseball in Saint Leo, Florida
Do you have a pre-game ritual –Getting a good stretch in
Favorite sport – Baseball
Favorite sports team – Minnesota Twins
Favorite athlete – Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres
Last movie you’ve seen – Wedding Crashers
Favorite TV program – Supernatural
Favorite food – Steak
What music are you listening to – Country music
You’re stranded on a deserted island and you can have ANY three people with you – Ben Thoma, Mason Ruhlman, Nate Albrecht
Plans after graduation – Attend graduate school focusing on exercise science and wellness in the Twin Cities
Dad – Garrett, firefighter in Grand Forks
Mom- Kelly, Insurance Agent at Thompson Insurance
Brothers – Jacob (18), student at East Grand Forks, will be playing baseball at UMC next year
Sisters – Taylor Guthrie (26), nurse in Fargo