Little-Hyped Player Blossoms At Army

The following feature on baseball senior Ben Koenigsfeld appeared in the Times-Herald Record (Middletown, N.Y.) on May 14, 2011, and was written by Sal Interdonato.

Ben Koenigsfeld needed just a few throws from third to first base to impress Army coach Joe Sottolano, scouting at a college showcase before Koenigsfeld's senior year of high school.

The tournament was rained out, but without even seeing Koenigsfeld hit, Sottolano started recruiting the New Port Richey, Fla., native. He followed Koenigsfeld's senior season at Ridgewood (Fla.) closely.

Koenigsfeld dominated, going 10-2 with 0.93 ERA and striking out 111 in 90 innings. Koenigsfeld also hit .495 with seven home runs and 38 RBI.

With those numbers, it's hard to believe Sottolano was the only Division I coach in pursuit of Koenigsfeld. Yet, Army gave Koenigsfeld his only offer.

Little did Sottolano know he had landed one of the best two-way players in Army history.

"I took a chance on him, and it wound up panning out," said Sottolano, whose team hosts Lafayette in a best-of-three Patriot League semifinal Saturday. "Ben will go down as one of the best players to come through the program. I'm sure he will be on our Wall of Fame."

Koenigsfeld's career accomplishments take up three pages in Army's media guide.

He could fill up a fourth page with his 2011 season. Koenigsfeld was named to his fourth Patriot League first team and received the conference's scholar-athlete award for the second straight season.

"Day in and day out, he gives us everything he has," Sottolano said.

"I like people to think when they see me playing they can tell I'm enjoying the game and I'm really liking what I'm doing out there," said Koenigsfeld, who is hitting .305 with six home runs and 34 RBI this season to go with a 3.62 grade-point average.

Koenigsfeld has excelled this season while picking up a new role. After senior closer Kevin McKague went down with a back injury earlier in the season, Sottolano summoned Koenigsfeld, whose 18 wins rank ninth in Academy history, to step in. Koenigsfeld has had six saves in McKague's stead and a 1.74 ERA.

"I like it, but I miss starting," said Koenigsfeld, whose fastball reaches 92 miles per hour. "You have a little more control when you start. But I'm happy to help the team however I can.

"If they want me to start a game, I'll start a game. It's all about the team. We want to keep this season going as long as we can."

Still, Koenigsfeld is once again being overlooked. He only received questionnaires from teams three weeks before the draft.

Koenigsfeld — who is headed to Ft. Benning, Ga., for armor officer training after graduation — has taken it in stride.

"I'm pretty happy about the future I have in the Army," said Koenigsfeld, must serve two years of active duty before he can turn pro. "I'm pretty set with that. If an opportunity arose, I would think about it, but I have accepted the military as being my future, and I'm ready to go."

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