Here is a Q&A with recent Highland graduate Ben Klafczynski, the Beacon Journal Baseball Player of the Year:
Favorite athlete: Tie between Tiger Woods and Manny Ramirez.
Favorite TV show: Spongebob Squarepants.
Favorite movie: Anything with Will Ferrell.
Hobbies: Golf, water sports, basketball, and drums.
Family members: Parents Ray and Elaine, sisters Amy and Leah and brother Andrew.
Q: Ben, you obviously had a great individual season and the team had a lot of success as well. How do you feel about helping Highland win its first district championship and reach its first regional final during your senior year?
A: It is a great feeling knowing we were the first team in Highland history to get that far. There were a lot of great memories, and I hope we left a good legacy for Highland baseball.
Q: What is your best memory from the 2007 season?
A: The regional semifinal win (11-10 over Defiance) to get to the regional finals. It was a crazy game to say the least, and my teammates all stepped it up. Most of us played together in youth ball, and I am proud of them. We will share that moment together.
Q: There were high expectations for you entering the season. Do you feel it’s fair to say that you exceeded those expectations?
A: Yes, I think so. I was not thinking about the expectations this season though, I just tried to do whatever I could to help win games.
Q: Do you think Highland exceeded expectations?
A: Definitely, we had a team goal this year to win district and it was great to be able to get to regionals for the first time in school history.
A: How do you feel about being named a Louisville Slugger All-American?
Q: It’s a great honor, and it is nice to see that my hard work paid off. I played with and against many of the guys listed, and I am happy to be included again.
Q: What part of your game did you improve the most during the 2007 season?
A: Being more consistent. Making hitting adjustments in the winter surely helped, and the basketball season helped rehab my wrist injury.
Q: What part of your game do you feel you need to work on to continue to succeed at the next level?
A: Becoming a better baseball player overall, and the instruction I will get at Kent State will surely help.
Q: Why did you choose to continue your academic and baseball career at Kent State University?
A: Everything seemed to be a good fit at Kent. It is a great school, the coaches are great and it is close to home. I can’t wait to be part of their program.
Q: You got a lot of interest from Major League Baseball scouts but you weren’t drafted. What do you think you learned from the scouting experience and are you motivated to become an even better player because you weren’t drafted?
A: I learned more how the draft process works, and I am always motivated to get better because baseball is fun. It’s the greatest game there is, and I know what I need to do to get better to have a shot at a pro baseball career later on. It would have been nice to have been selected, but the overall college experience at age 18, including college baseball, has a great value to it, and I guess I sent that message pretty clearly to the teams that were interested in me going pro right away. If the clubs felt I was ready enough for them to make an investment in me, they would have selected me. I am excited to get to Kent State and getting started on my education and becoming a Golden Flash. I have met some of the other 2007 players coming in, and the guys there now are super-talented.