Baseball: Mount Carmel alum Chris Sujka focuses on positives
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media June 19, 2014 10:16PM
Southland Vikings Chris Sujka makes his debut after finishing Junior year with the Indiana University baseball team at Oil City Stadium, Thursday, June 12th, 2014, in Whiting | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 21, 2014 4:03PM
It was far from an easy transition for Indiana University junior Chris Sujka.
A star football and baseball player at Mount Carmel, Sujka played regularly during his freshman and sophomore seasons at Indiana on the baseball team.
That playing time took a hit this season, but Sujka was ready to make a team decision.
“This year was a tough transition, but I realized a role,” Sujka said. “The argument I kept telling myself in my head was, ‘It’s tough to argue with success as long as we’re winning. I’ve got to be happy. I’ve got to be a good teammate.’ ”
Having played 56 games (starting 50) as a freshman and playing in 46 (starting 20) as a sophomore, Sujka’s playing time was limited this season. The junior saw action in 20 games, starting twice.
The success for the Hoosiers definitely was there, and Sujka loved the ride. Indiana won its second consecutive Big Ten Tournament championship, only to see its season come to a shocking conclusion in its own NCAA regional.
The visitors on their home turf at Bart Kaufman Field, the Hoosiers saw Stanford get a walk-off two-run homer to end Indiana’s season.
“Getting walked-off on at home was just a weird feeling,” Sujka said. “We didn’t think the game was over. That was the hardest part for a lot of guys. The game before we’re four outs from winning, and the last game we’re two outs. We’re a combined six outs from going to a (NCAA) super regional.”
For the 5-foot-10 senior, the hard work will continue. The Hoosiers lost a ton of talent to the major league draft, including Cubs pick Kyle Schwarber and Boston Red Sox selection Sam Travis (Providence), but the groundwork has been laid — and Sujka intends to be a part of it.
“We’ve built a transition the past couple of years,” Sujka said. “The winning has been there, and there’s a winning attitude now. That’s what the program, what the school expects, to be winners.”
Sujka said the transition from high school to college was quite an adjustment. Once a star at Mount Carmel, he was surrounded by a team full of stars in Bloomington.
“Every day the competition is better, and not only who you’re playing, but who’s on your team,” Sujka said. “In high school, if you’re good and a leader on the team you’re pretty much in the lineup no matter how you’re feeling that day.”
Coming off a season that saw him get just 16 at-bats, Sujka intends to make the most of his time with the Southland Vikings during the summer season.
“Coming from school where I didn’t play much, didn’t see a lot of live pitching, that’s going to take some time adjusting at the plate, getting into the swing of things,” Sujka said of his playing with the Vikings. “Literally the swing of things. Getting those live at-bats against live pitching, that’s what I’m focused on.”