Jake Madsen doesn’t get shaken up by nerves easily.
But when he stepped to the plate in his first two at bats, the senior first baseman says he’s never been more nervous.
Those nerves melted away as soon as he shot the ball back through the middle into centerfield to give him his 270th career hit as a Bobcat, moving past Ben Crabtree’s hit count and making Madsen the new all-time career hits leader at Ohio.
“I’m glad I finally got it out of the way so we can just stick to winning now,” Madsen said. “I told a few guys in the dugout that I’d never been that nervous at a baseball game, so it felt good to just get that off my chest.”
The hit came to lead off the fourth inning of Ohio’s 5-3 sweep-clinching win over Akron on Sunday, which moved the Bobcats into first place in the Mid-American Conference East division.
Madsen is hitting .353 this season for the Bobcats, with one home run, 13 doubles and 33 runs batted in. He’s also amassed a .410 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. His numbers this season are the best of his already impressive career, in which his stat lines have stood out easily on teams that struggled mightily to produce offense.
Madsen began his career by hitting .344 as a freshman, before falling back to .326 and .322 averages in his next two seasons. Even as the team as a whole struggled through two of its worst seasons in program history, Madsen’s spark in the lineup was still an easy-to-identify landmark on the team for both fans and opposing teams.
The hits record is a mark of consistency for Madsen, and its not the only number that shows that. Madsen is already the record holder for career at bats at Ohio with 808 and counting, far surpassing Crabtree’s old mark of 770. Madsen is also just eleven games shy of the career games played record at Ohio.
And that’s not where Madsen’s place in the Ohio record books ends. Madsen’s 52 career doubles currently tie him with current Salt Lake Bee Marc Krauss for sixth all time at Ohio, while just two more would move him into third place. Ryan Kyes holds the record at 67.
Madsen is also 19 total bases away from cracking Ohio’s top ten list.
While Madsen’s success this season is nothing new for Ohio, the success of the entire team is a different story. Its 26-15 record already shows a win total greater than its past two seasons combined, and its 255 runs scored are already more than its scored in any season since 2012.
Madsen says the success of the team as a whole this season has made his personal accomplishments seem more meaningful.
“We’re winning, so all my at bats mean something when I come to the plate,” Madsen said. “I’m just having a lot of fun this year... I really wish I had another year.”
With ten games remaining on Ohio’s regular season schedule, Madsen will have plenty of chances to pad his records as well as chase new ones. But thanks to a current four-game win streak and a spot at the top of the MAC East, Madsen has bigger things to worry about.
“I’m just worried about helping my team win right now,” Madsen said. “I really want to make a run at the MAC, and that’s all that’s on my mind right now."