MELISSA — The athletic portion of Camden Duzenack’s college decision wasn’t near the top of his list. But the right combination of factors will allow the shortstop to compete at the top level of the sport after Duzenack signed his national letter of intent to play baseball for Dallas Baptist on Wednesday afternoon.
He chose the Patriots over Hardin-Simmons, Abilene Christian and Wayland Baptist.
“The Christian aspect of the school appealed to me first,” Duzenack said. “To a certain extent it was the perfect timing. I had always hoped that I could play at the D-I level. Dallas Baptist, no matter what division they were, I’d be going there anyway.”
This past spring Duzenack was the Most Valuable Player in District 12-2A and hit .455 with 56 runs, 15 doubles, eight homers, 34 RBI and 28 stolen bases as the Cardinals went 24-9 and reached the Class 2A Region II quarterfinals for the first time in school history before losing to state semifinalist Brock.
“I use my abilities the best I can regardless of baseball,” Duzenack said. “On the field, in the weight room, in the classroom, I feel my work ethic has carried over into baseball.”
He was a second-team all-state selection as a sophomore, when he hit .564 with 22 doubles, nine home runs and 51 RBI. Duzenack hit .370 with six doubles, five triples, 31 runs and 21 RBI during his freshman season.
“The pressure is going to be there. But there’s nothing more I can do to make Dallas Baptist want me,” Duzenack said. “When I was a freshman there were leaders on the team who helped me out and I hope to be that leader for the freshmen coming in this season.”
Dallas Baptist has been a powerful independent program since joining the Division I ranks in 2005, reaching the NCAA Tournament three times. After playing this season in the Western Athletic Conference, the Patriots join the Missouri Valley Conference for Duzenack’s freshman season.
“It’s been really fun to watch,” he said. “It became apparent to me that I would get to be a part of it.”
Last year Dallas Baptist went 41-19 and received an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. The Patriots won the Fort Worth Regional in 2011, have had six All-Americans as a Division I program and there are 16 former Patriots in the major or minor leagues, including Freddy Sanchez, Ben Zobrist and Lew Ford.
The program is doing all this despite having an enrollment of just 5,622, another fact that appealed to Duzenack.
“I was never looking at a big school,” he said. “I like the community feeling of knowing people and them knowing me. I didn’t want to be swallowed up by the crowd.”