By: Alex Matura

Notre Dame’s impressive track of college-bound athletes continues to grow with a strong group of graduating baseball players in the 2020 class. This elite group of athletes contains Connor Markl, Brooks Rocha, Tag Bross, and Griffen Chewning, and all of them will be playing baseball at the collegiate level in 2021.

Rocha said about his earlier experiences in the NDP baseball program, “I really liked playing on JV, sophomore and even junior year.”

“Just hanging out with all of my teammates and the coaches. It’s a great atmosphere and being able to call myself a saint and play for them has just been an honor. I’ve had a lot of help along the way and it has driven me to be the player I am today” said Markl.

One of the core members of the NDP baseball program, head coach Brian Fischer, who has watched the athletes develop in the program, said that one of the most important qualities of these players is that they have “improved in their four years at Notre Dame.” 

These great memories will stay with each player for the rest of their lives and will be carried. While their pasts have been special and filled with great memories, the boys are setting their sights on this season and making their last one the most memorable. 

After a long offseason of hard work, Rocha, a pitcher, said, “I am ready to really display myself in front of the coaches.” 

Markl, speaking collectively about the team’s mindset, said, “Our goal is to get back there [the semifinals] and redeem ourselves but also to get the state ring for the school.” 

Prepared for a thrilling last season, the team will be battling for the pride of their school and for the joy of a championship to send them off to college. While preseason tournament and regular season games started at the end of February, the team has until the end of April to prepare for the state tournament. The team is hoping for a great season and is sure to have a fun time doing it. 

The futures are very bright for these four college commits, who will be off to the colleges of their choice in the fall. There, they will be pushed hard to become the best version of themselves for their new teams. Despite the daunting challenges ahead of the commits, they are excited about the challenge.  

Rocha, who has committed to Arizona Christian University, is ready to improve both his hitting and his pitching at the next level. He said that his reason for choosing ACU is that it “is a really good baseball school.” The ACU Firestorm is an accomplished team, going 39-21 last year with an impressive 21-8 away record. 

Markl, who committed to Grand Canyon University as a left-handed pitcher, spoke about the best aspect of being a college athlete.  He said, “Just knowing that all the hours I put in and the dedication are starting to pay off.” The GCU Lopes baseball program is a rising program that recently became a Division 1 team and has played very well in the last few years. Last year, the Lopes went 36-24 with a great 18-9 record in conference play. They even went all the way to the championship round in the Western Athletic Conference playoffs. 

Bross, an outfielder, committed to the University of Arizona. The U of A Wildcats went 32-24 last year and are looking to continue the good momentum after ending the season on a 10-game winning streak. 

Chewning, an infielder, committed to South Mountain Community College. The SMCC Cougars went an impressive 39-20 last year and had a great 8-2 record against teams on neutral fields. Chewning’s bat should help out the Cougars, who led their conference last year with 21 triples.

As the NDP family says goodbye to these senior ballplayers and leaders and wishes them luck in their next step, they know that they have a tough journey ahead of them, but with patience and hard work, they can continue to elevate their games to become the best they can be.