By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications
Alex Alstott had already gone through two colleges and had little idea of the road ahead. As late as early August of last summer, he continued to seek a home where he could play the sport he loved and that harbored a welcoming atmosphere.
The story of the Fort Dodge, Iowa, native involves several plot twists and turns. His winding path has led him near and far and has tested him with curveballs more challenging than the ones uncorked by GPAC pitchers. His battle has included significant injury, bouts of home sickness and a struggle to find the right place to settle.
“It’s been a long journey,” the Concordia center fielder admitted.
Now Alstott is confident he’s found his home. As the outfield anchor and leadoff man, the long and lean Alstott has glided his way to a program single-season record 12 triples as the most dynamic offensive player for head coach Ryan Dupic’s squad. And in just his first season at Concordia, Alstott has already emerged as a team leader and one of its most respected personalities.
Both with western Iowa roots, Dupic and Alstott immediately meshed in the recruiting process. With connections to coaching staffs at both Fort Dodge High School and Iowa Central Community College (Alstott’s first college stop), Dupic seized an opportunity to bring in someone he knew to be a tremendous athlete. The first-year head coach could not have predicted just how big of a difference Alstott would make out of the gates.
“He’s really found his niche here,” Dupic said. “He’s become a great leader. He always comes to the field with a smile on his face. He expects everyone to play at a high level. More than anything, it’s been great to see his growth as a man.
“When you come to a ball game, he’s the type of player you’re drawn to. He’ll make something happen.”
Alstott struggled to make much happen his first three seasons on a college campus. Following a year of playing sparingly at Iowa Central, he decided he was ready to venture out of his hometown. After emailing coaches around the country, Alstott eventually ended up at NCAA Division II Southern New Hampshire University, a 24-hour car ride from home.
But his baseball career at Southern New Hampshire never got off the ground. An ankle injury and rib fracture kept him out of the 2013 season. In preparation for an increased role as a pitcher the proceeding campaign, Alstott suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament to his throwing arm and had to undergo Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2014 and made the decision to head back home.
“I was in the arm sleeve for two to three months so I needed help with a lot of things,” Alstott said. “I moved back with my mom and I didn’t go back out there (to New Hampshire) because it’s really far from home. I only got to see my mom and dad at Christmas time. That was about it. It was really tough.”
Because of the injuries, Alstott went essentially two-and-a-half years without seeing live game action. He arrived at Concordia this past fall still in the process of making his way back from arm surgery. He came without the promise of stardom – or even the promise of a starting role.
He had to earn it and prove he could stay on the field.
“I can’t say that I expected him to jump out to this kind of success so fast,” Dupic said. “I thought he was a varsity player who would impact the team in some fashion. I knew his skills defensively and his arm strength would play right away. It was going to come down to how well he could hit. He’s worked hard and Coach (Jake) Waddle has done a great job with him, but I can’t say that I saw this type of immediate impact coming.”
Alstott’s been so valuable that Dupic can’t see to put him anywhere other than the No. 1 spot in the lineup where he can get him as many at bats as possible. Alstott has responded with 20 extra base hits and an other worldly 1.138 on-base plus slugging percentage.
As good of a fit as he is at the top of the lineup, Alstott has fit in just as well with the Christian culture fostered by Concordia. Alstott has adjusted well to the social and spiritual aspects of his third college landing spot.
“It’s been a great fit,” Alstott said. “I’ve really connected with God and my faith has gone sky high coming to Concordia. In the fall, when you’re a new guy, it’s kind of hard to get to know everyone. The fall is a little tough but I’ve gotten connected with the team and the people on campus. It’s coming together and I have a lot of people here that I’m friends with now. It’s a great experience.”
Increasingly comfortable with his current surroundings, which now allow him to see his family more frequently, Alstott has torn up GPAC pitching to the tune of an .864 slugging percentage in conference games. It took him only 28 games to break the school record for three-baggers in a season.
“I didn’t find out until after the game that I got the school record and I was the national leader in the NAIA for triples as well,” Alstott said. “I had no idea. My dad and my mom were there to see that too. That was truly amazing. I can’t even explain it. It was awesome.”
Alstott’s arrival in Seward has helped energize a baseball program that got off to a 14-5 start and enjoyed an early 10-game winning streak. He’s a big reason for it. He’s still working on cutting back on the strikeouts, but no one’s complaining about the results, or the trying journey that led him to Concordia.
Says Alstott of his impressive growth, “It’s a process and I’m just sticking to it.”
NOTE: Alstott is listed as junior, though he could potentially play two additional seasons due to redshirt seasons at previous colleges.