As a left fielder on the California University of Pennsylvania baseball team, Mick Fennell has a .319 batting average and has hit safely in 10 of the past 11 games.
As a pitcher for the Vulcans, Fennell has a 4-2 record with an ERA of 1.41.
Just don't ask him which position he prefers.
"I still don't even know," he said. "I couldn't pick one right now."
Fennell, a graduate of Butler Area High School, is enjoying playing time both on the mound and in the field with the Vulcans a year after playing second base and pitching last year as a senior with the Golden Tornado. And neither role seems to be suffering at this point.
"I knew it was going to be different going from high school to Division II college, but in my head I knew that I could do it," said Fennell, who bats left and throws right. "I knew I had to prove myself in the fall. I had a pretty good fall this year and I just had it in my mind I could do it.
"That's the main reason why I chose Cal because [coach Mike Conte] said he was fine with me playing both positions."
Fennell has logged 381/3 innings on the mound at Cal this season and in his five starts he has three complete games, came within one out of a fourth and three outs of a fifth. His past three starts on the mound have been complete games, including a 3-1 victory against Mercyhurst and 4-1 win against Clarion.
"I usually pitch with three pitches, but this year my splitter and fastball are what I've been getting teams [out] with," he said. "Those are my two main pitches and then I'll mix in a curveball every now and then.
"Against Clarion, I was just running with my fastball and splitter, mixing those two up and keeping them off-balance. It was the same thing against Mercyhurst. Between those two [games] I might have thrown two curveballs. Everything else was just fastball and splitter."
This past Sunday Fennell absorbed his first loss as a starter. He went the distance at Lock Haven, but the Bald Eagles rallied for a run in the bottom of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie and post a 2-1 victory. Fennell allowed just three hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
For the season, he has not allowed more than two runs in any game, has struck out 25, walked six and has not given up a triple or home run. He also recorded a save in his first appearance in a Vulcans uniform, pitching four innings in relief Feb. 25 against Charleston (W.Va.).
"Mick is a very tough competitor," Cal coach Mike Conte said. "He has the ability to throw a very high strike percentage, which always has him working ahead in the count which is tougher on the hitter."
Fennell made the switch from infield to outfield to get more playing time at Cal. After playing second base his junior and senior seasons at Butler, he is now shagging fly balls in left field.
"My coach asked me if I would mind playing the outfield and I told him whatever is going to get me into the game. I'm fine with left field."
At the plate, Fennell is 22 for 69 (.319) with five multiple-hit games and only five strikeouts. He also has stolen 8 of 11 bases.
"He's very fast and an excellent contact hitter," Conte said. "There is precedent at Cal for dual-role players and Mick fits that role very well because of his talents. He has tremendous work ethic and a great passion for the game."
Fennell isn't the only one in his family who has a passion for the game. His brother Ryan is a sophomore pitcher/infielder at La Roche with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 1.72 and his oldest brother, Jason, was drafted in the 45th round by the Chicago White Sox in the mid-1990s.
The Vulcans, 25-10 overall, are tied atop the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division standings with Gannon at 9-3 but face a crucial weekend series against the Golden Knights. The teams play a doubleheader Friday at Cal, then head up Interstate 79 to Erie for a doubleheader Sunday at Gannon.
No matter the outcome this weekend, look for Fennell to make a contribution in as many ways as possible.
"My coach was saying right now it's OK to be playing both positions, but when it comes to my senior year we would have to sit down and talk about which one I would want to pursue at the next level if it comes to that opportunity," he said. "For now I'm just playing both and seeing how it goes throughout my college life."
Rick Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3789.