BOCA RATON — For the first time in years, Jake Miednik is pitching for someone other than himself.
As harsh as that may sound, it’s a point that Florida Atlantic baseball coach John McCormack was clear in making about his senior lefty, who will start on opening night against George Washington on Friday (6:30, FAU Baseball Stadium).
“Jake, for the first three years of his collegiate experience, played because he wanted to get drafted,” McCormack said during FAU’s Media Day on Monday. “And he worried about who was in the stands and he worried about what was going to happen next, as opposed to being in the moment with his team.”
A preseason All-Conference USA pitcher, Miednik (Parkland-Stoneman Douglas) won seven games and posted a 4.88 ERA in 86 2/3 innings. Miednik’s 75 strikeouts were the most on the team and 12th-best in C-USA.
After barely beating out rising junior Kyle Marman for the No. 1 pitching spot, Miednik acknowledged that last year’s transition from Walters State CC (Tenn.) wasn’t easy, in large part because of the expectations he’d placed upon himself.
“I kind of played for myself trying to get drafted and everything,” Miednik said. “But being a senior now and, technically, this could be my last year, a lot of things are different. I want to enjoy it more.”
One of only two pitchers to start double-digit games (joining senior Alex House, who was drafted by the Houston Astros last June), Miednik’s final regular-season start was his best, with the then-junior tossing eight shutout innings against Old Dominion. Miednik described himself as “numb” that day, striking out six just days after returning to the team following his grandfather’s death.
McCormack praised Miednik’s ability to rise to the challenge and his “playing for the love of the game.” With House having graduated, Miednik is the only full-time starting pitcher returning to the rotation. Marman made two starts last season, putting up a 4.50 ERA in 20 games and striking out 31 batters in 28 innings.
“I hope that for his sake, the maturity results in a good year … and for our sake,” McCormack said.
Despite the attitude change, Miednik — who has acknowledged he pitches best when “angry” — said he will continue to feed into his emotions on the mound.
“That’s definitely always been the key for me, just trying to be as angry as possible so I can do what I do best,” Miednik said.