STORY: 2018 SS Michael Bernhardt

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Texas Writer

HURST, TX - At 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, Michael Bernhardt has had to overcome size to reach goals.

But as National League MVP Jose Altuve - at 5-6 and 165 pounds - has proven, size doesn’t matter in the sport of baseball.

Bernhardt is hoping to find a college that believes the same thing.

The L.D. Bell High School senior has talked with numerous colleges over the years. Bernhardt visited Air Force in the summer, Oklahoma Christian less than a month ago and has a visit planned to Hendrix College in Arkansas, but a future home remains uncertain.

“I’m just trying to find a place to play in college the next two to four years, depending on where I go,” Bernhardt said. “Football in the fall held me back some and some minor injuries set me back a little bit, too. It’s been stressful, I just try to keep the faith and hope it all works out.”

There is plenty the right-handed hitting Bernhardt has to offer, size excluded.

“Growing up I’ve been known as a defensive player,” Bernhardt related. “I often hear a coach say ‘he picks it well.’ Power is not something I rely on, so it’s footwork, my glove, getting on base and being a gritty and scrappy player.

“I like to say I’m a good teammate,” Bernhardt continued. “I definitely like to go out and work hard and compete. I’ve done that since I was little, whether it was playing baseball, soccer or football.”

It helped him make the varsity baseball team at LD Bell as a freshman.

“Everyone was older, bigger and stronger than me,” Bernhardt said. “You can’t control your height, but you can control your strength to some point. I just have to be mentally stronger than everyone out on the field.”

It’s meant hard work is a given.

“I know practicing with the high school is not enough to get to the next level,” Bernhardt said. “I try my best to hit at an indoor facility and my garage as much as I can after practice.”

Improved hitting is a must according to the LD Bell senior.

“I tend to miss my pitch and foul it off too much,” Bernhardt admitted. “I’m working on staying patient and trying to realize that kind of stuff happens in the game. I just try to stay positive and work on getting stronger both physically and mentally.”

It is something his summer coach Jason Noonan has helped with along the way.

“My junior year in high school, and a little my sophomore year, I was not having the season I wanted out of myself,” Bernhardt reflected. “I got down on myself and not flushing things out. But over the summer he helped me relax and have fun. The game is supposed to be something you enjoy doing and he helped me re-enjoy the game while restilling my confidence. I fell in love with the game again.”

When it comes to the defensive side of the game, Bernhardt has never had a problem.

“I’ve played shortstop consistently the last four or five years with a little second base,” Bernhardt noted. “But I’m comfortable in the outfield, too. I take pride in my footwork and my hands being smooth. I’ve heard teammates and coaches say my footwork and glove can succeed at the next level.”

Now it is a matter of getting that across to colleges.

“I know I don’t have the type of leverage to choose if a coach says he would like me to come play for him,” Bernhardt said. “I’m open to any college, whatever fits best for me. I want to be patient and if the opportunity to commit is right for me and my family, wherever I’m comfortable with that school is where I’m going to choose.

“I didn’t think I’d be in this position my senior year,” continued Bernhardt, a 3.4 student who plans to major in business. “We’re about to start district play and I still don’t know where I’m going to college. But it’s helped me grow as a person and as a player. The opportunity to talk to coaches about the chance to go and play for them has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

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