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FAITHFUL FAN | Mizzou’s baseball coach follows through on his pledges

In 2016 when Steve Bieser took over the coaching duties for the University of Missouri-Columbia’s baseball team, he pledged to focus on four core values: players, family, education and service to others.

The team has succeeded on the field, winning more than 100 games in his three seasons, including 34-22 this year. But he’s also followed through on those pledges.

Mizzou baseball enjoyed an outstanding 2018-19 school year in the classroom, finishing with a team cumulative 3.04 grade point average. The Tigers continued to improve academically each of his three years. Last summer, 12 individuals were named to the 2017-18 Southeastern Conference First-Year Academic Honor Roll, while seven additional Tigers garnered 2018 Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll accolades. Last November, the Tigers were one of five programs on campus to tally a perfect graduation success rate.

After a tornado ravaged Jefferson City this spring, Bieser rallied his team to aid in the relief efforts. The entire Mizzou baseball team and coaching staff made the half-hour drive south to Jefferson City to help pick up the debris left by the storm that went through the area. Mizzou cleaned up, among other places, the Special Olympics Complex in Jefferson City that’s supported by the Knights of Columbus.

Mizzou infielder Paul Gomez of Orange, Calif., was named to the 2019 Southeastern Conference Baseball Community Service Team. Gomez completed community service work through Mizzou Moves, Food Bank of Central Missouri, Caleb’s Pitch at University of Missouri Hospital, Reading Club at West Boulevard Elementary School, Optimist Club Tree Farm, Make-A-Wish, Bear Creek Run Half Marathon, Mizzou Youth Experience, HyVee Food Preparation and Douglass Park Clean-Up.

Mizzou’s baseball and softball squads teamed up for the second straight year to benefit the University of Missouri Tiger Pantry with a five-inning, fast-pitch charity softball game. The Tiger Pantry provides food for people in need within the University of Missouri community.

A native of Ste. Genevieve, Bieser coached Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau after a successful tenure as head coach at St. John Vianney High School in Kirkwood. In seven seasons leading the Griffins, his team won state championships in 2004 and 2006, and he compiled a record of 137-51.

Even though he works at a public university, he doesn’t hide his Catholic faith. “I share the fact that I’m a believer,” the two-time Ohio Valley Coach of the Year said in an interview for a previous article in the Review. “As a head baseball coach, I’ll never shove religion down anyone’s throat, but you will see me model it every day, you’ll see me do the right things. And that’s all I’m asking my team to do. Everyone knows right from wrong, so just go out and do what’s right.”

Bieser’s team had a few players from Catholic schools in the archdiocese who excelled this year. Chris Cornelius, a junior who attended Vianney, hit .326 with 12 doubles, 7 homers and 41 RBIs. Mark Vierling, a sophomore who attended Christian Brothers College High School, hit .285 with 10 doubles and 26 RBIs. Peter Zimmermann, a junior from Chaminade, hit .287 with 10 doubles, 7 homers and 34 RBIs.

Also on the roster were Spencer Juergens, a senior from St. Francis Borgia High School, and Luke Mann, a freshman from Vianney who showed promise on the mound and at the plate.

Kenny is a staff writer for the Review and a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Oakville.

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