Bradley senior shortstop Tyler Leffler may be nearing the end of his Bradley career, but isn’t going down quietly. The shortstop from Benton is tearing the cover off this ball this year as he leads the nation in double per game with .58.
From freshman to senior year, Leffler has guided the Braves on the field with his work ethic and passion for the game.
“The biggest thing for me over my time here has been just continuing to learn more and more about the game,” Leffler said.
Leffler started the season strong and currently leads the nation in doubles per game.
Over the years, Leffler has had his share of notable accomplishments, such as being the recipient of the Bradley Baseball Troy Guidotti Hustle Award in 2014 and 2015. In addition, Leffler was a member of the MVC All-Tournament team last year.
“It’s always a great honor to be recognized for a post-season award, no matter what that might be,” Leffler said.
From the 2014 season, he was one of only two players that started in all 51 games, and he led the team with a .354 batting average, which is quite the improvement from his paltry .196 batting average in 2015.
“I have always loved the game of baseball, and I am always looking for anything and everything to continue to develop as a player,” Leffler said.
With over eight years directing the Bradley baseball program, head coach Elvis Dominguez can attest to that after watching Leffler grow over the years.
“Tyler plays with the same enthusiasm that he’s always had since a freshman,” Dominguez said. “Even when he was struggling personally, he was not letting that impact him.”
It’s no surprise that Leffler’s improvements over the course of his career were noticed. He was even featured on ESPN SportsCenter for Top Plays in 2014.
“It’s just a matter of maturity and working hard,” Dominguez said. “That’s the key. He works hard at baseball, adds extra swings, extra ground balls and he just does it all with a purpose.”
With the extra effort Leffler puts in, he’s not only improving his own stats but also serving as a role model for younger teammates.
Junior Spencer Gaa played on the left side of Leffler for the past three years.
“Tyler has been a mentor for me since day one,” Gaa said. “Day in and day out, he gives 100 percent, no matter what the task is.”
After losing multiple players last season due to graduation and the MLB draft, the team has really come together to try to find their identity as the 2016 Braves.
“As a team, our number one goal is to win the [Missouri Valley Confernce] and get to a Regional again this year,” Leffler said. “This season, our biggest opponent will always be the next game, and we will continue to take it one game at a time.”
Reminiscing over his time at Bradley, Leffler said he can remember his transitions from freshman year until now.
“The biggest thing for the young guys is not making it harder than it is,” Leffler said. “It’s the same game they have played their whole lives. Don’t overthink anything and continue to play the game hard, and good things will happen.”
There will be big cleats to fill once Leffler removes his uniform at the end of the season. Not only is he a talented athlete and role model, but he was an extra coach on the field.
“There are many ups and downs that come with the game of baseball,” he said. “Last season was one of those times for me that you just have to continue to play hard and continue to put in the work.”
The future looks bright for Leffler in the baseball world, and according to Dominguez, It’s not a matter of if he’ll get to play, but where.
“I think someone will give him a chance,” Dominguez said. “Especially with the kind of year he’s having and his track record.”