Baseball: Former Crown Point standout Mike Kozlowski dies in ATV accident
By LAMOND POPE email@example.com or 713-2691 Twitter: @lamondpope August 18, 2014 8:04PM
Updated: September 20, 2014 6:25AM
Mike Kozlowski always had the right approach at the plate.
Take, for example, Crown Point’s 2009 semistate game against Fort Wayne Snider.
The home plate umpire, according to Bulldogs’ coach Steve Strayer, called strikes “about eight inches off the plate.”
“He just climbed right on the plate, stuck the bat out there and came up with two huge hits for us,” Strayer said. “He would always find a way to succeed.”
Kozlowski, who Strayer considers one of Crown Point’s best baseball players ever, died Saturday in an ATV accident. The 2009 Crown Point graduate was 23.
“When I think of Mike, he’s probably the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” Strayer said. “What I mean by toughness is not just the fact that he’s physically tough because he was extremely strong and had a very good physique on him — he was a pure athlete — but the part upstairs. He had a mental part where he would just not give in. He always would reach down and find a way to succeed. No matter what it takes.”
Kozlowski led the Bulldogs to four consecutive sectional championships and three straight appearances in semistate. He earned first-team All-State honors in 2009. He also played at John Logan Junior College and Murray State.
When Kozlowski hit a ball squarely, Dave Sutkowski said, it just had that certain sound off his bat.
“That’s what made him such a good hitter. He wasn’t just one-dimensional,” Kozlowski, the president of the Indiana Chiefs of Hammond. Kozlowski spent three years in the Chiefs program. “He was capable of hitting for power, he was capable of hitting for average and he was capable of hitting the ball to all parts of the field.”
He is Crown Point’s career leader in home runs (27) and average (.464).
But his impact went beyond the numbers.
“The players were actually afraid to give less than 100 percent when he was around just because the way his makeup was,” Strayer said.”… He had some good players around him, don’t get me wrong. There were some guys that really clicked with Mike. They really like Mike. They understood where he came from and when it was off the field stuff, they really enjoyed being around him.
“He had a great personality and that really helped. His personality allowed the players to respect what he was doing on the field. He had a lot of personality and charisma that the players really looked up to.”