Q&A With Senior Steven Schuknecht Ahead of Senior Day Sunday
Steven Schuknecht is one of eight outstanding UC San Diego seniors who will be recognized in between games of this Sunday's doubleheader against Cal State Dominguez Hills on Senior Day at Triton Ballpark. The Palm Desert native who serves as the Tritons' leftfielder or designated hitter, has already completed his undergraduate degree in international studies-international business last month, with a minor in accounting. With the Tritons controlling their own fate and needing five wins out of their last eight to assure themselves a first CCAA regular-season title since 2012, Schuk was our latest Triton Baseball Q&A guest.
Q: Out of a school-record 78 home runs in 2018, you had arguably one of the biggest, as your pinch-hit, solo blast at Azusa Pacific in the West Regional finals pulled you to within one in the eighth, going back-to-back with Nick Kitzmann, and allowed the Tritons to walk it off in the ninth. Talk about that at-bat, and how it felt to hit that one out and ultimately punch your ticket to Cary.
SCHUKNECHT: As I was walking up to the plate, I knew I just wanted to get a good pitch to hit and find a way on base to flip it back to (Tyler) Durna and Zander (Clarke) to try and give them a chance to tie the game. After I hit it and saw it go out, I blacked out until I got back to the dugout. It was easily one of the best feelings in my career, apart from the dogpile that followed.
Q: After your 2017 season was cut short due to injury, how gratifying was it to hit six of those 78 home runs and assist your team in making a return trip to the College World Series?
SCHUKNECHT: After watching the first trip to the CWS in 2017, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help the team get back there again. To be able to come back and contribute in any way to last year's team's success was extremely rewarding.
Q: Apart from that home run of yours in Azusa, is there another specific memory from last year's run to Cary, that stands out most to you?
SCHUKNECHT: If I had to pick something specific, I would say the comeback (from 6-0 down) against CBU (California Baptist) in game two of that (2018) regional was special to be a part of. However, what stands out most in my mind is the whole playoff run from the beginning of the conference tournament to our last game in Cary, and is something I will never forget.
Q: As you approach your final regular-season home games this Sunday, what will you remember most from your time as a Triton playing for Coach Newman?
SCHUKNECHT: This thought is getting very surreal for me. The thing I will remember most about my time here is the time spent with all of my teammates who I'm lucky to call my best friends. All the time spent on and off the field and in the clubhouse every day, is something that I will cherish.
Q: You top the CCAA standings heading into the final two weeks of the regular season. Eight games. Cal State Dominguez Hills this weekend. What's it going to take to win the Tritons' first regular-season banner since 2012?
SCHUKNECHT: We just have to continue to get better every day and take it one day and one game at a time. I know that sounds cliché, but it's the truth. Our fate is in our own hands, and that's the best part about it. As long as we do what we need to do to win on any given day, we should be able to bring home the banner.
Q: After knocking on the doorstep the last two seasons, does this team have what it takes to win a first national title in program history?
SCHUKNECHT: I believe this team does have what it takes to make that final leap. We have a lot of experience from returning guys who have been a part of one if not both of the runs to the CWS the past two years, and a lot of new and young guys have caught on and been having a great deal of success.
Q: You're one of three Tritons who have already completed their UC San Diego undergraduate degree requirements, finishing in international business late last month. What types of things are you thinking about for your future?
SCHUKNECHT: Finishing up with school early has given me some time to try and finally figure that out, haha. I've been lucky enough to get some interviews and am hoping to get into a Management Training Program of some sort with a company here in San Diego. It's tough to want to leave this place after four years.
Q: You're one of the team's Triton Athletes' Council (TAC) representatives this year. What can you say about the work you guys do, and what do you enjoy most about being involved with that group?
SCHUKNECHT: Being a part of TAC has been very rewarding. Everyone works extremely hard and a lot of the work goes on behind the scenes as far as setting up events, identifying problems and finding solutions. My favorite thing about being involved is having a voice, as well as planning different events such as TAC challenges, for example (chili cookoff this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Triton Ballpark).
Q: What did you take away growing up with two older brothers who played both college and professional baseball?
SCHUKNECHT: Growing up with them was an extreme blessing. I always did and still do look up to them in every way, and they've taught me a lot about baseball and life in general. We still talk regularly about baseball and adjustments that may help me, etc., but the biggest takeaway was just the work ethic. They both showed me the path and what it would take to play college and professional baseball, and I can't thank them enough for that.
Q: Your bio says that you love to cook. How much time and effort do you spend on that craft? Is there a favorite dish you like to make, and/or feel like you're good at making?
SCHUKNECHT: I don't spend as much time and effort on it during the season as I'd like to, but I'm a big fan of trying different things and finding creative ways to make foods more enjoyable. A staple of mine I've come to perfect, is a grilled cheese. There are a lot of creative ways to do different things with them.
Previous 2019 Triton Baseball Q&A Features
About UC San Diego Athletics
With 30 national team championships, nearly 150 individual titles and the top student-athlete graduation rate among Division II institutions in the United States, the UC San Diego intercollegiate athletics program annually ranks as one of the most successful in the country. The Tritons sponsor 23 intercollegiate sport programs that compete on the NCAA Division I and II levels and, in summer 2020, will transition into full Division I status as a member of the Big West Conference. UC San Diego student-athletes exemplify the academic ideals of one of the world's preeminent institutions, graduating at an average rate of 91 percent. A total of 80 Tritons have earned Academic All-America honors, while 37 have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships. In competition, more than 1,300 UC San Diego student-athletes have earned All-America honors.
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