QUINCY -- Quincy University baseball coach Josh Rabe liked enough of what he had seen to fly Brynn Martinez and his father here for a recruiting visit.
What Rabe learned while the shortstop from Southwest Ranches, Fla., was here was that he didn't want him to leave.
"On his recruiting visit, we worked him out and saw what he could really do," Rabe said. "It was like, ‘We have to have this guy.'"
The QU coaches will relish that decision for one more year.
Martinez will be one of the central figures in the Hawks' lineup as they attempt to make another run at reaching the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships this spring. The senior will be back in the leadoff spot, serve as the anchor of the infield and provide the leadership expected of a four-year starter.
"Vocally, when things aren't going well, we don't have to say much," Rabe said. "He'll take care of it. Our guys do a good job of policing it themselves."
Martinez gives his teammates a strong reason to listen. He has been the epitome of a team-first player.
An early-season injury forced Martinez to miss 10 games last season, and he struggled offensively upon his return, seeing his average dip below .250. After Martinez went hitless in a doubleheader split with Missouri-St. Louis, Rabe bumped Dominic Miles to the top of the lineup and dropped Martinez to the No. 9 spot.
The shortstop never blinked.
"There was no rehab assignment," Rabe said. "After the injury, he came back, and he had to start playing. He got on a bad streak, but he was a very mature player about it. He continued to work at it.
"He's back swinging the bat, running around the field making things happen."
There's no place Martinez would rather be.
"I've got remember the love of the game, the joy, taking every second to be with these guys and enjoy it," Martinez said. "I really put an emphasis on giving God the glory. That's really what I want to do.
"As a ballplayer on this team, my job is to put us in positions to win. That's getting on base, fielding the ball, wreaking havoc."
He's been pretty good at that throughout his career. Martinez is a career .305 hitter with 34 stolen bases, 24 doubles, 15 home runs and 81 RBIs. He had 70 or more hits in his first two seasons and needs to get back to that number to be an effective lead-off hitter.
"The lead-off mindset is something I've had to learn over the years," Martinez said. "It's taking each pitch and having a purpose with each at-bat. It's any way to get on base. With the bats I have behind me, it makes the game fun and easy.
"I get on base, someone is going to get me over, someone is going to get me in. It makes it fun. It's attacking pitchers and attacking defenses."
It's made him a better baseball player.
"And coming here, it's made me a better man," Martinez said. "It's lived up to expectations, but there's still more to do. There's a lot to accomplish this season."