HELENA — Matt Krieger felt he was playing his best baseball at the end of the last year’s American Legion season when the Helena Senators were in the Class AA state tournament in Kapispell.
He wasn’t the only one who felt good about his game.
The University of Mary baseball coaches scouted the tournament, and Krieger was one of the players who stood out in the 2019 recruiting class who fit their needs.
That led to him signing with the Marauders on Saturday morning, after the Senators met to plan their spring training program.
“It’s an awesome feeling, having a place that wants you and you enjoy,” Krieger said. “That feels good. It’s exciting.”
Krieger is a senior middle infielder out of Capital High. He has the athletic ability to cover plenty of ground in the middle of the field and the arm to make the throws from any infield spot.
Combine that was some speed and a strong bat, and Krieger is someone who can make a quick impact with the NCAA Division II Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference team from Bismarck, North Dakota.
“I hit pretty well at state,” Krieger said. “I played some of my better defense there. They liked how I carried myself, how I was running on and off the field.”
About a week after the state tournament, Krieger received the call from the Mary coaches. As they got to know each other, he let them know he was going to be playing with Big Sky Baseball, a fall showcase team in Three Forks, and shared his game schedule.
Mary coaches followed him throughout the fall and liked what they saw at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic. That led to an opportunity for Krieger to visited them.
He became interested in what he saw on campus and found his college home. He plans to study physical therapy there, and do postgraduate work at Mary, too. Krieger is combining an athletic and academic scholarship.
“I got watch them do a workout, and it was awesome there,” Krieger said. “They are new coaches. Their personality is great. That stood out, and I like the campus.”
Krieger feels fortunate that coaches found him and wanted him to play for their team. He was unfamiliar with the program until they called.
“At first I never heard of University of Mary,” Krieger said. “There were others talking to me, but they stood out the most. After visiting, I knew that was the place to go.”
Senators coach Jon Burnett, who has worked with Krieger for three years, feels the Marauders are a perfect fit for him, and he expects him to do well right away.
Krieger played for the Class A Reps team for two years, and was an all-conference shortstop as a sophomore before joining the Senators last season.
“He’s a hard-working kid, a baseball fanatic,” Burnett said. “He loves the game. And I’m proud of what he’s worked on to become a great player. He’s put in a lot of work on his strength and speed. He’s done a lot of work off the field.”
Krieger has two more seasons of eligibility with the Senators, his upcoming senior year and he could come back during the summer after his freshman season at Mary.
He’s looking forward to the coming season, and expects to make the state tournament again with the potential of several starters coming back this season.
“We are looking forward to what he can do for his senior year,” Burnett said. “He’s a good leader on and off the field, and he’s a good teammate.”