Athlete of the week: Mt. Vernon senior proves to be a man for all seasons


Mt. Vernon High School senior pitcher/shortstop Eli Bridenthal’s competitiveness began to show during grade-school recess.

“Even in fifth-grade recess, the teachers would get mad at me for not passing the ball because I didn’t want to lose,” Bridenthal said. “I mean, I’ll race you down the hallway just to say I beat you. Some people just don’t like me simply for the fact that I’m too competitive sometimes.”

That competitiveness drove Bridenthal to keep playing football, basketball and baseball throughout high school.

AA ATHLETE OF THE WEEK 0425 head shot

“He is one of the most competitive players I’ve coached in my 20 years as a head coach,” Mt. Vernon baseball coach Brad King said.

As of April 18, Bridenthal, who will play baseball for Xavier University next season, was hitting .432. The 6-foot-2 right-hander had a 2-0 record with a 1.27 earned run average for the Marauders (8-2).

“Eli puts in a great deal of time to improve all of his skills,” King said. “Eli is one of the best pitchers in the state, a very solid defensive shortstop, and his athleticism makes him a threat on offense. But his greatest improvement has been as a leader. Eli has been on several successful teams at MVHS, including baseball. Younger players see this and realize he understands what it takes to get to the next level of success.”

King said it’s rare these days to see three-sport athletes at larger schools such as Mt. Vernon.

“It’s even more rare to see one who is as skilled as Eli is in those sports,” King said. “He was, and is, not only a starter on each of the teams, but he plays a large role in the success these programs have. Again, this is due to being blessed with great athletic ability and traits, a tremendous work-ethic, and a competitive drive to maximize his potential.”

Bridenthal said he enjoyed playing all three sports his entire life.

“I’ve never had an offseason,” he said. “I don’t like sitting around doing nothing. I love individual things about each sport. With basketball, I love the culture. Being in Indiana, there’s nothing like it. Football, you can’t beat Friday night lights. I love everything about baseball.”

Bridenthal invents games to liven up practice.

“We’ll be taking batting practice and I’ll be in the outfield, saying whoever catches the most balls wins,” he said. “It makes my teammates go harder.”

Bridenthal, who played some quarterback and receiver, threw for 422 yards, rushed for 394 yards and caught 41 passes for 622 yards last season.

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