Ponatoski Commits To Missouri At 13-Years-Old


Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Ohio Senior Writer

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Ponatoski Commits To Missouri At 13-Years-Old

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Matthew Ponatoski

Class of 2026 / SS

Player Information

  • Graduating Class: 2026
  • Primary Position: SS
    Secondary Position: 2B
  • State: OH
  • Summer Team: Wow Factor
  • Height: 5-7
    Weight: 130lbs
  • Bat/Throw: L/R

Ponatoski Commits To Missouri At 13-Years-Old

HAMILTON  - In a rare accomplishment, Matt Ponatoski is one of the few to ever know his college destination before where he is going to high school.

The 13-year-old eighth grader has made a commitment to Missouri.

“The Wow Factor had taken players to Missouri and they had done workouts with them,” Ponatoski explained about making a connection with the Southeastern Conference school. “They saw some 2025s and the coach asked who is the next in line for 2026s, so we went to a camp.”

That took place on Dec. 17.

“It felt like all the staff knew me,” Ponatoski said, mentioning head coach Steve Bieser and hitting coach Jason Hagerty in particular. “It was an easy environment to perform in. Coach Bieser and coach Hagerty were awesome. It was all positive and the facilities were great.”

BP inside and outside off a machine took place on day one along with pitchers throwing and ground balls, with day two a showcase day with pitching off the mound, infield work and BP at the end of the day.

“When I was doing infield, coach (Tylar) Packanik said he liked my movements in the infield and that my arm is pretty plus for my age,” Ponatoski related. “Coach Hagerty really liked my swing and coach Bieser said he was surprised I was a 2026. He said I could work for any grade. I was proud of that compliment.”

An offer came at the camp.

“I sat in the waiting room, I was the second person they called in,” Ponatoski reflected. “He said they wanted to offer and I was kind of mind blown. I was just going to the camp to learn things. It was all kind of surprising. They had a high opinion of what I would project to be and gave a really good offer.”

Conversation with family followed.

“Everybody that supported him said it was a great opportunity,” noted his father, Ryan. “With an early commitment he can get adapted into the Missouri system. We’ll go to camps and send them videos so they can see where he’s at. Four years of communication will lead to more comfort so he can be prepared to perform on the field early.”

Three reasons for making a commitment three months before turning 14 were given by Ponatoski.

“My parents don’t have to pay for college, the SEC is the best conference there is and the coaching staff was absolutely amazing,” Ponatoski reasoned.

The college camp was the first the 5-7 140-pounder ever attended.

“It checked a lot of boxes,” explained Ponatoski, who a year ago was throwing 82. “It has facilities of the SEC and they‘re talking about building more. Just being able to compete in the SEC was big. It’s the top conference in the country. Coach Bieser has had a solid program competing in the SEC and how they view me was a big factor in committing.”

College baseball became a dream at a young age for Ponatoski.

“My dad snuck me into T-Ball at three-years-old,” Ponatoski reflected. “I made an eight-year-old select team when I was five and have been playing up ever since.

“When I switched to the Wow Factor I was playing against the best competition and started thinking about college.” continued Ponatoski, crediting Scott Bray and Evin Einhardt. “But I didn’t think it would be this early.”

His mother, Ryan, remembers his early days of playing ball.

“In diapers he was hitting off a tee,” she said. “It’s our passion and we hoped our kids would have the same passion. Since he’s been able to stand he’s been hitting a baseball.”

Improvement has come in the past year.

“God gave me a few inches,” Ponatoski said of where progress was made. “I go to Rise Fit and they helped me get better in the weight room and get a little faster, especially Derrick Partman the trainer. I had a jump in exit velo and throwing velo and I started in the weight room this year. It’s helping a lot.”

A position in college is far from determined for the left-handed hitting right-hander.

“They offered me as a two-way,” related Ponatoski, who is currently a shortstop and pitcher. “When I go to high school if I excel at one I can go that route, but if I excel at both I can do that. They have some two-ways there now.”

Ponatoski, whose parents met in college while playing sports at Northern Kentucky, his father baseball and mother softball, anticipates a memorable future once arriving at his future college home.

“I’m looking forward to the college experience of meeting new people from around the country,” pointed out Ponatoski.”They have a lot of players drafted and that’s the goal.”

But before that comes into the picture there is a matter of deciding where to spend the next four years of schooling, with Moeller and Badin the frontrunners.

“I’m still trying to figure out where I’m going to high school,” Ponatoski said. “It’s crazy, I already know where I’m going to college. So I have to figure that out and just continue to put the work in every day. There are no days off. I’m just excited about this opportunity.”


 

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