All-Empire Small School Baseball: Clear Lake’s Brodnansky a student of the game


Clear Lake junior Cole Brodnansky (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Clear Lake junior Cole Brodnansky (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Baseball is a study for Cole Brodnansky, always learning, consistently preparing for the game’s challenges.

Rarely satisfied is the Clear Lake High catcher, even with one of this season’s best batting lines and among the top receivers in Empire prep baseball.

“I like to think I’ve got to push myself harder each day,” Brodnansky said. “A hundred percent will just keep me the same. There’s always room to get better.”

Such a passion for baseball helped Brodnansky put together an outstanding junior season following his breakout sophomore year. Brodnansky, who helped lead Clear Lake to a league title and section playoff win, is the All-Empire Small School Baseball Player of the Year.

“Overall, he had a very good year,” said Clear Lake coach Zane Jensen. “But we really wanted him to step up as a leader on this team and he did. His work ethic is awesome.”

Meeting expectations and then some, Brodnansky batted .440 with half his hits going for extra bases, and knocking in 26 runners.

“I was better able to recognize adjustments. Each at-bat just prepares you for the next one,” he said.

Behind the plate, he threw out half of runners attempting stolen bases. Better footwork and a quicker release helped Brodnansky nail more runners this season.

Where he improved most was in working with pitchers. Brodnansky developed greater command of the catching position and with helping pitchers reach their potential.

“I was more comfortable behind the plate. I was on the same page with my pitchers,” he said. “You find a pitcher’s comfort zone so there’s less pressure. Then it’s just like the old game of playing catch.”

Clear Lake was the Empire’s best small school team on the mound and at the plate. Cardinals pitchers held opponents to just under two runs a contest while the offense averaged seven runs per game.

Losing just once in NCL I league play, Clear Lake received the fifth seed in the North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs. The Cardinals reached the quarterfinals.

Helping power Clear Lake’s strong season was Brodnansky and his drive to improve.

Preparation begins with summer football workouts. When not training as a running back-linebacker, Brodnansky is playing summer league baseball games for the Clear Lake High team. He practices hitting weekly with an instructor and also finds time for sessions with a catching coach throughout the year.

“He is in excellent shape, spends a lot of time lifting weights and strengthening his legs for the long season,” Jensen said. “He is very serious about being the best he can be.”

In addition to conditioning, football also helps Brodnansky develop a strong mental approach so important to riding baseball’s peaks and valleys, sometimes in the same game.

“It’s the same mindset of wanting to get better and be as much a leader as possible,” Brodnansky said.

Teammates recognize the effort Brodnansky makes to improve and play the game to the best of his ability.

“He’ll work with teammates. Vocally he steps up, encouraging guys to stay on track and stay motivated,” Jensen said. “We did not have captains on the team but he would be considered a leader. Mostly because all the guys see his work ethic and how he leads by example.”

When not playing baseball, Brodnansky is watching the game. A big college baseball fan, he also follows major leaguers as a student of the game.

“It gives me goals for the future and what I need to do to get there,” he said.

Also a very good student in the classroom, Brodnansky wants to play baseball on the college level.

First is his senior season at Clear Lake and another push for a league title and section playoff run.

“I’d like to lead this team back and go even farther,” Brodnansky said. “I try to put my teammates and everything before me, whatever it takes to win as a team.”

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or


Cole Brodnansky, Clear Lake, Jr.

Dimitri Betts, Willits, Jr.
Jackson Graff, St. Helena, Sr.
Josiah Amos, Middletown, Sr.
David Mansell, Clear Lake, Sr.
Mitch Seely, Clear Lake, Sr.
George Sammon, St. Vincent, Jr.
Dominic Pedersen, St. Vincent, So.
Devin Dooley, Mendocino, Sr.
Tim Sanders, Point Arena, Sr.

Alex Archer, St. Helena, So.
Jonathan Villarreal, Kelseyville, Sr.
Brad Bologna, Middletown, Sr.
Justin Thom, Willits, So.
Dillon Williams, Clear Lake, Jr.
Liam Galten, St. Vincent, So.
Adam Gockel , Rincon Valley Christian, Jr.
Anthony Feliciano, Tomales, Sr.
Dylan De La Montanya, Sonoma Academy, So.

Noah Lyndall, Kelseyville, So.
Tyler Ashby, Fort Bragg, Sr.
Matt Heller, Clear Lake, Jr.
Hank Harris, Willits, Sr.
Tyler Holt, Middletown, Jr.
Max Cowell, St. Vincent, Sr.
Mark Breaux, Rincon Valley Christian, Jr.
Jacob Brady, Tomales, Sr.
Justin Sundstrom, Point Arena, Sr.

Zane Jensen, Clear Lake

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