We know there’s still two months of winter left, but soon you’ll be seeing a lot of baseball on Press Pros already. And there’s a very good reason why.
I smile as I look out my office window this afternoon and see snow flurries in the air…and the thermometer hanging at 28 degrees!
Granted, I’m not smiling over the weather. Rather, my mind races ahead to two weekends from now when Press Pros will be traveling, and writing…are you ready for this…the opening weekend of college baseball!
That’s right, Greg Hoard and Julie Wright will be traveling with Coach Greg Beals and the Ohio State Buckeyes to their opening series at the Dodgertown Classic at Vero Beach, Florida…against Toledo, Niagra, and the University of Pittsburgh.
And Hal McCoy and I will be with Tony Vittorio and the Dayton Flyers for their three-game opener in Spartanburg, South Carolina…against Stoney Brook, USC (South Carolina) and the University of Kentucky.
This will kick off what will be an unprecedented spring of coverage for amateur baseball on Press Pros, and unprecedented compared to any other media outlet, local or state-wide, as well. Some cover it because they have to. We embrace it. Here’s why.
Several years ago, Rod Martin, a representative with College Prospects of America, the recruiting service for prep athletes that “don’t” get recruited for Division I football and basketball, shared that more kids (boys and girls) get money and opportunity to play college baseball and softball than that offered by football and basketball combined. Their reasoning? Because so many NAIA and Division II and III colleges actually need athletes to fill out their rosters for the two sports.
In addition, Division I colleges across the state of Ohio share with me that they welcome the walk-on athlete who has at least two of the five basic baseball skills (running, throwing, hitting, hitting with power, and fielding) who are committed to playing and want to be a contributing part of their program. The trick is…how do athlete and college baseball find each other?
The answer, in part, can be Press Pros!
The reason we cover college baseball EVERY year is so prospective high school baseball players in the area can become familiar with the process, the coaches, and players…and understand that there could be room for them, as well.
And that said, the reason we’ll cover area high school baseball five days a week come spring is so the two can mutually learn about each other. I’ve yet to meet a college baseball coach who doesn’t complain about the lack of budget allocated for recruited – in truth, about 5% of that dedicated to football and basketball!
So, we’ll be there in Vero Beach the weekend of February 19, 20, and 21 – and in Spartanburg – watching the Buckeyes and the Flyers inaugurate their 2016 season.
In the now baseball-rich Big Ten, a conference with four teams that have appeared in the NCAA regionals in the past three seasons, the Buckeyes are picked in the middle of the pack.
But that can change. Beals boasts his most athletic starting lineup in his five years in Columbus, notwithstanding losing four key players from last year’s 35-20 roster to the major league draft. Young pitching is the question mark as they head south to Florida in two weeks.
At Dayton Tony Vittorio is admittedly in rebuilding phase, trying to bounce back from 16-38 season a year ago with a young roster featuring just six returning seniors…and two area freshman products.
Connor Echols is a freshman infielder out of Sidney High School, and A.J. Hemmelgarn, from Lehman High School, will compete for mound time on a wide-open pitching staff.
The point is, if you’re a high school baseball player and want to play at the next level…you can. And Press Pros’ coverage of these two college programs will give you the opportunity to gauge your own skills and dreams against the reality of doing it. It takes talent, yes. And it takes commitment. But if you have both here is the insight as to what your baseball future might hold…if you want to play!
So, it all starts on Press Pros in less than two weeks. And why not? You can sit here and shiver, anticipating the winter we’ve yet to have…or you can read baseball and think about the boys of summer in the warm winds of spring training. April is just seven weeks away.
And your bridge between then and now…is Press Pros!