The fall semester is under way at Richland College, both academically and athletically, and so it’s back to work for the Thunderducks baseball team. Throughout the summer, the team has been practicing and preparing for the fall exhibition season.
Although the Thunderducks have posted an overall winning season in the spring, improving the team by playing junior college baseball early in the school year is a plus. The Thunderducks finished 15th or higher overall in several offensive categories, including runs, hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases. These young men are ready to make the team for the spring 2017 season.
Guy Simmons, head baseball coach, said they will be playing fall baseball games but it’s only friendly competition: No scoreboard, no umpires, just good old-fashioned baseball, just like on the neighborhood fields. This upcoming season will be different so the players can rest and study more. Simmons said, “We changed our conference schedule this year. We’ll be playing more nine-inning games to relieve long days.”
If you ever watch a doubleheader game in baseball, or any sport for that matter, you know how tough it is for the players to be out there for most of the day. That’s how it is in junior college baseball.
“We’re trying to shorten the days for them, give them more time to study and be more student-athletes,” said Simmons.
Last season’s team saw three freshman players make the all-star game; infielders Pierce Khan, Javier Castaneda and outfielder Blaine McCullars. All three finished the spring campaign with a combined total of 109 runs batted in, 136 runs scored and their hitting averages above .350.
Second baseman Oscar Betancourt and outfielder Russell Brown finished their sophomore years with the most stolen bases and .453 and .450 batting averages respectively. Fourteen players finished the season with batting averages above .300, five above .400.
Simmons is looking forward to another outstanding season on offense, and the players are also looking forward to a productive season now that the schedule is more suitable for the players.