Updated: Sep 13
When the Mystic Schooners traveled to Keene, New Hampshire, to play the Swamp Bats, Belmont senior infielder Sam Kirkpatrick scored two runs and helped secure the 7-1 win for his team.
“A good part of summer baseball is that you’re not playing for as high stakes. It’s really individual and a lot more laid back and relaxed,” said Kirkpatrick.
Beginning after the school season ends, college athletes often give up their school colors and put on the jerseys of their summer league teams.
Summer leagues give college athletes the opportunity to stay in shape and potentially grow their skills in a low-stakes environment.
Throughout his time with the Schooners, Kirpatrick’s play improved.
His hitting coach taught him how to get more power from his swing.
He made 16 runs during his summer season, with a batting average of .289.
Kirkpatrick said he is already implementing his learned techniques while working in the offseason with Belmont’s hitting coach.
“I actually really enjoy summer baseball, but it does a lot of the time feel more like a job and a chore,” Kirkpatrick said.
Even in the relaxed summer atmosphere, the summer league can prove to be difficult. Players don’t get time off. They have to show up for early morning workouts and back-to-back games.
Because players are together for only a few months, teams often don’t gel in the same way school teams do. This can create a feeling of isolation and lack of motivation, he said.
“In the school season if you’re struggling, your teammates are still going to be there to pick you up. But in the summer, everybody’s kind of worried about themselves and trying to use the summer to get better on their own,” Kirkpatrick said.
“You have to find an extra gear to keep going as the summer goes on because it’s really just you.”
But that worked for Kirkpatrick, who said he got up for the morning workouts, often arriving early to the field to get in some extra swings.
Kirkpatrick said he wants to use that extra experience to lead the Bruins to a successful season when college baseball begins in the spring.
This article was written by Cat Da Rocha