June 28, 2011

All Summer Long: Santa Clara Players Hone Their Skills In Summer Leagues

by: Brandon Rebboah

SANTA CLARA, Calif.- Matching almost every NCAA Division I college baseball program, the Santa Clara Broncos played 50-plus games from Opening Day in mid-February to the end of May in 2011. After the season was over, the Bronco players buckled down to finish the quarter, taking final exams and writing papers. Then it was baseball season again. Summer baseball season that is.

For the Broncos and the rest of the collegiate baseball community, the summer offers a time for players to get better before the next college baseball season.

With countless collegiate summer leagues nationally, players spend their summers playing with teams comprised of college players from around the  country. Most of the Broncos are somewhere playing in a summer league. With players all over the country, Broncos are in the Northwoods League, Texas Collegiate Baseball League, the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League, Alaskan Baseball League, Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, California Collegiate League and many more.

It's not uncommon for Broncos to look across to the opposing dugout and see a fellow Bronco, especially in the Northwoods League. Santa Clara has five players playing in the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is a respected summer league with teams in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Canada. Santa Clara teammates Kyle DeMerritt and Stephen Meade are Wisconsin Woodchucks' roster. Matt Ozanne plays for the Green Bay Bull Frogs, Justin Viele plays for the Eau Claire Express and Pat Stover plays for the Willmar Stingers.

Santa Clara's own Freshman All-American Kyle DeMerritt and sophomore Matt Ozanne were both in the starting lineup when DeMerritt's Woodchucks downed Ozanne and the Bull Frogs, 10-7, on Thurs., June 23. Both Broncos were 1-3 with a RBI for their respective teams.

Outside of the Northwoods League, other Santa  Clara players are gaining valuable experience including second baseman Drew Ozanne (pictured), catcher Anthony Martinez, Brock Simon, and Paul Twining, just to name a few. Drew Ozanne is playing for the Lake Eerie Monarchs in Toledo, Ohio. He is currently hitting .333 through five games. Martinez  is playing for the Kauai Menehunes in the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League and Brock Simon is playing for the Mat-Su Miners in the Alaskan Baseball League. Paul Twining is playing for the San Luis Obispo Blues of the California Collegiate League. Twining has made six relief appearances for the Blues, picking up two saves and totaling eight innings of work.

The leagues allow young players valuable at-bats to grow as players before they return to their schools for the 2012 season. Zach Looney, who will be a sophomore for the Broncos next season, is having a tremendous summer. Looney is playing for the East Texas Pump Jacks of the Texas Collegiate League. As of Tues., June 28, Looney is riding a 11-game hitting streak. He has played in 13 games for the Pump Jacks, hitting .438 (21 for 48) with five doubles, 12 RBI, a stolen base and 13 runs scored.

After their summer seasons conclude, the Broncos will return to the Mission Campus as they prepare for the 2012 season and begin classes in late-September, but until then check back with SantaClaraBroncos.com for updates, players' comments and more on all the Broncos as they play summer baseball around the country. The "All Summer Long" series will highlight a player in each update. Stay tuned!