Note: Summer and baseball have always seemed to fit together perfectly. For fans of the game, summer is a time to enjoy the sights, sounds and atmosphere of America's pastime, but for college baseball players, it is a time for development. College players across the country, including members of the Santa Clara baseball squad, have already left for their summer experiences just weeks after finals as they begin preparation for the 2015 season.
After a much-improved 2014 campaign on the Mission Campus, Bronco ball players now occupy rosters throughout the nation in summer leagues that are helping them grow as players. Santa Clara is represented in twelve different leagues from the Bay Area to New England, while others play for independent teams. The "All Summer Long" series, in its fourth season, will chronicle the Broncos as they play in various summer leagues nationwide.
By Jessica Shusko '15
Athens, Ohio – Bronco first baseman and rising senior T.J. Braff has had quite the summer ball season, playing for the Southern Ohio Copperheads in Athens, Ohio. Braff had a successful junior season for the Broncos and has continued his success into his summer ball game.
With the Broncos this season, Braff made 35 appearances with 22 starts. At first base, Braff posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and also finished third on the team with a .309 batting average.
For the Copperheads, Braff was one of five players selected to represent the team in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League (GLSCL) game on July 16. Braff was also named the Player of the Week in early July after going 8-13 for a .615 batting average and driving in six runs. Braff leads the Copperheads with a .371 batting average and he is tied for first with 13 RBI.
"Our team has been playing great as of late but are overall record is around .500," said Braff. "We started off a little slow but we have won a lot of games in the past couple weeks."
After facing some tough completion and getting a rough start to the summer season, the Copperheads have turned things around and are currently on a five game winning streak. The team is 15-14 and is set to play a three game series against the Licking County Settlers starting July 17.
Even though Braff has had a successful summer, he hasn't lost sight of improving parts of his game.
"During the summer, I have been working on cutting down some of my strikeouts while still being able to drive the ball to all fields."
Braff isn't alone in Ohio this summer either. Bronco teammate and rising sophomore Kevin George is also on the Copperhead squad this summer.
"It has been great to have Kevin George with me in Ohio. When you live in a new place for an extended period of time it always makes it easier when you are playing with someone that you know."
This is not Braff's first time in Ohio either, but the Copperheads have taken travel trips all across the Midwest to places that Braff has never been to.
"We travel all throughout Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky. I had never been to Michigan or Kentucky so it has been fun spending time in a totally different part of the country."
With such a full game schedule, Braff and the Copperheads do not see much free time, but with the whole team living in one Ohio University sorority house (alone), they spend most of their free time together.
"Our whole team lives in a sorority house right next to campus. Even though it can sometimes get messy, it has been a blast to live there this summer. On off days the guys on the team always find something fun to do in town so we usually do things together."
The Copperhead season is winding down to their final weeks of play. Braff is hoping to finish the summer season strong and looks forward to returning to the Mission campus and the rest of his Bronco team.