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
Lima, Ohio – One of the Broncos top pitchers, Jacob Steffens, has taken his game to Lima, Ohio, playing for the Lima Locos in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League (GLSCL). Ohio is new for Steffens, but that has not stopped the rising junior from carrying over his success with the Broncos to his summer ball team.
"This is my first time being in Ohio and it is extremely different from anywhere I have been before," said Steffens. "It has been a good experience partly because of my teammates who are an awesome group of guys, and partly because my host family has adopted me as one of their own. I love traveling to new places and meeting new people, and it has been a great experience here so far."
The Lima Locos hold first place in the GLSCL going 23-11 and winning nine of their last 10. The Lima Locos are followed by a close second in the Southern Ohio Copperheads, who have two Broncos on their roster as well, T.J. Braff and Kevin George.
For the Lima Locos this summer, Steffens has posted a 2.63 ERA in 13.2 innings.
"We are extremely talented, and have been getting better and better as we have started to mesh together as teammates."
In his sophomore season for the Broncos, Steffens split time as the starting pitcher and the relief pitcher. Steffens went 2-5 with a 3.90 ERA between 16 appearances and nine starts. Steffens also posted better than a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 43 strikeouts and 13 walks in 64.2 innings.
Even with the success Steffens has been in his time with the Broncos and this summer ball season, he still stays focused on parts of his game that could be improved.
"I am always trying to get better, and summers away from home are perfect for focusing my efforts on baseball. My main goal for the summer is to maximize the consistency of all of my pitches, and to put on as much weight as I can."
The Lima Locos and the GLSCL are in their final week of summer ball play. The Lima Locos will play their final game against the Lexington Hustlers on July 27. All teams in the GLSCL are within a two-hour drive of the Lima Locos, so Steffens and the team have been traveling locally all summer long.
When Steffens is not on the field, he spends his times outdoors and spends time with both his host family and his teammates.
"Recently I went to a huge country festival called Country Concert for a day. It is a three-day music festival and 75,000 people attended. I also went to Cedar Point, which is one of the top roller coaster parks in the country. Other than that I kayak and swim in the lakes in the area and work out a lot with my teammates."
For the summer, Steffens has taken over the basement of his host family's house, who hosts a baseball player every summer.
"My host family is awesome. I have a 16-year-old sister, a 20-year-old brother and my host parents who have taken me in as part of the family. They are truly awesome people and they host baseball players every year. I am extremely grateful for everything that they have done for me."