By John Bombatch
XENIA — To say Nick Massey has made the transition to college baseball with relative ease would be an understatement.
The Beavercreek High School graduate, now a freshman on the nationally ranked Sinclair Community College Tartans baseball team, worked hard over the off season, and now he’s beating up baseballs.
Massey describes himself as a slap hitter. The guy in the lineup who makes contact with a pitch, and then lets his feet do the work in order to get on base. Lately, Massey has been making fellow slap hitters proud.
Through 13 games, Massey, leads the Tartans regular starters with a .444 (16 for 36) batting average. Slap hitters will do that.
But he’s also second on the team in home runs (4), runs batted in (14) and runs scored (15), and leads the team in hits with 16.
“I think the big thing with Nick is that he’s prepared very well (during the off season). He’s put himself in this position. He did a really good job in the fall and the winter, and he won this starting job,” Sinclair coach Steve Dintaman said. “If you’re in this lineup and you’re playing every day, you obviously should have a lot of confidence because there are so many good players on this team. … He’s having fun, he’s giving us great at-bats. He’s really one of our better freshmen.”
Sinclair entered this past weekend as the National Junior College Athletic Association’s eighth-ranked team in their preseason poll. They hosted a four-game series with no. 6-rated Kellogg (Mich.) Community College, Friday and Saturday at Grady’s Field on the Athletes In Action campus in Xenia, and the Tartans claimed three of the four games.
With those wins, chances are the Tartans should move up when the next NJCAA baseball poll is released later this month. Sinclair is now 12-1 this season, with the only loss coming in the opener with Kellogg on Friday.
Massey was a first-team all-Greater Western Ohio Conference, Central Division selection last Spring as a senior at Beavercreek as an infielder.
Not known for his power (he had one varsity home run with the Beavers), Massey had three homers in a March 8 game against Muskegon Community College. Massey went 3-for-3 with a walk, three home runs and six RBIs in Sinclair’s 12-8 win.
As a starting right fielder for the Tartans, Massey homered in Sinclair’s 10-2 win over Kellogg on Friday, singled once in each of the Tartan’s wins on Saturday, and drove in two runs in Saturday’s second game.
“I’m just feeling it, I don’t know,” Massey laughed. “I’m seeing the ball and hitting the ball. I don’t try to do too much.”
He says the quality of pitching (as compared to what he faced in high school) has helped him know what to expect as a batter.
“I know that they’re going to throw the ball across or around the plate, and I just try to capitalize on their mistakes,” he said. “I think it’s all clicking right now, but it’s all a team effort out there.”
Where high school players might be around each other for three months, Massey said he likes being around the same group of ball players for an extended amount of time.
“It’s more of a family feeling. I’ve been around these guys for about 6-7 months now. You get an idea of what everyone has to work with, and it’s just fun,” Massey said, as a couple players made faces at him while he was doing the interview. “I love this team. It’s the best team I’ve ever played for. I love every single guy, and I can’t wait to see what we can do.”
Sinclair has a scheduled road game at Danville (Ill.) Area Community College today. The Tartans’ next home contest at AIA’s Grady’s Field in Xenia will be at 3 p.m. Saturday against Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College. The two teams are also scheduled to play at 11 a.m. Saturday, also at Grady’s Field.