XENIA — The Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League is another chance on the field at development for college baseball players. Members of the Xenia Scouts also are looking to create tight memories and bonds off the diamond.
Players from all levels, including NCAA Division I through NAIA and junior colleges, compete in the league sanctioned by Major League Baseball and come from all over the country. It brings about a unique situation to stand alongside guys they haven’t been playing with after a quick turnaround from their respective college seasons.
The distractions of everyday life are minimized though with players getting fresh slates of staying with local host families and not having their studies take up as much of their attention.
“They just get to focus on baseball,” Scouts’ head coach Tim Cole said. “You don’t have to focus on school, family and other things. They’re just here working on baseball, and then we work really hard at developing as young men.”
Despite coming from different teams, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some players from closer to Xenia on this year’s Scouts team. Tuesday’s starter, Parker Newby, attends the University of Toledo and Jacob Wells hails from Hilliard. The closest tie comes via Kyle Lane, a Xenia High School graduate, who is in his second year with the team.
Garrett DeClue attends the University of the Cumberlands and recently tossed the Scouts’ first no-hitter in its existence. He has been one of the top performers on the mound and is the reigning GLSCL pitcher of the week after his stellar seven inning game.
In his second year as a member of the Scouts, Garrett has his younger brother Grant joining him this year. While Garrett is looking forward to continue working on his skills and spiritual side, getting another chance to join Grant was a key motivational factor in returning.
“I wasn’t planning on coming here until pretty late, but with my younger brother on the team, I thought it would be nice to get to spend a summer with him,” Garrett said.
Also returning for his second year is Jarrett Eaton. The senior from the University of South Florida made a late decision to come back for another summer after reflecting on his experience in 2021.
He said going through the motions of getting settled in didn’t allow him to get the full effect of what the league and Athletes in Action are fully about last year. With an understanding of what the season would be like, he said he can get more out of the road trips, meals and overall time spent with teammates.
“I was just so focused on going home to be honest with you,” Eaton said of 2021. “And so I got to reflect a little bit and I was like, I would really like to come back and you know, get everything that this has to offer.”
Part of that experience is also taking in the core values of Athletes in Action. Cole said the team goes through discipleship five times per week while going through similar rigors of a big league daily schedule.
“We talk a lot about not settling and going after what God has for you for that day,” Cole said. “God’s best and that’s who we are at Athletes in Action. … They’re learning how not to be individuals, they’re learning how to be teammates. and that’s been pretty special.”
The fun off the field is shifting within the diamond as well. The Scouts found themselves in last place within the South Division of the GLSCL just a week ago.
A seven-game winning streak began and the team is now tied for the best overall record in the league over the last 10 games played and have only reigning league champion Hamilton Joes standing in front of them in the standings.
With 14 of the team’s final 22 games to be played at Grady’s Field at Athletes in Action, including a doubleheader on Thursday which includes a suspended game played to completion, the Scouts believe they are well equipped as a team from the early road trip bonding moments to compete.
Continuing to win can create a tighter group, but Eaton said no matter how the season players out, he is looking forward in the future to reflecting back on the times spent with the group during the journey.
“We won’t always remember wins and losses,” he said, “but if something funny happened or something else goes on, 30 years from now we will have that memory and it’s pretty cool.”