The way Ty Maxie, Seth Borden and Ian Martin were hitting the baseball in March, they said they really hated to see their college seasons come to an end because of the COVID-19 pandemic
Maxie is a junior at Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois, Martin is a sophomore at Vincennes University and Borden is a freshman at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. All three Brownstown Central High School graduates are right-handed batters.
Maxie and the Panthers got off to a slow start.
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“We lost our first five games, and I had a terrible start,” he said. “Then we went down to Florida and won five of six games.”
The Panthers were 1-7-1 before they headed to Florida and were 5-8-1 when the season came to an end prematurely.
“We were really rolling when the season got cut off,” Maxie said. “I had a hit in every game that I started in Florida. I started all except three games this season. I started about 10 games my freshman year and about 20 games my sophomore year.”
He said he had to prepare himself to face strong pitching every contest.
“In every game, there was no soft pitching like there was in high school,” Maxie said. “We played three games a week, and it was a lot of fun traveling to our away games. It made school harder, but it was a lot of fun.”
Maxie had played in 10 games this spring, starting at second base, and was hitting second, where he was 6-for-26 with two doubles, six walks and four RBI.
The Panthers beat Loras College 6-2 in their final game, and Maxie was 4-for-4 with a walk and two RBI.
Maxie said he enjoyed playing home games last year and was looking forward to the home schedule this spring.
“They fixed up our field before my sophomore year, and it was really nice,” he said.
The Panthers were just about to start play in a Florida event when word came their season was over.
“We were in Auburndale, Florida, getting to play in a tournament when our season got canceled,” Maxie said. “We went ahead and played that game, and it was a lot of fun.”
Maxie said that was the conclusion of his play at Greenville because he plans to attend chiropractic school in St. Louis this fall.
Martin was splitting the catching duties with two other players at Vincennes. The Trailblazers were 10-5 when their season ended.
He played in five games and was 2-for-6 for an average of .333. Martin collected two RBI, scored four runs and had two walks. He led the team in the hit-by-pitch category with five.
“I was seeing the ball real well this spring,” Martin said. “I was doing a lot better than I did my freshman year. I was hitting the breaking ball pretty well.”
Getting better involves practice.
“Playing baseball was a lot of work, but it was worth it,” Martin said. “I like that you are constantly involved in the game. There is not much downtime.”
Martin said it took a lot of preparation.
“We studied what batters were hitting what pitches and just made sure our pitchers were pitching around guys that hit the ball hard,” he said.
The caliber of hitters in college was higher than in high school, and everyone could hit, he said.
“In high school, you knew who the good hitters were and who the power hitters were,” Martin said. “In college, the nine hole can hit a home run.”
For now, Martin is working at his father’s machine shop in Freetown.
“I’ll try to get some experience at different places,” he said. “I want to get my bachelor’s degree.”
Borden was in the lineup for College of DuPage in the suburbs of Chicago.
The Chaparrals went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for a spring trip and fared well at 6-3. They were preparing for the start of their regular season when the season was suspended.
Borden was hitting .400 (8-for-20) with six runs scored. He had five RBI, two home runs, two doubles and a triple. Both home runs came in the same game against North Hampton Community College in a 17-5 win.
After playing shortstop, he was moved to third base this spring and did some relief pitching, appearing in two games on the mound with 1.2 innings of work. His stats read one hit allowed and no runs with three strikeouts and one walk.
Moving up a level of competition is always a challenge, he said.
“College baseball is a different speed, and it’s a different atmosphere up there. All the guys want to get to the next level (the pros), and they all take it more serious,” he said. “It’s a whole new group guys to have fun with. I got to learn a lot about baseball from my college coaches and their knowledge of the game. All except one of my coaches played college baseball. They’re young and they know how to get their point across.”
Borden said he hopes to play ball with an area team while at home.
“I’ll try to play as much baseball as I can,” he said. “Baseball is my favorite sport. I need to work on my fundamentals defensively.”
He said in the meantime, he will take batting practice with family, friends or whoever he can find to pitch to him.