HORNELL, N.Y. – After a successful spring with the Hanover College baseball team, Andrew Littlefield (Louisville, Ky.) is displaying his talents this summer in the New York Collegiate Baseball League.
Littlefield, who recently completed his first year with the Blue and Red, a season where he was named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, is a member of the Hornell Dodgers club this summer. With his efforts, the Dodgers are currently 7-3-1 overall and battling for a playoff spot in the Western Division.
Littlefield has performed for the Dodgers both at the plate and on the mound. As a batter, the incoming sophomore is hitting .290 with three extra-base hits and seven runs batted in. His runs driven in total is tied for second on the team and ranks among league leaders as well.
On the mound, Littlefield currently holds the league's top earned run average, 0.82. He has started two games on the mound, going 6.0 and 5.0 innings, respectively, scattering just five hits and allowing one run. Littlefield added a season-best seven strikeouts in a no decision back on June 7.
As a freshman for the Panthers, Littlefield posted the best batting average among first-year players in the HCAC, hitting .342. He added four home runs and 21 runs scored as well. Behind a conference-leading seven sacrifice flies, which ranked 13th across NCAA Division III, Littlefield paced Hanover with 26 RBI. He also saw time on the mound, pitching 34.1 innings over seven starts and posting a strikeout-per-nine-inning rate of 6.33.
The NYCBL, founded in 1978, is a summer wood bat development league for collegiate athletes. Players come from all levels of collegiate baseball, including all three NCAA divisions, as well as the NAIA. Notable current Major League Baseball players who are alums of the NYCBL are Rajai Davis (New York Mets), Mike Fiers (Oakland A's), JD Martinez (Boston Red Sox) and Hunter Pence (Texas Rangers). Davis was a member of the Hornell Dodgers, a club that has six league championships, back in 2000.
Below is a question and answer session completed with Littlefield. To follow the Hanover baseball player throughout the summer, visit the links above.
Q1: How did you hear about this opportunity?
AL: I asked Coach Bellak in the fall about summer baseball opportunities and at first he informed me about playing legion baseball in Louisville. However, after my freshman season, Coach Bellak asked if I wanted to play in the NYCBL. I am not sure how Coach Bellak found out about the league but Coach Conner, our assistant coach, played in the league two years ago. After talking with my family, I knew this was an experience I couldn't turn down especially since Coach Bellak found me this amazing opportunity. So I decided to go and am glad I did. It's great knowing I have coaches who are finding me opportunities that will improve my skills as a baseball player and also have a family that will help me on my journey too.
Q2: What has your experience been like this summer?
AL: I could not have gotten luckier with my host family. The Crosby family has taken in Austin (my roommate) and I as one of their own. Mrs. Crosby makes delicious dinners and we are always invited to their family gatherings. Also, it's cool experiencing what I would think is the schedule of a professional baseball player. Everyday, I wake up early to go work on my swing in the cage and complete my pitcher workouts (bands, plyoballs, mechanics, etc.) Then I go to the gym to workout and have a break in between before it's time to get ready for our game later that night. My favorite part is helping out the Hornell community. For example, the other day we went to the challenger game which is a baseball game for kids with special needs and helped out the kids. Another day, a couple teammates and I went to a local elementary school and served the kids ice cream. Also after our games, kids will come up to us and ask for our autographs. This just shows that baseball is more than a game.
In terms of competition, I'm facing players from all collegiate levels of baseball from D3 to NAIA to D1. There are good players at every level. Offensively, the biggest change is consistently seeing pitchers throw mid to high 80's while some touch 90, whereas during my college season we would consistently see low 80's. Making minor changes to my approach has helped me adjust to the velocity. Defensively, executing pitches and keeping the ball low is even more important when facing tougher competition. I'm not going to blow my fastball by guys; I'm going to get them out by having movement and keeping them off balance.
Q3: What have you learned/improved upon during your first few weeks with the Hornell Dodgers that you can bring back with you to Hanover next year?
AL: Coach Oney is a great pitching coach who has really helped me on the mound so far. The biggest thing was my mindset. Last season on the mound, I was trying to do too much. I was trying to throw 100% every time and this led to less control which is one of the reasons why I had a lot of walks. Now my mindset is to not do more but rather be smooth and repeat my mechanics. Also, Oney is helping me to develop a cutter which is a tighter off-speed pitch designed to miss barrels. Similar to defense, I was trying to do too much on offense too. During my season at HC, I was too aggressive and would swing at pitches out of my zone. Coach Schaffner has reminded me to be patient and swing at pitches in my zone.
Q4: Reflect back on your first year at Hanover College.
AL: Although we didn't reach our team goal, I enjoyed my freshman year at HC. I am so grateful for the coaching staff with Coach Bellak, Coach Conner, Coach Makin, and the training staff. All of these people work so hard to make sure the student-athletes have all the resources available to take their game to the next level. Also my teammates are like my brothers and I can't wait to welcome the incoming freshmen into the Hanover baseball family just like the upperclassmen did for my class. I am looking forward to returning on campus in the fall to work hard in the classroom, on the field, and in the weight room to make next season a success.