By Matt Schneidman
July 6, 2014
On Thursday, Ian Rice (Chipola College) blocked a ball in the dirt with his Adam’s apple.
All season, he has shown grit and mobility behind the plate, but it was his performance at it that opened eyes on Sunday.
The catcher went 4-for-4, raising his season average 94 percentage points with the four singles. He also added two RBIs and thoroughly impressed head coach Mike Roberts in Cotuit’s (9-12-1) 5-5 tie with Harwich (13-8-1) at Lowell Park on Sunday night.
“He had one of those really good days, Roberts said. “He had a great day and you congratulate him.”
Last Sunday, Rice assumed the full-time starting role behind the plate over Casey Schroeder, who has since been released. Up until that point, Rice was batting .182 on a 4-for-22 clip, hitless in his last 10 at-bats. It looked as if Schroeder would be the one to stay.
But since then, he has totaled six hits and become a force in the Kettleers’ lineup, unlike the presence he had at the beginning of the season.
Rice has gone back and studied his at-bats, noticing one area that he has changed in order to produce exponentially more.
“I was just looking at my films from previous games,” Rice said. “I was noticing my head was going all over the place, so I just tried to be aggressive and keep my head still and it worked out well.”
Although the newly-acquired Tres Barrera (Texas) is an outstanding defensive catcher and swings for significant power, Roberts said the two will rotate behind the plate.
On Sunday, Rice showed why he’s more than worthy of being in the lineup, ripping singles in the second, fourth, seventh and ninth innings.
In his first three at-bats, Rice faced lefties Jared Poche (LSU) and Zack Erwin (Clemson), which Roberts said gave Rice a distinct edge.
“He hits left-handers really well,” Roberts said. “I like him against left-handed pitching.”
And although he may only play every other game, the soon-to-be Houston Cougar was a big reason Cotuit was able to avoid a fourth-straight loss on Sunday.
“We need everybody to have a good day,” Roberts said. “But did he really swing the bat well? Yeah he swung the bat really well.”