Texan uses summer with Storm baseball team to improve | SteamboatToday.com

Texan uses summer with Storm baseball team to improve

Texan joins Storm baseball team to get better

Steamboat Storm outfielder Colton Parker is one of the most experienced players for the newly formed Mountain West Collegiate Summer Baseball League team. Texas grown
Austin Colbert

— Summers are hot in Texas.

So when Colton Parker, a native of Decatur, Texas, had a chance to spend the summer playing baseball in the Rockies instead of on the sunbaked fields of the Lone Star State, it was an easy decision.

“I played in a Texas collegiate league last summer and it’s 100 degrees every day, so I wanted to get up north,” Parker said. “It’s been fun checking out all of Colorado. Most of us haven’t ever been up here, especially in the summer.”

Parker decided to spend the summer in Steamboat Springs, where he plays left field for the Steamboat Storm. The Storm, part of the newly created Mountain West Summer Collegiate Baseball League, is a developmental team for college players.

The six-team league gives players a chance to further develop their skills on the field as opposed to waiting until fall practice gets underway.

“Goal wise, I just want a lot of at-bats. And we are getting a lot of that. We are practicing two to three times a week and we are playing games,” Parker said. “It’s a lot of baseball and a lot of fundamental stuff. Just staying ready for collegiate ball back home. Pretty much everybody is coming up here to get better.”

Parker will be a senior academically at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, in the fall, though a redshirt junior for the baseball team. He began his collegiate career at Northeast Texas Community College in Mt. Pleasant, but injuries to his shoulder led to him taking nearly a year off from the sport.

Parker joined Division III HSU last season as a redshirt sophomore, where he played in 15 games, averaging .238 at the plate. Historically a talented hitter, Parker wanted to use the summer with the Storm as a way to get his game back to a level he expects.

“Being here and getting a bunch of at-bats has really helped with the process,” Parker said. “That’s what is going to get you in the lineup. It doesn’t matter how good your fielding is for the most part. If you can swing the bat, they can find you a position.”

And so far, Parker has been one of the best weapons for the Storm’s offense. Two weeks into the five-week regular season schedule, Steamboat is 7-3 and leads the league by percentage. And Parker is a big reason why.

“He’s been one of our better bats this year,” Storm coach Matt Ellinghuysen said. “A good, solid player.”

The Storm players arrived in Steamboat Springs only two days before their June 9 openers and will return home following the double-elimination league tournament the week of July 13. They practice for a couple of hours nearly every day and play doubleheaders each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

For most of the players, deciding to join the summer league was a leap of faith, as they didn’t know much about their teammates, the town or the locals gracious enough to lend them a room for six weeks.

But two weeks in, it’s been nothing but a positive for the league-leading Steamboat Storm.

“We showed up to the field and weren’t really knowing what to expect, didn’t know anybody yet. We were here for two days before we got started and jumped right into the games,” Parker said. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to be. We are the new guys in town, so I didn’t know if everybody was going to be welcoming. But it’s been great so far. The town has really taken care of us.”

The Storm played the Rocky Mountain Oysters on Saturday in Grand Junction, winning 7-6 and losing 9-8. They play again Tuesday with a noon doubleheader at the Glenwood Geckos before returning to Steamboat for a 2:30 p.m. doubleheader Thursday against the Vail Vipers.

Home games are played at Emerald Park in Steamboat and admission is free.

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