By Mac Christie, Times-Advocate Staff
ZURICH – Zurich’s Colin Gingerich is honing his baseball skills this season with the Ontario Outlaws baseball team, with an eye to furthering his baseball career.
It’s the 5′ 7″ catcher’s first year with the Outlaws, a premier select team based out of Guelph, after spending the previous two seasons with Stratford’s Ontario Nationals.
“The group of guys are great and the coaching there (in Guelph) is just great,” Gingerich told the Times-Advocate recently. “Our coach played at the college level in the States, so there’ s a lot of knowledge there.”
Coach Kirk McNab previously coached Gingerich in Stratford before starting the Outlaws program this year.
“The program is focused on having athletes move forward in baseball,” McNab explained. “Hopefully we can get them to carry on and be able to play at the Canadian or U.S. (college) level and get an education, while still playing the game they love.”
Gingerich is currently a Grade 12 student at St. Anne’s Catholic Secondary School in Clinton. Next year he plans to attend Humber College in Toronto, getting a degree in criminal justice studies and a diploma in police foundations, all while playing baseball.
“It’s a good fit for him academically and baseball wise,” McNab said, noting playing college baseball in the United States is an option in the future.
This season Gingerich will catch every other game for the Outlaws in preparation for a college campaign, but will also make some starts at second base, a new position for the 18 year old.
McNab said Gingerich is an excellent hitter who is still honing his defensive skills.
“He’s got tremendously explosive hands,” McNab said of the left-handed hitter.
“That’s tough to teach, but it’s great for hitting. His defensive skills as far as catching goes are always improving, as is his arm strength.”
For his part Gingerich, who said he’s been playing organized baseball since he was 10, noted there are always things to work on in his game.
“You always have to be taking repetitions of swings or throwing and improving your arm strength,” he explained. “I’ve always tried to do that.”
Playing with the Outlaws is a travel commitment for Gingerich, with practices every Thursday night in Guelph and games anywhere from Burlington to Welland.
It also meant a longer trip, to Florida during March Break for spring training with the team.
Gingerich said the trip was a great experience, getting into some outdoor baseball early in the season. The team met some good competition, facing teams from Florida, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.
“In the States baseball is like our hockey in Canada,” Gingerich explained. “You run into faster players, better throwers.
“In Florida you have guys playing 11 or 12 months of the year.”
While Gingerich is the only player on the team from the South Huron region, McNab said players from this area are fantastic to work with.
“They bring a fantastic work ethic and they don’t come in with a chip on their shoulder,” he explained. “They’re approachable and they’re teachable.”
While he will play for Humber next season, Gingerich said he’s still open to playing south of the border in the future, noting he just wants to continue to play baseball.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” McNab agreed. “He can go as far as he wants to.”