By Daniel L. Chamness
Eastland graduate Brett Swalve, like many spring-sports athletes at Rock Valley College, wishes he had more than 15 games to prove himself this season on the baseball field.
But what a 15 games it was for the sophomore catcher, who will suit up for Mount Mercy University next year. Swalve, who played in 13 games, finished with a .389 batting average.
"I chose Mount Mercy University, because of the proximity to home," said Swalve. "I had a chance to play Division I, but wanted to stay close to home.
“I have been working out in a facility in my hometown. They have everything I need in order to prepare for next season. They have a full cage and and a weight room. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to use their facilities."
In 36 trips to the plate, he had 14 hits, three of which were doubles and one was a homer. He walked eight times, scored five times, drove in three runs and stole two bases. With his walks and hits, he finished with an on-base percentage of .500. He has a slugging percentage of .556.
"Each of the years at Rock Valley, I have started the season hot," Swalve said. "I started hot, because of the preseason training our coaches did with us. We all got at least 50 live at-bats against our own pitching staff during the winter months, indoors. To have those at-bats under my belt before the season started was huge.
“I personally am happy with my batting average, but I was more concerned with the team aspect of the stats. We lost a couple of close ball games on the trip that could have gone our way."
Defensively, he has made 59 putouts, 15 assisted putouts and three errors for a fielding percentage of .961. ...
Swalve was just one one of the local athletes on the Rock Valley team. Tegan Woods (Freeport), Cole Luedeking (Aquin), Zac Cummins (Aquin), Ethan Christians (Eastland) Trey Meile (Freeport) and Cory Simpson (West Carroll) all logged time for RVC, which finished 6-9.
Woods, who played in 13 games, had a .333 batting average. He had three doubles and one homer. He walked eight times, drove in seven runs, scored five runs and stole four bases. He finished with an on-base percentage of .455 and a slugging percentage of .515. He had a fielding percentage of .939.
Luedeking had a .286 batting average in 12 games. He had 10 hits (two doubles) in 35 trips to the plate. He also had 10 RBIs, eight runs scored, seven walks and six stolen bases. He finished with an on-base percentage of .395 and a slugging percentage of .343. He had a .889 fielding percentage.
Cummings posted a 2-2 pitching record. In 9 innings of work, he allowed four earned runs on seven hits for a 4.00 earned run average. He fanned 15 batters and walked eight.
Christians was 1-1 with a 3.38 earned run average. In 21 1/3 innings of work, he allowed eight earned runs on 22 hits. The former Eastland player struck out 21 batters and walked eight. He played in five games and made four starts.
Meile played in seven games and had five hits, one of which was a double and one a homer. He drove in seven runs, scored three times and walked twice. He had an .818 fielding percentage.
Simpson threw 1.0 inning. He allowed one hit, walked four and struck out one.
Ben Swords (Freeport) finished his junior season at Webster University with a .354 batting average. The 13-game starter, who made 48 trips to the plate, had 17 hits (two doubles, one triple). He also had 17 RBIs, seven walks, seven stolen bases and five runs scored. He had an on-base percentage of .426 and a slugging percentage of .438. Defensively, he had a fielding percentage of .894. Webster finished 8-5.
This is the last College Report of the school year. I will now pivot and start doing career-completion stories. If your son/daughter is from The Journal-Standard readership area and they finished their career during the 2019-2020 school year, please email me their name. Put "Freeport Journal-Standard" in the subject line of the e-mail.
Daniel L. Chamness is a freelance correspondent.