Hayden Leopold earned a starting spot for the University of Houston-Victoria baseball team as a freshman.
The Columbus High School graduate started 12, second most among the freshmen, of the team’s 14 games before play was suspended. The second baseman played alongside upperclassmen in the field for most of the season.
Leopold said his performance during the fall left him encouraged about the spring season. “I had a good feeling I was going to get a good amount of playing time,” he said.
Though he played shortstop, his natural position, during the fall, he said second base has been “a perfect fit.”
He hit .231 with five runs batted in. He had a four-game hitting streak during February and had two multihit games. Most recently, he hit his lone double and singled in four at-bats against Wiley.
He tweaked his batting approach, including the timing mechanism of his lead foot, after a slow offensive start. “I wasn’t getting my foot down early enough,” he said. “I was drifting.”
Leopold wasn’t driving the ball with authority the way he has in the past, so he repositioned his hands. “I started my hands back farther, and it helped out tremendously. On my load, I wasn’t coming back enough to get power,” he said. “We wanted to turn singles into doubles.”
He had a .953 fielding percentage in 64 chances, fourth most on the team. He had a hand in a team-high 11 of the squad’s 16 double plays, which he called “pretty exciting.”
As of last week, he wasn’t sure about his summer baseball plans.
Because of an injury that required surgery, offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle did not play for the Buffalo Bills the past season. As of March 18, the former Cardinal was among Buffalo’s 12 unrestricted free agents.
Rice Consolidated graduate Trey Benton III finished second in bull riding at a Bay City event and earned $1,114. The Rock Island resident ranked 20th in bull riding in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association/RAM World standings as of March 18, with $19,247.85 in earnings.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at jdanddoc@ gmail.com.