History in the making
Chasing records? That's just not Colin Sowers' style.
When the former North Medford High standout joined the Medford Mustangs as a regular player in the summer of 2008, his only aspirations were to play a little baseball and spend more time hanging out with his buddies.
But somewhere between those good times and more than his share of notable nights on the diamond, Sowers now finds himself smack dab in the middle of the Mustangs' record book as he wraps up his fourth regular season tonight at Harry & David Field.
"I never really thought, 'I'll be around for a long time and break a bunch of records,'" he says. "I never really saw it like that at all. My first two years I shared time with Lewis (Sebrell), and even after that I've just been happy to play (for the Mustangs)."
Time certainly has been kind to Sowers, who enters tonight's twin bill needing one double to move into a fourth-place tie on the team's career list and, in turn, reach his third top-five honor as a Mustang. The 5-foot-10, 192-pounder already stands third in career walks (94) and fifth in runs scored (190).
"It's really kind of cool for me," says Sowers. "If you look at the list of the people who have all the records, it's all the people you know about and have been around and have wanted to be like and play like. It's really cool to know I'm among those guys. I feel pretty special, actually, because it's not every day you get to be on a list of Mustang greats."
Should Medford be able to extend its season with potential runs to the regional tournament or beyond, Sowers could tack on two more career honors. Despite hitting in the leadoff spot, the 19-year-old has 136 RBIs and is only 11 behind Logan Boyd, who is sixth on the list. Sowers' 194 hits places him 26 behind Jared Pruitt, who is fifth with 220.
"That all depends on how far we go this season, but that's not really a goal of mine," says Sowers. "If it happens, it happens, but it wasn't like when I started the season I was out to get into the record books. You can't really sit there and say I want to walk all the time or score runs because that's just not the way it works. You go out and play hard and everything else kinda takes care of itself."
Such an attitude has definitely rubbed off on his teammates, says Mustangs manager Nate Mayben.
"Colin's by far our leader," says Mayben, whose team has already clinched the Area 4 title and an automatic bid to the state tourney. "He's a guy that never is too high, never is too low. He's always confident and always knows what he needs to do. He knows the game very well and always seems to be in the right place at the right time."
Of all his achievements, Sowers says he's most proud of the career walks and runs scored, but for completely different reasons.
"Walks is probably the one I like the most because I feel like it shows that I'm a better hitter," he says, "but at the same time, runs scored is good, too, because that's the one that helps your team the most and is more respectable in a way."
Drawing so many walks in his career certainly wasn't expected, especially since Sowers admits to being one who doesn't mind taking a swipe at a first pitch every now and then.
"I think it's something I've developed into," says Sowers, who has transitioned from catcher to center fielder with the Mustangs. "I've been around this kind of pitching for a while so I think my eye for the ball has really developed a lot and that helps. When you can tell if one of those close pitches is going to be a strike or a ball, it really helps."
As for the doubles mark, Sowers says longevity has been the biggest factor.
"I think doubles is a little bit different for me because that's kind of just because I've been around more than I've been a doubles machine," he says. "When you connect, you connect, and I've had a lot of chances."
Sowers views his run total as a sign of the great players he's had the good fortune of calling teammates. Sure, his walk and hit totals put him on base a lot, but the rest is up to them.
"Other guys have to hit me in or that doesn't happen," he says. "The fact that I have so many runs scored shows how good our team has been in my era, which is awesome. I've been able to score so many runs because of the guys behind me."
Sowers also credits the Mustang managers during his time — Mayben and Sandee Kensinger — for allowing him the opportunity to play. While that may seem simple, Sowers learned firsthand what a gift playing time can be during a relatively obscure freshman campaign this past spring at the University of Portland.
Coming off all-star runs with the Black Tornado and the Mustangs, Sowers managed to get into only two games with the Pilots — and that was only for two at-bats. For someone who has always seen his name toward the top of any team list, Sowers finished second from the bottom with his 0-for-1 total with one walk and one run scored.
"I was kinda just a guy," says Sowers. "I wasn't even in a supporting role, I was a supporting fan I'd say more or less."
"It was kinda disheartening during the season because I felt like I didn't prove myself and could've done better," he adds. "That was one of the rougher seasons I've been through. It's kinda been motivation (for this summer), after not really playing at all you want to come out and get things going again."
Sowers says he plans to use his first run at Portland as a learning experience and expects to be better prepared for his sophomore campaign.
"Now that I've done it once, I know what I have to do and when I have to prove it," he says. "I came in and didn't slack but I also didn't get hits when I needed to and realize when it was important to, like in the fall scrimmages."
While he didn't have the athletic experience he had envisioned as a Pilot, Sowers says the academic part more than made up for it and left him even more confident that he had made the right selection.
"It's a great place and really suits my personality and what I like at a school," says Sowers, who switched his focus from biology to mathematics. "It's a great size and has a lot of great people."
That last comment might as well go for his time with the Mustangs.
"Every single summer with the Mustangs is a blast," he says. "If I had to pick one that was the best I'd have to pick the one where we went to the World Series (2009), but as far as people I've been around and how much fun I've had in general, I couldn't pick one over another because they've all been awesome."
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or email email@example.com. Follow him at facebook.com/krishenryMT or twitter.com/Kris_Henry