When the coaching staff at Eastfield College held tryouts during the summer, they held no predispositions about where their candidates for their 2012-13 squad might play. So when Weatherford grad Jered Rhodes took the mound, the staff saw the potential of adding another arm to its pitching staff, always a valuable commodity for any program.
“They really liked my velocity, and said they would work with me on my mechanics,” Rhodes said.”I guess they are going to kind of mold me into a better pitcher.”
Rhodes spent his off-mound time playing infield for the Roos, picking up the bat on a regular basis. He not only picked up the bat, he used it well, finishing the season hitting well over .400. Perhaps Eastfield will utilize Rhodes’ offensive punch at times, but they are mostly interested in developing his arm, for now.
“The Eastfield coach sat me down and said they were really interested in making a pitcher out of me,” the former Roo student-athlete said. “I’ll miss hitting because it has always been a big part of my game, but I’ll do whatever I have to do to get to the next level and help out the team.”
The quality of the Eastfield program is reinforced with a quick look at its recent history. Perennial Metro Athletic Conference champs (the last three in a row), the Harvesters also have a few national championship belts in its trophy case. The culling process at the tryouts is stringent and a callback is a good indication they have picked the talent for the next year.
“[Some programs] at the JUCO level may bring in 70 players or more, and then they will cut over half of them, which means some of those kids have wasted some of their time going through the tryout process,” Jered said. “They seem to be straight shooters at Eastfield, because they basically go through their cutting process at the tryouts.
“I’m real excited about, not just getting to play at the next level, but playing for a good program like Eastfield. They are apparently doing something right.”
Rhodes, who is interested in pursuing studies toward a sports medicine career, is happy he will enter college with familiar faces on the team, and perhaps in the classroom, as well. Weatherford baseball players hit the trifecta at the Eastfield summer tryouts, with Tyler Davis and Austin Lee also getting invites to join the Eastfield roster.
“It really is awesome to be going to Eastfield with not just one of my old teammates, but with a couple of them,” Rhodes said of his former and future teammates. I think it will be a confidence booster heading into my first semester.”
A common theme among all three of the athletes heading to the Eastfield classrooms and diamonds, Jered echoes the others that the experience as a Roo ball player spurred the move to play at the next level.
“I’d have to say Coach Massey has really pushed me to be the ball player I have become,” Jered said. “He has been around baseball his whole life. He knows the game and he knows how to teach it.
“He’s always made sure we invested our time, not only on the field, but also in the weight room. It really pays off in the long run.”