By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Sometimes being labeled as a “utility player” can be more of a curse than a blessing. It has the connotation of “We aren’t sure if you are really good at any position, but you seem to have a lot of different-sized gloves in your locker.”
This is the Swiss Army Knife of baseball. Utility guys can do a little bit of everything and they really come in handy when you need them.
It’s something that Centenary junior Cole Collins has gotten used to, even if it no longer truly applies.
He is listed as a “utility” player on the Gents’ website, but he has settled in at second base, which is fine with him.
“I was asked if I could play second,” Collins said. “And I said I could.”
The Gents will be at home this weekend for a three-game series against Trinity (Texas) at Shehee Stadium.
Collins, who came to Centenary after a career as a – you guessed it – utility player at Loyola College Prep, is among the top hitters for the Gents this season. He is currently batting .333 with three home runs and 14 RBI.
Last month, he was named to the Team of the Week for D3baseball.com for his performance in a four-game series against Alma College. He batted .428 with three home runs, three doubles, eight RBI, eight runs scored, three walks, and three stolen bases.
In one of the games, he had two home runs, including an inside-the-park homer.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Collins says of his big week. “I started seeing the ball better and taking better swings.”
Despite how he is listed, Collins has played only two “positions” this year – second base and designated hitter.
In high school at Loyola, he truly was a utility player, seeing action at all three outfield positions, third base, second base and catcher.
He played on Loyola teams that won 92 games during his four years with the Flyers, but Collins wasn’t ready to end his baseball career and found a spot at Centenary.
“Cole Collins is one of those kids that make this job worth it,” says former Loyola baseball coach Dusty Griffis. “His work ethic speaks for itself as he made himself into a great high school player and has gone on to excel at the collegiate level.”
“It’s been good,” Collins said of the transition from high school to Division III college baseball. “Loyola prepared me for some aspects of it and some I wasn’t prepared for. It was a little bit of a learning curve at the beginning but ever since then it’s been good. It’s about what I expected, just a different level of competition. Just the love of baseball kept hooking me in.”
Collins says there is a difference in him since he graduated from Loyola in 2019.
“I’m a lot more athletic now,” he says. “I didn’t move very well when I was at Loyola. I’ve also gotten a lot stronger. I’ve worked out a lot harder here than I did in high school.”
The Gents are 11-10 headed into the weekend series, scuffling after they dropped two of three in the opening series of Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference play against Texas Lutheran. Trinity is 10-6 overall, 3-0 in the SCAC.
“It’s been a little rocky with some ups and downs,” Collins says of the season. “But we are making our way out of it and playing better as a team as the weeks go by.”
Photo courtesy Centenary Athletics