by Steve Mims
Jace Miller was ready to begin his college baseball career at Central Washington before making a late switch to the University of Portland.
The South Medford High School graduate signed with the Pilots in August and spent his first year sitting out a redshirt season.
“I couldn’t play so I took advantage of the weight room and school, getting some difficult classes out of the way,” Miller said. “I was able to practice so I fine-tuned some things. It was a good year for me, I got a lot of things done.”
Miller will play in a game for the first time in almost a year when he joins the Springfield Drifters to open the West Coast League season Friday night against Port Angeles. Tickets are on sale now for the second season of Drifters baseball at Hamlin Field.
“I am pretty stoked to get up there and start playing again,” Miller said. “It will be great to see live arms. I think it will be fun to compete against some high-level baseball players so I am just excited to go play.”
Miller will make the jump up from American Legion ball after leading the Medford Mustangs with a .511 batting average and 52 RBIs last summer. He batted.356 as a senior with the Panthers while earning honorable mention, all-state honors.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Miller is primarily a third baseman, but played shortstop at South Medford and also has experience at second base and in the outfield.
“Defensively, I have been focusing on the fundamentals to make sure I am solid,” he said. “I also spent this year putting on mass and fine tuning some things in my swing to get more consistent.”
Miller is ready to be back on the field after watching from the dugout as the Pilots went 17-10 in the West Coast Conference during the spring.
“Mentally, it wasn’t really a big thing for me to sit out, I knew it was out of my control,” he said. “I just controlled what I could control and that was my attitude and getting ready for this summer and next year. I focused on the positive aspects and took advantage of the time I had.”
Miller should have a large cheering section during Springfield’s 30 home games at beautiful Hamlin Field this summer.
“It’s not too bad of a drive from Medford, close enough for my family to make it up for games,” he said.