Jon Scott will long remember getting the initial hit of his Bryant University baseball career.
Scott, a former Princeton Day School standout catcher, pounded out an RBI single in a 12-1 win over Harvard on April 7, 2011.
“That was real exciting; getting that first hit was a good feeling,” said Scott. “My teammates were all cheering for me.”
But there weren’t many other cheers for Scott that spring as the single marked the only hit of a tough freshman campaign.
“I really wasn’t ready to play at that level,” said Scott. “I was not in the best shape. It was really frustrating because I knew I could do it.”
Scott used that frustration to fuel an arduous training regimen last summer.
“I knew what I had to do to get better,” said Scott, who played in only three games and had one other at-bat besides his appearance in Harvard game.
“Ike Ballard is my trainer and Mike Halpern also helped. They helped get me in the best playing shape. I did weightlifting, cardio and stretching. They helped me with everything, including nutrition.”
That work paid dividends as Scott hit .255 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 29 games this spring, helping Bryant win the Northeast Conference (NEC) regular season title.
Upon arriving on campus for his sophomore year, Scott could feel the difference.
“I was in much better shape; I knew I could end up starting some games if I played well,” said Scott. “I played well in the fall, the coaching staff helped me.”
Scott got the first start of his career against Liberty on in mid-March and made the most of it as he helped the Bulldogs to a 6-2 win.
“The start against Liberty was a good moment,” recalled Scott. “I had a lot of adrenaline; they are a top team. I hit a homer against them.”
Another big moment for Scott came in a 4-3 loss to Monmouth in early May.
“I also had a homer against Monmouth,” recalled Scott. “They didn’t recruit me and I was a New Jersey player so that meant a lot.”
Playing behind senior star Mike Delponte helped Scott learn the ropes of catching at the college level.
“That helped me a lot; it really made me want to play,” added Scott. “I learned a lot watching how he handled things.”
Scott handled his position well, ending up with a fielding percentage of 1.000, making no errors in 110 chances and throwing out six-of-14 runners attempting to steal.
“I take a lot of pride in my defense,” said Scott. “I like being a good defensive catcher and helping the pitchers.”
For Scott, being behind the plate when the Bulldogs clinched the NEC title with a sweep of Wagner in mid-May was the major highlight of his sophomore campaign.
“I think catching the final game when we won the conference title was a great memory,” said Scott, reflecting on a spring that saw Bryant go 33-21 overall and 24-8 in league play.
“Our team worked hard; we knew we could do it. There were a ton of fans there. It was great seeing that last groundout and being in the dog pile when we won.”
In Scott’s view, Bryant could be seeing some more celebrations in the near future.
“We have won the conference two of the last three years and hopefully we can win it again,” said Scott, noting that the program will be eligible to play in the NCAA tournament next year as it completes a transition to Division I from Division II.
“We have a ton of young talent and the head coach [Steve Owens] knows how to win. We are excited to keep working hard.”
It was exciting for Scott to see his hard work pay off this spring. “I always knew I could play,” said Scott. “It just came down to proving that and I did.”
As he looks ahead to the final two years of his college carer, Scott knows he can do even better.
“I want to focus on just having fun and enjoying my teammates and the games,” said Scott, who is honing his skills this summer by playing for the Mohawk DiamondDawgs in the Perfect Game Collegiate League in upstate New York.
“I want to be the best catcher in the conference which is something I can do. I want to help the team win as many games as possible and be up there with the top teams in New England. We can definitely compete with those teams.”
And after the progress he made as a sophomore, there is no question that Scott can compete at the D-I level.