At the bottom of the third inning, Nick Allen of the Alexandria Aces cocked his elbow and shifted his feet. He was at bat with two strikes and looking to continue his season of success. Staring down the pitcher, Allen took a hard swing and sent the ball into right field for a single. A few minutes later, he also stole second base.
Although this is the standout’s first year playing in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, Allen was the league’s leading batter with an average of .373 entering the July 7 contest against the Bethesda Big Train. The New Jersey native started playing ball at the age of 6 and has never stopped.
What’s surprising about Allen’s performance is the way he handles wooden bats, which are generally considered more difficult to hit with than metal. Previous summer leagues have helped Allen improve with a wooden bat along with 30 minutes to an hour of batting practice each day.
Allen is a rising sophomore at George Mason University and he said his transition to college ball was slightly challenging.
"The pace of the game is a lot faster and the two extra innings in college elongate the game and require more mental preparation," Allen said. "Cal Ripken has definitely helped me improve."
On Allen’s abilities, head coach Eric Williams said "he is a good, quality hitter, he’s got some good speed and he’s got some good baseball sense. Those three things help him quite a bit in the batter’s box."
In the meantime Allen is "getting the batting reps in" and "practicing on [his] kink." He hopes to have a successful college career at George Mason and "if the best comes" he wants to "get drafted and go play some Pro ball."