Not that he’s one to ever complain, but Jake Skaggs won’t miss those chilly February and March games in Missouri and Kansas with temperatures in the 30s.
“There were times we had to have heaters on in the dugout and coats on in between innings,” the Ozark grad said of his of juco career at Fort Scott (Kansas) and high school days with the Tigers.
Come August, Skaggs will be bound for Abilene, Texas, to continue his career at Abilene Christian. He’s looking forward to being able to play 12 months out the year.
“That’s going to be the plan,” he said. “The weather is always nice there, so it makes it easy to play ball. I’m super excited about that.”
Skaggs is following the lead of Nixa grad Brett Hammit, who transferred to NCAA D-I Western Athletic Conference member Abilene-Christian a year ago. Hammit batted .200 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs for the Wildcats this year.
Skaggs and Hammit both played club ball growing up for the Midwest Nationals and naturally Skaggs went to Hammit for insight on Abilene-Christian.
“I was talking to Brett on and off for a couple weeks. I tried to lay off when they were doing their playoffs, so he could focus,” Skaggs said. “I like to pick at Brett’s brain because he’s a smart guy. I liked checking in on how he’s doing. He speaks highly of their program and the coaching staff. After hearing that, I’ve definitely been excited to get there.”
Skaggs committed to Abilene-Christian in May.
“Throughout the spring, we were in contact and their coach got a shot to come to Fort Scott to watch a game or two,” he said. “From there, they offered. I felt it was the right spot for me.”
Skaggs concluded his two seasons of juco ball at Fort Scott by batting .312, with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs this year. He drew 28 walks to up his on-base percentage to .458. Also, he scored 53 runs in 49 games.
As a freshman, the left-hander hit .365, with 18 homers and 60 RBIs.
Skaggs is getting an NCAA D-I chance after leaving NCAA D-II Missouri Southern his first year out of high school.
Looking back on the past three years, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself during my journey,” he said. “I’m glad it worked out the way it did because I learned a lot about myself. Everything happens for a reason. At the end of the day, it’s about the relationships you build. Whether the school you pick works out or not, it’s about the positivity you can take out of it. That’s where I’m at.”
Skaggs is in a Nationals uniform again for the sixth straight year. He’s filling in for the ‘Nats during the Show-Me Collegiate League this summer.
“Coach (Brandon Mozley) will call me in the morning and ask if I want to play,” Skaggs said. “I’m focused on the training aspect of things. But I’m happy to get some ABs to stay sharp.”
Skaggs looked into the possibility of playing full-time in a summer league, but is valuing the chance to be at home with family.
“It was meant to happen,” he said of staying home. “I never got a chance to get in a league, which was fine. Being around my Mom and my sister, that’s the biggest thing I could ever ask for.”