Nixa grad Brett Hammit takes pride in the exceptional stretch of producing NCAA D-I players that the Eagles’ baseball program is enjoying.
“It’s awesome the way the program has blown up,” he said. “Every year Nixa has somebody going D-I.”
Hammit hopes he will once again be part of that trend in a year, after his freshman season at juco power JeffCo. He’s transferring from Nebraska to play for the Vikings.
“I told (JeffCo) I’m looking for somewhere to play for one year, that’s the plan,” Hammit said.
Hammit committed to Nebraska during his sophomore year at Nixa, but left the Cornhuskers without playing a game for them. His decision to transfer stemmed from the resignation of coach Darin Erstad.
“That played a part in it,” Hammit said. “You go in thinking a certain coach is going to be there. Then, it ends up not being that way. It affected a lot of people on the team. I don’t know how many players from this year are going to be there next year.
“(Transferring) was not an easy decision to make at all,” he added. “At the end of the day, you have to look out for your best interests. In a way, you have to be selfish about it and do whatever is best for you. You only get to spend so much time playing.”
Hammit is happy he made the decision not to play for Nebraska and opt for a red-shirt freshman season. But being around the Cornhuskers’ program confirmed in his mind he wants to be part of a D-I team again.
“Some guys decided not to red-shirt and got only about 10 at-bats this year,” Hammit said. “Now, they don’t have that extra year of eligibility I have. For 10 at-bats, it’s not worth it.
“It was awesome,” he added while summing up his experience at Nebraska. “You see what it’s like to be somewhere where you have all the support you need. You get everything you need as far as accommodations to make sure you can perform.”
When starting the whole recruiting process all over again, Hammit also considered jucos Grayson (Texas), Chipola (Florida), Central Arizona and John A. Logan (Illinois).
“I talked to a wide variety of schools,” he said. “In the end, JeffCo is right at home and it’s a great program. Why not go there?”
Hammit is comforted by having a familiar face at JeffCo in Glendale grad Josh Bunselmeyer, the Vikings’ hitting coach.
“I know Josh very well because my brother (Brock) grew up with him,” Brett said. “I don’t think there is any way I can do better than to go play under Josh for a year, help JeffCo go to Grand Junction (Colorado) and win (the NJCAA) World Series.”
Hammit, who hit .451 as a junior and .446 as a senior at Nixa, decided on individual training this summer, rather than playing in the Show-Me Collegiate League.
“I have a lot of friends who are playing in the league,” he said. “But I was focused more on what I can do to get better overall than game reps. I’ve been able to lean up. I’ve gotten a little thinner while adding more muscle. A lot of people go into college feeling the need to put on weight. I felt I was already big enough. But I knew if I wanted to play shortstop, I needed to lose about 10 pounds and gain lean muscle.”
Hammit started the summer in Seattle training at DriveLine Baseball, a data-driven player development facility.
“They have a lot of resources to track player development,” he said. “The past couple of years or so technology has really been implemented. At first, people were reluctant to use it. Now in the minors, you see guys having in-game blast motion sensors.
“DriveLine is known more for pitching than hitting, but they train a lot of guys, including pros like (the Indians') Trevor Bauer. It’s a multi-million dollar company that has grown the last few years. It’s all data driven, so there are no guesses. Everything is tracked and built around developing.
“It was great meeting a bunch of people with an open mindset like (myself),” he added. “You always have to strive to get better. If you’re not trying to get better, you’ll get stagnant and get passed up.”