MOLINE – While at Sherrard High School, Trace Gingerich said he took a drafting class and "fell in love'' with drawing and designing, launching a path toward a future in civil engineering.|
"Building railroads and designing,'' said Gingerich of his early drafting efforts. "I got really into it in high school in drafting class and fell in love with it.''
The Augustana College sophomore, though, has designs on another love having just as big an impact on his future – that with the Viking baseball team that is hosting this weekend's CCIW Tournament at their Swanson/Brunner complex.
The former Tiger standout, IHSCA Class 2A All-State selection and Area Player of the Year for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, has been an integral part of the Vikings' success that led them to a CCIW regular-season title for the first time in 40 years.
However, the Vikings' postseason fate now rests with an at-large bid into the NCAA Div. III Tournament which begins regional play this week. Augie, the regular-season CCIW champs, failed to defend its 2013 CCIW Tournament title this past weekend. Tournament bids are expected today.
The second-baseman has started 40 of 41 games, is batting .315 with 10 doubles, 20 RBIs and 32 runs scored. He has been a key to the bottom of the batting order, being in the middle of numerous rallies this season.
He also has played a solid infield, committing just eight errors.
Becoming an impact player this early in his collegiate career was a bit of a surprise, he admitted.
"I was just trying to get in anywhere I could by working hard,'' said the former Sherrard honor-roll student. "Luckily, this year I got a lot of playing time which helps. I improved a lot. When I'm in there, I just try to do the best I can to help the team win.''
Not even he could do that Friday as the Vikings (29-12) fell twice. Augie opened the day's play with a 12-4 loss to Illinois Wesleyan in the winners' bracket championship game. He was 1-for-4 with an RBI in the opener. Gingerich scored once in the nightcap, but the Vikings dropped an 8-4 decision to North Central in an elimination game as they were hurt by six errors that led to four unearned runs.
While Gingerich has enjoyed plenty of success this season, he goes back to last season as the start of that foundation on which his career is being built. He credits former Augie second-sacker Kurt Schmidt with showing him the lines to collegiate success.
"He was a big help for me and I learned a lot from him,'' said Gingerich of Schmidt. "Being with him everyday and seeing his work ethic and how hard he played the game. I just tried to carry that over and work as hard as possible each day. This game is all about having fun; if you have fun, good things will happen to you.''
Gingerich admitted that as much as he learned from Schmidt's style, he was equally schooled on the mental aspect of the game.
"Just his approach to the game,'' said Gingerich of what stood out about Schmidt's play. "He was always up there relaxed and not trying to do too much. Just trying to keep it simple was the biggest thing I learned from him. He was always relaxed. Even in the big pressure moments, he was nice and cool. He'd come up clutch for us, which is a big thing in this game.''
Gingerich now hopes to be the clutch second baseman for the Augustana baseball team for the next couple of weeks and years.