New recruit gets out of Dodge
SAGU signs third-baseman, Collin Gifford
Lions lasso Dodge City, Kansas standout
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team is filling openings faster than a paczki* baker before Fat Thursday.
New Head Coach Sam Blackmon's summer haul on the recruiting circuit added another key player with the signing of Collin Gifford. He is a 5-foot-11 third-baseman and pitcher from Dodge City High School.
Daniel Rogers, a veteran prep coach, was full of praise for Gifford.
“I am excited for Collin and his decision to attend SAGU,” he said recently. “Collin has worked hard over the last two years to improve in many areas as a baseball player.”
“I feel that with his work ethic, maturity and faith, he will continue to develop as a person and a player throughout his time at the University.”
He also played football for the Class 6A Demons. A starting linebacker for Head Coach Dave Foster, Gifford averaged 7.7 tackles per game, including a pair of sacks and four tackles for lost yardage.
Gifford has spent his life in the ‘wild frontier town’ of the Old West, Dodge City, Kansas (pop. 27,921), where he was born. ‘Getting out of Dodge’ will be a 485-mile trek to Waxahachie.
The long-running TV show, Gunsmoke, used Dodge City as its setting. It is 155 miles west of Wichita.
During his senior season Gifford toted a .327 batting average, about the same as his .329 summer American Legion numbers. His pitching record was 5-1 in eight appearances, which also included a save. The Legion squad sported a 29-6 record.
One of his finest accomplishments upon graduation was earning a Regents Diploma.
Gifford is one of two children to parents Justin Gifford and mom, Natasha Anderson. His sibling is nine-year old Reece Anderson.
He has been a member of the CRAVE Youth Group, which is part of Dodge City’s First Assembly of God. Gifford was active in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle in high school and also had experience coaching a youth basketball team.
SAGU posted a 14-34 record last season with a very young team. Twenty-five of the team’s 29-players were freshmen or sophomores. They figure to be just as green when they begin their next season in January of 2014.
The Lions are beginning their first season in the Sooner Athletic Conference, considered the best league in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Eleven teams will comprise the Sooner this year, which had five teams ranked at the end of last season.
Along with two new teams from the Red River Athletic Conference, both of which were ranked nationally, the SAC figures to be as tough as ever. It means SAGU players will be able to test their mettle against top-flight competition in a 40+ game schedule.
Coach Blackmon will release the team's 2014 schedule later this fall. The Lions play their games at both the Waxahachie Sports Center and at their campus ballpark.
The Lions will have fall camp, which will determine who makes the active squad as well as who has the inside track for starting when practices resume in January.
*Note: A paczki (pronounced punch-kee) is a very popular Polish pastry that is stuffed with fruit or creme fillings (like a jelly donut) and savored prior to Ash Wednesday.