Senior Sheffield named SAC's best third baseman
Former Maypearl standout earns keep, wins respect on defense
Lions increase double plays from six to 41 in one season
The 6-foot-2 senior recently concluded an impressive career that witnessed four seasons of leather skills that would make a tanner jealous.
The congenial redhead spent most of time on the hot corner, though he was also a trusted defender at first and second base. He even tossed a few innings from the mound when called upon.
During his senior year he had a .960 fielding percentage, making just four errors in 93 chances at third base. He had 34 assists (throw outs) and made 55 putouts. Competing in the NAIA’s best baseball conference, that is quite an accomplishment.
“It’s an honor to be named the third base Gold Glover,” he said, “especially in a tough conference with the quality players we face.”
Fearless and as tough as a thirty-cent steak, Sheffield saved his best performance for his senior campaign.
“What I like about (playing at) third is the challenge of dealing with the hot shots that are hit right at me,” he said of the instant decisions required when playing in the gauntlet.
“My knack has been to stick to the fundamentals,” he explains. “Staying simple when fielding ground balls allowed me to be successful. Avoiding the temptation to make fancy plays limited mistakes.
“It’s a fun position, though I’m not sure what my favorite is. While at SAGU I was able to play several of them.”
Born in Wichita, Kansas, it was baseball that attracted him to SAGU.
“Playing ball near to my home led me to SAGU,” he said. “The Christian aspect was a bonus. I liked the size of the school. As a result I developed many relationships outside of baseball.”
His career directives after college include teaching and coaching.
“I will be teaching social studies in either high school or junior high. That is where I look to begin coaching as well,” the Secondary Education major explained.
During his years in Waxahachie it was his glove and reliable arm that earned him playing time in 70 games, including 50 starting assignments. His 96% fielding percentage as a senior was a career best.
He won a Defensive Player of the Year award during his years in purple in gold.
Under new Head Coach Sam Blackmon the Lions qualified for their first-ever conference tournament berth. The team won 18 games, four more than in 2013.
Their defensive improvements were significant. One season after turning six double plays the Lions converted 41 in Sheffield’s senior season.
Only three teams made more; No. 1 ranked Oklahoma Baptist University (58), Northwood University (43) and Texas Wesleyan University (42). OBU (53-6 record) is still alive in the NAIA national tournament. (Complete listing of SAC team double plays posted below)
SAGU made 116 errors in 46 games in 2013. This spring they were guilty of just 91 in 51. The team finished seventh in fielding percentage (.946), but the infield’s prowess at twin-killing aided the pitching staff. Their earned run average improved from 8.11 to 6.62.
Junior shortstop Preston Hornbeck (McKinney, Tx / McKinney HS, Hesston College), freshman second baseman Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksburg HS) and sophomore first baseman Bryant Threadgill (Whitewright, Tx / Whitewright HS, Dallas Christian College) comprised the majority of the starts around the horn.
Sheffield's batting average hovered around .240. His ability to make contact at the plate made him very difficult to strike out.
Sheffield is from nearby Maypearl, eleven miles southwest of SAGU in eastern Ellis county. He played for the Panthers baseball team at Maypearl High School.
“I don’t remember our records from high school,” he said. “All I remember from high school is that we were pretty good and in the playoffs a lot.”
A prelude of things to come connected back to his winning defensive awards for the Panthers as well.
Nick is the lone son to parents Tony and Eileen who count Kelsi (17) in their family of four.
Sooner Athletic Conference Double Plays
|Team||Record||Games Played||Double Plays|
|Oklahoma Baptist Univ||53-6||59||58|
|Texas Wesleyan Univ||27-26||53||42|
|Wayland Baptist Univ||33-22||55||35|
|Southwestern Christian Univ||8-45||53||30|
|Oklahoma City Univ||35-19||54||29|
|Univ of Science & Arts of OK||27-22||49||29|
|St. Gregory's Univ||15-31||46||29|
|Mid-America Christian Univ||14-34||48||19|