07/18/2014 10:02 AM -
James Meeker is starting to come into his own in his first year with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. The Akron Zips third baseman is hitting .247 on the year, going 2-for-4 in a breakout game against the Lexington Snipes where he also drove in two runs on July 11. While players can have a host of summer jobs and commitments, Meeker says “nothing beats playing baseball in the summer.”
While there are differing views across the team, Meeker sees summer baseball as necessary opportunity to fix parts of his game. While his first goal was to gain weight for next season, there are also tactical changes he is hoping to adjust, and believes he is on the right track to do so.
“I wanted to try to work on attacking first-pitch fastballs, and not getting behind in the count,” Meeker said. “And I think I have done an alright job with that… [but] it’s not going to change overnight.”
A big difference from college baseball is the fact that the Midwest Collegiate League uses wooden bats instead of metal, which has been an adjustment for Meeker. However, because Meeker was a pitcher back at North Allegheny High School, it gives him a better approach at the plate, because he knows the strike zone from a pitcher’s perspective.
“I definitely think it helps you a little bit,” Meeker said. “You just think what you would be throwing out there to get the batter to feel uncomfortable, so I guess it helps you predict what the pitcher is trying to get you out with.”
Meeker is staying with teammates Nate Schneider, Nick Vogelmeier and Cameron Linck in an apartment in Whiting on 119th Street for the summer. Unlike many of his teammates, he is not from Northwest Indiana. Meeker is a Wexford, Pennsylvania native, plays his college baseball in Akron, Ohio, and summer ball in Whiting, Indiana. While he likes his time in Whiting so far, it has been a new challenge for him.
“It’s my first time away from home for a long period,” Meeker said. “But I think it is pretty cool just going out there and experiencing new things and meeting new people; it’s been a lot of fun.”
Meeker also mentioned that he has enjoyed the community mentality in Whiting as well.
“It’s a pretty cool place,” Meeker said. “It seems like everyone knows each other, and they all help out for each other. We’ve gotten some pretty good crowds at the games… it’s a neat town.”
Meeker is looking forward to the second half and playoff push for the remainder of the season with the Oilmen. He is also proud to continue the tradition of the Akron Zips and the Oilmen, being the fifth Akron player to dawn the black and gold in two years.