Yarrow plays in collegiate baseball league finals | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Yarrow plays in collegiate baseball league finals

Steve Yingling

For the love of the game. That’s what carried Stephen Yarrow through a team-record 57-game summer schedule in the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League.

The former all-league and all-state player from South Lake Tahoe doesn’t mind that the wood bat league consumed most of his summer vacation.

“A little bit of rest is always needed, but baseball is a lot of fun, so I can’t complain,” said Yarrow, who will begin preparing for his sophomore season at the University of San Francisco on Sept. 5.

An added bonus for Yarrow was that his Wenatchee (Wash.) Applesox played for the league championship, losing the final series to the Corvallis Knights.

“The competition was great up there,” Yarrow said. “Guys from the Pac-10, WCC and Big West were petty common players in that league,” said Yarrow of the college baseball conferences that have combined to win the past three College World Series. “One thing the coaches at USF emphasize is get a little better every day. That’s how I tried to apply it, and I feel I got a little bit better.”

Yarrow finished with a .308 average, which was 13th best in the league and a fourth-leading slugging percentage of .475. His .413 on-base percentage was ninth. He finished with eight doubles, a-league-best three triples and two homers.

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The first baseman accomplished each of those feats at the plate with wooden bats. Metal bats are used during the college baseball season, but a shift to the wooden bats during the summer gives the ballplayers a taste of what they can expect at the professional level.

“It wasn’t too bad of an adjustment,” he said. “When you’re swinging wood, it bends more and the barrel wags more and it has a much tinier sweet spot. It’s a great training tool. If you can hit with wood, you can obviously hit with metal.”

Yarrow worked with the Wenatchee coaches on being assertive at the plate.

“I wanted to have a better idea of what the pitcher was gonna do and what I wanted to do and being better mentally all throughout the game,” he said.

Yarrow expected the Dons to redshirt him last spring, but a key injury in the infield put the 6-foot-3 slugger in the starting lineup. A third-string first baseman at the season’s outset, Yarrow wound up starting at third base over the latter half of the season.

“I would up with 70 at-bats, and I couldn’t have been happier,” he said. “The coaching staff is incredible, and we are going to do some great things the next couple of years. You can’t ask for anything else.”

If all goes according to plan, the sophomore will start at first base.

“I’m striving to play ever single day, and most likely it will be at first, and I’ll probably get some work in at third,” Yarrow said.

Baseball will be waiting for him when he returns to San Francisco. For now, Yarrow is all about catching up on lost time in Lake Tahoe. Late last week, he and two friends hiked Freel Peak for the first time.

“I wish I didn’t take (Lake Tahoe) for granted when I lived here, but I am sure enjoying it now,” he said.