March 10, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – To say that sophomore third baseman Dougie Parks is swinging the bat well for the John A. Logan College baseball team is like saying Stephen Curry has a decent jump shot for the Golden State Warriors. In other words, it’s a gross understatement.

Parks is living proof that several months of intense weight training can indeed make a big difference in the batter’s box.

Weighing in last year as a freshman at 175 pounds, the Lakeville, Minn. product was not overly strong. He batted a respectable .296, but did not often hit the ball with much authority and was placed in the lower end of the batting order. He finished last season with only 17 runs batted in; 21 runs scored; nine doubles, no triples, one home run, 24 walks, 19 strikeouts and a .385 slugging percentage in 43 games played.

This year, Parks has already reached or surpassed some of those numbers. He is 20 pounds heavier at 195 and it’s pretty much all muscle. The added strength has resulted in some crazy offensive stats.

Only 15 games into this spring season, Parks is hitting a robust .460 with five home runs; two triples; nine doubles; 21 RBIs; 23 hits; 22 runs scored; 12 walks; and only four strikeouts. Moreover, he has a stunning on-base percentage of .571 and a slugging percentage that has eclipsed the 1,000 figure. In fact, the .1020 he currently owns ranks him seventh in the country.

“Doug has really done a good job in this first month of the season,” said veteran Vols head coach Jerry Halstead. “He has not been missing his pitch and is staying within himself. He has used the whole field, and because of that, has gotten off to a great start.”

Parks said getting stronger is only part of the reason for his vastly improved numbers.

“I think having a year of college experience under my belt has made a big difference this year, both at the plate and in the field,” he said. “I’m seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand much better right now. Added bat speed also makes a difference. I am not as antsy in the batter’s box as I used to be and I am definitely getting more carry off the bat than I ever did before. Defensively, I am more comfortable. I think my success as a hitter has taken the pressure off of me in the field.”

Parks has also changed his diet.

“I’m eating more high-protein foods – a lot of chicken and leafy greens. It seems to have helped.”

Although it’s still rather early in the season, Parks said he is excited about what he sees with this year’s team.

“I think we have the mindset that we are good enough to beat anybody,” he said. “Spartanburg Methodist (South Carolina) is one of the best baseball programs in the country and we put 15 runs on the board against them. We play in a tough conference, but I am confident we can win it again this year if we play up to our capabilities. I know the guys are looking forward to the challenge. Our goal is to go to Nationals. It would be the experience of a lifetime. My dad had that opportunity back in Minnesota when he played. I would like that same experience. It would be a dream come true.”