Preston Kroeber uses track speed to help the Jamestown Eagles
Kroeber has aspirations of walking on to the University of North Dakota track team.
JAMESTOWN — While most of the Jamestown Blue Jays are continuing to play baseball for the Jamestown Eagles during the American Legion season, one of the best hitters on the Eagles was not a part of the Blue Jays squad.
Preston Kroeber decided to spend his senior spring season running track instead of playing baseball. Kroeber said the decision to miss out on varsity baseball was a hard one.
"I grew up most of my life playing baseball and stuff like that," Kroeber said. "I had to go through the idea of knowing track is only in the spring and I could play legion ball in the summer and just end up missing out on school ball.”
During the track season, Kroeber finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles in the state meet, which he said is his favorite event to run.
Despite not playing baseball in the spring, Kroeber is currently hitting .444 with a 1.028 OPS, drawing one walk, and scoring three runs. In the field, he’s made five putouts for a perfect fielding percentage.
While he doesn’t have any stolen bases yet this season, Eagles head coach Sam Joseph said his speed and threat to steal bases is important to his team’s success.
“Preston is one of those guys, kind of like a spitfire, he gets things started, he doesn’t play much in the field or he doesn’t do much batting but he does do a lot of running for us,” Joseph said. “So, when we need a little spark on the base paths, he’s one of the guys that we call on to do that for us.”
Kroeber had nine days to prepare (TO PREPARE?>>>) between the end of the track season and the first game for the Eagles, which Joseph said didn’t affect Kroeber this season.
“His transition is pretty smooth with track to baseball because again we need his speed not just on the base paths but when he’s played out in the outfield, he covers a lot of ground in bigger ballparks,” Joseph said. “He’s chasing down baseballs for us and that’s very key, especially when we’re playing against really good teams this year.”
Kroeber said the work ethic needed to succeed in baseball is the same as the work ethic needed to succeed in track.
“That’s what I’ve been doing with baseball and some other sports. You have to put in some extra work if you want to get better,” Kroeber said.
Kroeber and his head coach have different goals for him, with Joseph’s short-term goal of getting Kroeber back on the field after he suffered a thumb injury playing in the Shrine Bowl on June 18. Kroeber’s goals include getting a permanent spot in the everyday lineup.
“My goals are probably to get back to where I was toward the end of last year, find a good spot, find my role on the team,” Kroeber said. “Whether that’s keep base running or find a spot in the field or the batting lineup and help the team anyway I can."