What initially caught the eyes of a few McHenry County baseball players while visiting Adams (Colo.) State in October were the mountains behind the right-field fence and the brand, new artificial turf field.
What also appealed to the Scots was that Adams, an NCAA Division II school in Alamosa, had revived its program last season after 35 dormant years.
“Their coach who recruited us talked about us being able to create a legacy by coming there to play,” MCC second baseman Pat Murphy said.
The facilities, the scenic landscape and the opportunity were enough to sell Murphy, a 2011 McHenry graduate, and Dom Winiecki, a 2012 Crystal Lake South graduate, to attend Adams next year. They will play for the Grizzlies on athletic scholarships, as will MCC pitcher Cory Ott (from Wisconsin). Former Hersey pitcher Brad Moore also is considering going to Adams.
“It’s exciting to be a part of that,” said Winiecki, a former catcher converted to outfielder at MCC. “And it’s always fun playing with guys you’ve played with already.”
Murphy originally went to Saint Joseph’s (Ind.) College, a D-II school in Rensselaer, but did not like aspects of the school and team, so he came back to MCC in the spring of 2012. He redshirted, then played last season and hit .324 with a .468 on-base percentage and 26 RBIs. He also achieved the NJCAA equivalent of Academic All-American.
Winiecki was the Scots’ starting left fielder and hit .389 with 11 doubles and 50 runs and was an All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference player.
“I pretty much caught since I was 14,” Winiecki said. “It was tough to make some of the reads and learn how to get jumps (in the outfield). You’re not involved in every play out there, so it gets a little boring sometimes.”
Adams was 10-39 in its first season and the Grizzlies will be in their third season back when Murphy, Winiecki and Ott get there.
“When we took the trip, there were five of us and we all liked it,” Murphy said. “It’s very cheap for out-of-state. The financial thing and the facilities lured me in.”
MCC coach Jared Wacker expects Winiecki and Murphy to be integral parts in the middle of the Scots’ lineup this spring.
“Both of them had great high school careers and continued that success here at MCC,” Wacker said. “They now have a great opportunity to move on and make an immediate impact at their next program.”