Kamrin Hoffmann’s introduction to college baseball included plenty of lessons.
Playing behind sophomore Jack Surin, the top catcher at NCAA Division III Benedictine University in Lisle, Hoffmann collected eight at-bats as a freshman in the spring for the Eagles.
“I knew it was going to be a learning year for me,” said Hoffmann, a 2018 Huntley graduate. “I learned from him and just watched him the whole year. I was working with our hitting coach. I was working on calling games with our pitching coach, blocking balls. I wanted to learn a little bit of everything.”
After playing four games as a freshman, Hoffmann is putting his knowledge to work this summer as the No. 1 catcher for Wheaton-based Force Elite Baseball of the Metropolitan Collegiate Summer Baseball League of Illinois.
Hoffmann is batting .435 this summer, the third-highest average in the league for college athletes from around the country. He represented Force Elite in the annual all-star game last week.
“It was a really fun experience,” said Hoffmann, who went 0 for 1 with two walks in his team’s 7-2 loss. “It’s cool to meet different guys from different colleges.”
Hoffmann was especially busy as an all-star catcher, working with many pitchers he had never met before. The result was a crash course in preparation.
“You meet the guy five minutes before you go out there,” he said. “You discuss, ‘What do you throw? What do you like to throw in different counts?’ You get a quick background. ‘Where are you from? What college do you go to?’”
The routine isn’t unusual for Hoffmann, who has gotten acquainted with dozens of new players around the league.
“When I get on base, I always say, ‘How’s it going?’” he said. “I say hi to everyone and see where they’re from. That’s pretty cool.”
Hoffmann has met plenty of new people thanks to his impressive summer at the plate.
He is one of only three players hitting above .400 in the Metro league and has collected four doubles and seven RBIs.
“I’m seeing the ball really well,” he said. “I’m not getting overanxious at the plate or being too aggressive. I’m a contact guy. I’m just trying to hit the ball up the middle and in the gaps. As a catcher, I realize what’s coming here and there. I like to look for a ball on the outer half of the plate that I can drive the other way.”
Hoffmann hopes to continue his success during the second half of the season. Force Elite (14-10) is in third place in the eight-team league. Hoffmann has helped the team earn the third-best batting average in the league (.282) and guided a pitching staff with the third-ranked ERA (3.25).
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “I’m not taking this for granted. I’m just trying to stay focused.”
Hoffmann hopes his impressive play carries over to the fall at Benedictine.
“When I get my opportunity, I’ve got to take advantage of it,” he said. “I just have to be patient. It’ll come.”
Albright joins Heartland staff: Huntley graduate Tyler Albright, who played collegiate baseball at D-I Tennessee Martin and Oakton Community College, has joined the coaching staff at Heartland Community College in Normal.
Albright will serve as an assistant coach for the Hawks under fourth-year head coach Jimmy Frankos. He will coach Heartland’s hitters and infielders, according to the school.
As a player, Albright played 107 career games, mainly at second base, while batting .313 in his three-year career with UT-Martin. Last season, he served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Skyhawks.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.