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Hickman's Colby Fitch swings out of a love for baseball

Saturday, August 11, 2012 | 8:21 p.m. CDT; updated 11:07 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 11, 2012
Hickman catcher Colby Fitch practices batting Thursday afternoon at the Hickman High School baseball field. As a 17-year-old junior, Fitch has been playing baseball for 13 years. As a promising young player, he practices four to five times a week for about two hours at a time.

COLUMBIA — Out near the Hickman High School baseball field at midday in the summer, you will hear one sound that breaks up the noise of traffic along Providence Road.

It's the sound of the Kewpies' Colby Fitch's metal bat hitting a ball, again and again.

With only his older brother as an audience, he's here swinging away, practicing the game he loves.

Fitch, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound catcher, has been swinging a bat almost his entire life, but never as frequently as he has this summer. After 40 games and three national tournaments with summer league teams, Fitch is done competing until Hickman’s season starts back up next spring. He isn’t playing football this fall when he will be a junior at Hickman, giving it up to focus more on his favorite sport.

Last weekend, the audience was much larger and the reward was much more tangible than in the Hickman batting cage. In the 101-player, invite-only Under Armour Midwest Futures Game, Fitch was unanimously named the MVP. The success caught the attention of more than 20 scouts, said Ethan Silverman, scouting director for the Missouri team for which Fitch played.

It was not the first time scouts have watched Fitch, who earned a spot on the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state second team for Class 4 in the spring based on his play for Hickman. He led the Kewpies in batting average (.408), home runs (4) and RBIs (27) last season.

But Fitch says he doesn’t swing for the attention, though he would love to continue playing baseball in college and beyond. When others ask him about how good he is, Fitch said he doesn’t really want to answer.

Hickman coach Dan Devine Jr., and Jeff Foster, coach of Fitch's summer team, described him as an enthusiastic, humble, no-complaints performer who plays the game always for the moment and never for the future.

“If you just watch him play, you don’t always understand how much he really enjoys the game," Devine Jr., said.

Fitch said he enjoys how baseball works.

“It’s really a thinking man’s game,”  Fitch said. “It’s not all about physicality. You have to think about plays before they happen, what you’re going to do with the ball when you get it.”

Fitch said this summer is when he got the most serious about playing, and the results followed. But at one point in June, he was in strong need of something good to happen.

Halfway through Hickman’s season in the spring, Fitch reached a point where he wasn’t making solid contact. His batting average dropped about 100 points and when his swings did find the ball, they lacked the power he has now. Finally, at a weekend tournament in June, he regained his stroke and never looked back.

Now, Fitch practices batting and fielding four times a week in addition to lifting weights. He wants to improve every day and hopes to continue swinging for a long time, a goal Foster and Silverman said is realistic.

“He’s a left-handed, power-hitting catcher,” Foster said. “That’s very intriguing … He definitely has professional baseball in his future. I don’t know what level, but he’s probably going to be (drafted) out of high school.”

Devine said he wants to see Fitch gain more experience as a catcher, adding that he has no doubt the junior will have the work ethic to continue getting better.

“There’s something about baseball,” Fitch said. “I’ve always had the edge and the desire to get better.”


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