College Round-up: Molloy’s Baxter leaving Columbia for Vanderbilt

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Mike Baxter had the freshman year he was expecting, finishing second on the Columbia baseball team with a .375 average while starting 42 of 46 games.

But playing baseball at Columbia left the former Molloy standout unfulfilled. After being named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball, one of just two Ivy League players on the list, the Whitestone native has opted to transfer to Vanderbilt.

“Purely baseball, that’s what it came down to,” Baxter said. “Columbia’s a great place. I enjoyed myself and had a great time, but it just didn’t offer everything I was looking for athletically. That’s important to me, and I didn’t want to let it pass by.”

Baxter came in as a shortstop but was moved to first base before finally ending up at third base, where he had a .980 fielding percentage. Batting third for the Lions, Baxter belted 60 hits, fifth best in a single season for Columbia, and was third in the Ivy League in hits and runs scored (44).

“I was hoping to come out and have a year like that,” Baxter said. “I knew I could do that, and anything less would have been disappoint­ing.”

Baxter, who was also named to the American Baseball Coaches Associatio­n/Rawlings All-Northeast First Team, is heading for a Vanderbilt team on the rise under first-year head coach Tim Corbin.

Vanderbilt made its first appearance in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in seven years, defeating several nationally ranked teams during the regular season. The team finished 27-28 overall, nearly making the NCAA tournament for the first time in 23 years.

“I love playing college ball, and I just want to be surrounded by a better brand of baseball, and that’s what they’re going to offer,” Baxter said. “They’re trying to turn the program around a bit, so hopefully they’ll be a force in a couple of years.”

Rozema racks up the postseason honors

St. John’s junior shortstop Mike Rozema was named District II Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers and was selected to the ABCA/Rawlings All-Northeast First Team, it was announced last week.

Rozema, who was one of nine winners nationally, led the Red Storm to a 29-27 record and batted .408, which ranked third in the Big East and 27th nationally.

The Fair Lawn native led St. John’s in nearly every offensive category, including batting average, at-bats (196), hits (80), runs scored (44) and runs batted in (33).

Rozema was a first-team All-Big East selection and was named third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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