Jacob Standridge wants to play baseball. Like, really, really bad.
The sophomore pitcher recently transferred to Missouri Western from northern California. His commitment happened in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year and coincided with Missouri Western’s decision to begin phasing out majors.
His major is getting phased out. Baseball season is still an unknown. And, on top of it all, Standridge is over 1,200 miles from home.
However, none of that is causing Standridge to lose focus on why he came here: to play baseball.
“I can’t stress over things that I can’t control,” Standridge said. “COVID, it’s not something I can control at all. So, I just have to stay within myself and just constantly keep working.”
At first, Standridge said he was surprised by how strict the athletic COVID-19 policies were here. But, he soon realized that if following all of those rules means he’ll get to play baseball this year, then that’s what he’s going to do. Standridge said he rarely leaves his house except for practice, class and the occasional grocery run.
“I will do anything to play baseball,” Standridge said.
His roommate and teammate, Chaz Verduzco, said that it’s noticeable both on and off the field how bad Standridge wants a season.
“On a scale from 1-10, he wants the season 11,” Verduzco said. “As extroverted and personable and social as he is, he’s made unbelievable sacrifices to be able to make sure we’re doing everything we can to play baseball in the spring.”
With football and cross country now competing and winter sports confirmed, Standridge said things are pointing in the right direction for a baseball season.
After three years at his junior college in California, one of Standridge’s biggest struggles here has been not being able to build close-knit relationships with his teammates. He’s used to hanging out with his teammates outside of practice, but due to obvious safety reasons, Standridge’s social circle has been limited to his roommates.
As far as his major is concerned, Standridge said the timing worked out perfectly. He transferred just in time to complete a teach-out program for his degree, and that teach-out program will align perfectly with the rest of his baseball career here at Missouri Western. Standridge is majoring in history, with plans to become a teacher one day.
A previous Missouri Western assistant coach was who had reached out to Standridge earlier this year, and Standridge said that until that phone call, he’d never had any intention of traveling to Missouri. In fact, all he’d heard about the Show-Me State was that the weather was hot and miserable.
Due to COVID-19, Standridge couldn’t come on a campus visit and admitted that deciding on a college virtually was a weird experience. However, after looking up the school and the athletic facilities, Standridge was hooked. He committed within weeks of that initial phone call.
“He sold me,” Standridge said. “The school looked great, and I loved it at first sight.”
After living in California his whole life, Standridge said he was ready to see something new. But, he was hesitant to leave his family so far behind in the middle of a pandemic. His family is very close, and some of his relatives are at high risk of contracting the virus.
“I loved the school, but I was so scared about going away because I didn’t know how things were going to be handled, especially in California with how the coronavirus has been spreading out there,” Standridge said.
But after a talk with his mom and other family members, he was reassured that they would be safe back home. Now, he talks to his family over the phone atleast once a week to stay in touch.
Verduzco described Standridge as a hard worker who is kind and caring on the inside, and an extroverted comedian on the outside. He said he’s one of the most mentally tough people on the team.
“He stays positive by trusting his own ability and work ethic,” Verduzco said. “He’s worked too hard up to this point to let external factors affect him."
Compared to Missouri, Standridge said California is much more fast-paced. It’s noticeable in public, with how congested the freeways are there, and it’s noticeable on the diamond, too.
“On the West Coast they’re always looking at the new technology, trying to find new technology to get better,” Standridge said. “Whereas it’s a real old-school way of baseball here.”