Blue Springs grad Trevor Blackwell looks to build off strong first college season
PARKVILLE, Mo. — A connection to a traveling baseball team years ago helped Trevor Blackwell find a place to play this summer.
The Blue Springs High School graduate is playing for the Creche Innovations Stars in the Ban Johnson Collegiate League. On Monday night, he provided the game-winning RBI when he hit a sacrifice fly to help the Stars beat the NKC Apartments Giants 7-6 in eight innings at Creekside Baseball Park in Parkville.
That game featured plenty of familiar faces for Blackwell, who is playing his first season in the league. On the opposite side of the field were former high school teammates Jake Lufft and Raymond Paniagua. His Stars squad features Luke Smith and Aiden Smith, also former teammates.
“It is always fun ... I love joking around with them and making fun when they do bad and when I do bad, they do it right back to me,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell just wrapped up his redshirt freshman season at Dodge City Community College and was looking for a place to play this summer. He reached out to Stars coach Kyle Clifton, the Truman High School graduate who used to coach the Yard Baseball Club (YBC) Ban Johnson team years ago. There was also a connection to Clifton’s assistant coach on the Stars, Beau Franklin, a head baseball coach and instructor at YBC.
“I just sent Kyle a text and asked him if he had any room on his summer team and he took me in,” Blackwell said.
So far, he is performing well for the Stars, hitting .294 with three home runs, nine RBIs, scoring 11 runs and drawing 10 walks in 12 games. In a game against Regal Plastic on June 16, Blackwell hit two home runs.
“He is a high-energy guy, he is always pumping his boys up and he is definitely a huge personality you need on a team,” said Clifton, a former two-time MVP in the Ban Johnson League. “I try to create culture. I don’t just throw a team together, and I always look at what we need season-to-season. I really started to lean on Beau.
“I knew Blackwell from his junior year at YBC and I knew he could definitely swing it. He can play many roles on a team and he is an athlete that can fill in a lot of different roles. He was asking if he could play shortstop last night. We are down in the fifth and sixth inning and I’m thinking about what moves we need to make and he’s like, ‘Nah, let me get short(stop), let me get short.’ He lifts everyone’s spirits when he shows up.”
This summer has been a carryover from a good spring for Blackwell, who hit .339 with 11 home runs, which was a tie for 10th all-time in a season for Dodge City. He had three multi-homer games, one per month – against Colby (March 14), Seward County (April 3) and Cloud County (May 1). The left-handed hitting Blackwell was second on Dodge City with 45 RBIs and was third in hits with 52. His batting average was the fourth best on a Conquistadors team that finished 21-30.
He was named to the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference honorable mention list for his performance.
"I'm not surprised he had such a good year; we thought he would have that good of a year in 2020," Dodge City assistant coach Eli Egger said. "There is no doubt in my mind he will have a huge year next year and the sky is the limit for him. I was sad we didn't get to coach him in 2020 and COVID happened. When we got him back in the fall of 2020 going into last year, we had a proven commodity as a new recruit. It was awesome to get him back. He is a good player and will be a good player. He has a bright future."
This was his first full season at the school in western Kansas after a torn labrum ended his first season. He is going back for his second full season at DCCC in the fall but will still technically have four years of college eligibility left thanks to the COVID-19 shortened season that provided another year of eligibility.
“Last year was the perfect year to have surgery because I really didn’t miss anything,” said Blackwell, who plays with DCCC teammates Joseph Daneff and Trent Trammell on the Stars. “But the short season was horrible and no baseball for a year and half was not a good time. It was depressing, really.”
Blackwell will provide some versatility for wherever he goes next as he is playing right field and first base for the Stars, but also has experience catching and playing third base.
He hopes to build on a successful first season at the junior college level and provides enough evidence to four-year coaches this fall that he is ready to move on to the next level.
“I will get through the sophomore showcase,” he said, “and have a good time and have a good year and see where it takes me.”