After a summer of playing for his country, Asa Lacy has his attention focused on Texas A&M University baseball.
The Tivy alum represented the USA Collegiate National Team during the summer. The left-hander had a 0-0 record and 2.25 earned run average in starts against Cuba, Chinese Taipei and Japan.
“It was a really cool experience,” said the 6-foot-4 Lacy, named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Division I All-America Third Team for his performance during the college baseball season. “The amount of energy that every single one of us invested, it’s a true team playing for your country.”
He rested for six weeks after the national experience and resumed throwing in late August. Projected to be a high pick in Major League Baseball’s 2020 draft, he is not thinking that far ahead.
“I’d like to focus on the season and make a good run,” said Lacy, who opted for college after being chosen in the 31st round of the 2017 MLB draft.
Summer play prepared him for this season, when he expects to throw a lot of innings. He had an 8-4 record and 2.13 ERA in 15 starts during the spring, finishing second on the team with 88 2/3 innings pitched.
Most notably, he worked to improve the spin of his slider and was pleased with the results.
“In the summer it was kind of my go-to, locating it when and where I wanted to,” said Lacy, who also throws a four-seam fastball, curveball and changeup.
And he focused on reducing the number of walks he issues. Though he had a team-high 130 strikeouts in 2019, his 43 walks were the most too. He allowed four or more walks in a third of his starts.
“I would try to get too fine, like a 1-2 (count) or 2-2, trying to be too fine with the slider or the curveball,” he said.
Lacy allowed nine hits, struck out nine and walked five in 12 innings for the national team. He was sharpest against Japan, allowing three hits in a scoreless four innings and striking out five.
“Players from Japan and Chinese Taipei were so aggressive,” he said. “They were trying to get to the fastball early. They did not like to hit breaking balls or changeups.”
“The Japanese umpires have quite a big-league strike zone,” he said. “You could even now and then get them to swing at something out of the zone. That was something we had to adjust to.”
Meanwhile, Cuban batters took the first pitch their first time through the lineup.
“A lot of the Cuban hitters were older,” he said. “They’re more experienced.”
Facing international competition was an interesting learning experience. Lacy said one of the more unusual sights was a band that sat behind Japan’s dugout and played the entire game.
“They don’t stop playing,” he said. “It’s constant.”
Esther Bowers, Southwestern University
Esther Bowers has been a force in the Southwestern University women’s tennis lineup.
As a freshman, the Tivy graduate was an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division III All-American, honored for her doubles play.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said of that first year.
The past year the sophomore moved up from fourth in the singles lineup. She compiled a 17-1 record, including 16-1 at No. 2, according to the school’s online site. She was 15-5 in doubles and earned all-Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference recognition for the second time.
“I definitely think I’ve been playing very well,” said the junior, the conference’s singles player of the week in February. “Freshman year, I was kind of overwhelmed. Moving to second, I felt confident. My level of play went up.”
Bowers opened the fall playing at No. 1 singles. She lost matches against St. Edward’s, Tarleton State and University of Texas at Tyler opponents in the first competition.
“She has transformed into a team player,” head tennis coach Billy Porter said. “She is a very level-headed young lady on the court. I would label her a monster competitor.”