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Hammrich catching on with Olympic College
Wolves’ former QB, pitcher finds himself chasing glory from behind the plate these days.
The field at South Kitsap High School didn’t look much different than the last time he stepped onto it.
It was the vantage point that had changed.
David Hammrich, a 2006 South graduate, returned to Port Orchard earlier this month as a member of the Olympia Athletics, a feeder team for the Kitsap BlueJackets.
Both are summer-league teams for college players.
When Hammrich was a senior at South, he started at quarterback and on the pitching mound for the Wolves. The latter led him to Auburn’s Green River Community College.
Two years later, he’s a catcher at Olympic College.
He said the change came about because the coaches at Green River tried to convert him into a submarine-style pitcher. The 5-foot-10 Hammrich attempted to make the conversion during a redshirt year, but his progress was halted by weakness in his rotator cuff.
He also had to return home frequently to help on the family farm near Long Lake, and said it wasn’t financially viable to stay in Auburn.
At the same time, Ryan Parker was taking over the perennially weak program at OC.
The Rangers, who haven’t had a winning season since 2001, went 2-45-1 in 2007 — Parker’s first year — and Hammrich thought there might be an opportunity for immediate playing time at catcher.
Getting back behind the plate wasn’t a challenge. Hammrich said he played catcher in Little League and junior high, but it was Aaron Smothers’ best position when they played for the Wolves.
Hammrich said the bigger test has come at the plate. He finished with a .186 batting average and didn’t hit a home run in 97 at-bats.
“I went on a pretty good 0-for streak,” he said. “I was hitting a lot of line drives right to people.”
Parker, who assists Matt Acker with the Kitsap BlueJackets, said he didn’t push Hammrich toward a summer team because of his offensive struggles.
“We want to get all of our guys playing if at all possible,” he said. “I would really prefer them playing semi-pro ball, but not all of them can. It challenges them because they’re playing against guys from Division I and Division II teams.”
Hammrich’s offense was a large enough concern that he wanted to play this summer, though.
“Hitting is such a mental game, and I’m focusing on hitting all the time,” he said. “I’ve been on a very long cold streak and I need to get it going. I’m hoping that something will click.”
When Hammrich isn’t working on his swing at the ballpark or on his family’s 25-acre farm, he might be restoring his 1963 Chevy Nova SS — it doesn’t run, but he hopes to eventually drive it around — raising chickens, goats and pigs.
As an adolescent, he was involved with Future Farmers of America.
Hammrich will pick up a new duty this fall when he serves as student body president at OC. It’s a 15-hour-a-week position that will pay him $9 to $10 per hour.
While he said it’s nice to earn money and play baseball, it’s an opportunity to make an impact at the college that interests him most.
One issue that interested Hammrich in particular during the last school year was the proposal to change OC’s mascot from the Rangers to the Bears. It didn’t occur, which Hammrich said was a relief because the team spent $3,000 on new uniforms inscribed with Rangers. He said the team used fundraisers to generate the money.
“That is an extremely huge waste of money for the teams to have to change uniforms,” he said. “It’s tradition. You don’t just go change your name.”
Parker said he’s happy to have Hammrich represent the program in student government, but felt he was distracted with personal issues, such as the farm, last season.
“He’s got the ability to hit at this level,” Parker said. “I think there were some outside influences that were affecting his ability to hit at this level.”
He said he expects catchers to be leaders — mostly because players from that position provide guidance — and Parker was happy with the example Hammrich established for his teammates.
“He’s a great kid,” he said. “He’s going to outwork most people, whether it’s in the classroom, weight room or on the field. He’s a guy with high standards and high morals. He just works hard with everything that he does.”
Hammrich’s time in politics might be short; he hopes to make his name as a lawyer. Hammrich also would like to be a walk-on baseball player at Washington or Washington State, but also is excited about Seattle University. The Redhawks are reinstating their baseball program next year and SU also has a law school.
“If I could get to Seattle U, go to law school and play baseball, that would be wonderful,” Hammrich said.
After all, he doesn’t want to give courtroom briefings until no one’s interested in him as a baseball player.
“My ultimate goal still is to get drafted,” he said. “That’s my dream.”