Georgetown University junior baseball player Steve Anderson (Albany, N.Y./Guilderland) wants to carry his summer experience in the New England Collegiate Baseball League back to the Hilltop.
Anderson, who started at first base and designated hitter during the summer, helped lead the Newport (R.I.) Gulls to the NECBL Championship, the team's first title since 1999, and to the No. 1 spot in Perfect Game USA's Top 50 Summer Collegiate Team Rankings.
Along the way, Anderson played in 33 games as the Gulls posted a 31-10 regular season record. He hit .310 (40-for-129) with 10 doubles, three home runs and 23 runs batted in.
During the playoffs, Anderson hit .292 with three home runs and eight RBI. The Gulls had been ranked No. 1 during the regular season and were among the top-five as the postseason began, but the team won six of seven games in the playoffs to move into the top spot.
"It was amazing," Anderson said upon his return to campus. "From beginning to end and then through the playoffs and the moment we won it, it was incredible."
It was a thrilling way to finish the 2012 year of play for Anderson, who played first base and designated hitter as a sophomore and helped keep Georgetown in the hunt for a BIG EAST Tournament spot until the final day of the regular season. After hitting only .254 during the regular season with Georgetown, Anderson seemed to find a groove in Rhode Island using the wood bat, ranking among the league leaders in batting for much of the summer.
"I've been using the same routine from high school to South Troy (Dodgers, summer league team) to college," Anderson said. "There's a point at the end of the spring where you know you're going to switch and it's become pretty normal to me."
Anderson also credits the opportunities to be around players from top programs and to learn from different coaches to his success this summer.
"Our hitting coach (Al Levya) went with me every day to the cage for an hour and a half and that was really a great experience," Anderson said. "I've been fortunate to have some really great coaches to work with and between the coaches at Georgetown and up in Newport, they are some of the best I've ever had."
The chance to play in the NECBL was a big opportunity for Anderson and he was excited for the opportunity. "The Cape is obviously, the Cape, but I think the NECBL is easily the second-best league in the summer," he said. "You'll see a good pitcher or hitter in some of the smaller leagues, but there we were seeing good people every night. The hitters and defense were really consistent. Day in and day out, it was definitely a challenge.
It was also a chance to meet other players and learn from them too.
"My team had guys from many of the bigger programs and it was a good chance to pick their brains and see how they do things," he said. "You can alter your own style and you find what works. The guys you're playing with have a really good idea and it helps to raise your game."
Anderson said that one of the things that made the Newport team special was how close the team was, even in just a short season, and he sees similarities to the Georgetown team.
"I'm excited to be back," Anderson said. "It's going to be nice to be back out on the field and get things going with the guys. We know we've lost some pretty key guys in our offense, but I think a lot of it comes down to how we gel as a team. That's one of the things that separated us in Newport, we were very close and had a great chemistry. Some of the best teams that I've been have been the year after some key guys leave. We just need guys to step into roles but I'm really looking forward this season and I hope some of that magic from this summer can carry over."
Anderson hopes to continue to raise his game this year as he and his Georgetown teammates want to take their 2012 season one step further by making the BIG EAST Tournament.
"I think getting the chance to play in the NECBL was huge because it gives our program some recognition," he said. "Bringing those experiences back and having the experience of playing meaningful baseball and how to prepare, that's something we all have learned. When I was in Newport, we expected to win, but even if we lost, we knew we could come back. If we can bring that mindset back, you're going to win and you're going to build some success."