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Patrick enjoying last year of JUCO

Kendall Patrick is only months away from playing Division I college baseball. For now, the Mitchell native is focusing on helping Black Hawk College make its first ever trip to the Junior College World Series. "You've got to focus on the present,...

Kendall Patrick is only months away from playing Division I college baseball.

For now, the Mitchell native is focusing on helping Black Hawk College make its first ever trip to the Junior College World Series.

"You've got to focus on the present," said Patrick, who graduated from Mitchell High School in 2010. "I'm in a little bit of a slump lately, but you have to keep pushing. You're going to get hot and you're going to go through your slumps. But you've got to remember you're going to keep seeing at-bats."

Patrick, a redshirt sophomore, is winding down his junior college baseball career. In about three weeks, his team -- based in Moline, Ill. -- will start the playoffs in hopes of qualifying for the JUCO World Series.

Once this season ends, Patrick will start his career as a Division I college baseball player, as he signed with the University of Michigan in November. He will be a transfer player with two years of remaining eligibility starting this fall.

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Although he's anticipating moving to the next stage of his baseball career, Patrick is focused on improving his game before he makes the jump.

This year, Patrick has started 31 of his team's 32 games and has a .348 batting average. In each game he's played, Patrick has been behind the plate as the team's primary catcher.

As of Monday, he had 88 at-bats, tallying five home runs, 19 RBIs, six doubles and 19 singles. He holds a .458 on-base percentage and a .580 slugging percentage. Another stat he's quick to point out: He has been hit by 10 pitches this season.

"I don't like to get out of the way," joked Patrick, who also brought up one instance recently in which he took a pitch to the jaw.

On April 2, Patrick had his biggest highlight of the year with three home runs in a doubleheader.

The first was in the first game of the doubleheader, and then he hit two home runs, both in the third inning, of the second game.

He said it's "hands down the best college game" of his career. Patrick had hit two homers in a game before, accomplishing the feat for Mitchell's Legion and spring high school teams.

This season will be the first time Patrick is able to help BHC during postseason play.

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He missed past playoffs, battling injuries with a torn left labrum and a broken leg at the ankle.

With seven doubleheaders left before the playoffs, BHC (17-15) is working to qualify for its first berth to the Junior College World Series, which runs May 25 through June 1 in Grand Junction, Colo.

To qualify for the JUCO World Series, BHC needs to win its section and region tournaments. The playoffs are played May 11-19.

"The last couple of years, our region has been pretty strong," Patrick said. "Everyone has been splitting with each other.

"As far as our chances to get to the JUCO World Series? We'll just have to peak at the right time."

Once his JUCO career wraps up, Patrick said he's going to play for the Mankato MoonDogs over the summer.

The MoonDogs play in the Northwoods League, a wood-bat, semi-professional baseball league in which players from all around the country live with a host family and play an aggressive schedule.

Throughout the summer, Patrick will travel through Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Canada for games.

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"The league is May 29 through August 11 and there are only five off days in that span," said Patrick, who will be one of three catchers on the team's roster. "There's where I'll be focusing on getting ready for Michigan.

"That's when you see where your skills compare to the other top names in the nation."

Related Topics: BASEBALL
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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