Has a 2-0 record, 2.10 ERA in six appearancesWhen the Redding Colt .45s, a collegiate wood-bat summer league baseball team in the Horizon Air Summer Series League, opened play, Chris Prokupek began the season in the stands.
Prokupek, a Del Norte High graduate and a senior-to-be at New Mexico Highlands University, was living and working in Redding earlier this summer and had bought tickets to a couple of Colt .45s games. After one game he attended with his pitching coach at Shasta Junior College, Frank Bowne, he was informed that Redding had an available roster spot.
He accepted, and is now entering his second summer of baseball.
The Colt .45s are in Arcata on Wednesday for a doubleheader against the Humboldt Crabs, a league opponent. They carry a 30-13 record into Arcata.
Prokupek is 2-0 in six appearances, four of which he has started. He has a 2.10 earned-run average for the Colt .45s, striking out 29 and walking seven to date.
"My arm is feeling good," Prokupek said. "It's stronger."
Prokupek hopes to build on a successful junior season with the Cowboys, who went 41-16 overall and 30-10 in the NCAA Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. New Mexico Highlands received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs, but was ousted after four Central Region Tournament games.
"It was stressful, but we played a lot of good baseball," he said. "It was a higher level of intensity."
Prokupek appeared in 13 games for the Cowboys, all starts. He won seven games, lost five and posted a 4.58 ERA, striking out almost twice as many batters (46) as he walked (25).
His last season of collegiate baseball mere months away, Prokupek has set some goals.
"I'd like to at least get back to (NCAA) regionals, and get first-team All-Conference (honors)," he said.
And after he completes his senior year?
"I'd like to further my career in baseball, in independent (leagues) or overseas," he said. "That's the dream - to do something you love to do and get paid for it."
Reach Robert Husseman at firstname.lastname@example.org.