Former Roughriders lend a hand at youth baseball camp
PRESCOTT - Former Yavapai College baseball players Cam Schiller, John Jones and Tony Piazza returned to their old stomping grounds this week to help coach Sky Smeltzer at the Mile High Baseball School Overnight Camp.
"It's always good to have those guys come back," Smeltzer said. "It's even more fun for Cam Schiller and Zach Haley, who has also helped out here, that have actually went to the camp and now that they get to coach it, it's really fun."
Schiller, who played for Prescott High School and at YC from 2009-10, moved on to play with Oral Roberts University last season.
"Cam was a really, really good player for us," Smeltzer said. "He had two great years, started for us two years in a row and then had a great year at Oral Roberts. He's somebody who has come along way."
Schiller, who played shortstop for Oral Roberts, finished the season with the second-best batting average on the team (.342) and had 56 RBIs, along with seven home runs.
Oral Roberts ended the season in the Fort Worth Regional, losing 11-9 to Dallas Baptist.
"(Yavapai College) is awesome," Schiller said. "Sky does a really good job of getting guys ready to move on. He teaches a little higher level."
Schiller married this summer and plans on taking it easy for the next week and a half before he returns to school.
Jones, who played at Division-II Francis Marion University last season, also enjoyed coming back to help at the camp.
"It's awesome to be able to come back and get a different perspective on the way coaches see things and hang out with the old guys again," he said.
Jones played outfield for Francis Marion and finished the season batting .347 with three home runs and 32 RBIs.
"Jones was just kind of that roster kid that you always got to have," Smeltzer said. "I think he finished his career here with four straight home runs, so he was always a good kid to have around, a team leader and a good student."
Jones has spent the summer preparing to play his last season of college baseball and hopes to find a job when he graduates in the spring.
Piazza, who played for YC last season, averaged .310 and had 34 RBIs.
"Tony had to sit out his freshman year because of the blood clots in his lungs, but actually had a good year for us last year and he's got his degree," Smeltzer said.
Piazza will continue his playing career in the fall at Regis University in Denver.
Only three players from the 2011 team will return to the Yavapai College baseball next season, as Smeltzer hopes to put forth a more competitive team in the upcoming season.
"We are starting over. I was very frustrated with last year's team and we didn't ask many of those kids back. We also had a lot of graduation," the coach said. "Hopefully it's a more competitive group of kids. Last year's group was a good group of kids, they just weren't the most competitive people I've been around."
Smeltzer hopes to improve his team's competitiveness by playing more college teams in fall ball, instead of competing against high school scout teams.