Nathan Sanders and Dallas Bryan didn’t envision themselves back in Dickinson this summer, but sometimes things don’t go as planned and that is especially true for 2020.
The pair, both from Tennessee, helped the Badlands Big Sticks win the Expedition League Championship in 2019, but they were supposed to play elsewhere this summer.
“How do you turn away a kid that hit 15 home runs last summer and a dominant arm on the mound,” Big Sticks head coach Billy Tomblin said.
Sanders was going to play for Hayden Pewett, the Big Sticks coach last summer, in the West Coast League for the Kelowna Falcons in British Columbia, Canada, but the coronavirus pandemic did not allow the West Coast League to have a season.
“We had a great time last year winning the whole thing and the experience was great,” Sanders said. “They started pushing (the West Coast League) back and (Pewett) texted us one day that the season wasn’t going to be played a little bit after the Expedition League season started.”
Sanders, who plays at Middle Tennessee State University, hit .335 last summer with an Expedition League best 15 home runs.
So far, he has played in just six games this year batting right under .300.
Other than a few games this spring, he had almost a year lay off due to showing up to the Big Sticks late, so he hopes to find his groove soon with a few more at-bats.
“It was tough in the beginning and I am feeling more comfortable now after a few games, but I am excited to be here and it is fun,” he said.
Bryan, who played his college baseball last year at Motlow State University, appeared in 24 contests last summer striking out 25. He went 4-0, and fast forwarding to this summer he has already appeared in three games with one save.
Sanders said that Pewett and Tomblin are similar and both very good coaches. Each holds their players to high standards, and he is excited to work with Tomblin for the rest of the summer.
The Big Sticks have already started to lose some players who are going back to school, and most of their roster right now will not be available by Aug. 10. They will bring in more players, but the hope is that Sanders and Bryan can stay through the end of the season.
“We are going to use (Sanders and Bryan) to the biggest extent possible,” Tomblin said. “It has been a small sample size, but we are going to get the most out of them that we can. I think it is awesome when guys want to come back and that speaks volumes about the organization. I think that is pretty special.”