Sports

Junior infielder has history of game in his blood, looks to play professionally

Junior second baseman Chris Townsend has spent the majority of his life around baseball, a t r a d i t i o n that he said he plans on continuing. Tow n s e n d , a Batesville, Mi s s i s s i p p i native, said baseball has been a big part of his family, going back to his grandfather’s brother, his great uncle, who played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the now defunct Negro Leagues.

“My dad played shortstop at Mississippi Valley State University in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s,” he said. “My grandfather’s brother, great uncle Jessie B. Townsend, actually played for the Kansas City Monarchs, a team in the Negro League Baseball. I guess you can say it’s in my blood.”

Townsend was recruited to UCA by former Bears assistant coach Dallas Black, who saw Townsend playing for the Midwest Nationals in Springfield, Missouri.

Townsend said Black invited him to the campus, where he committed. He has played second base for the Bears since then.

However, he hasn’t always been a second baseman. Prior to coming to UCA, Townsend played shortstop in high school.

Townsend said he is happy to play for UCA and to represent one of the more successful eras in UCA baseball history.

“Right now, I’m setting a standard and identity and making history for our program,” he said. “Our program is definitely on the rise still, and now we are trying to make that extra push to get a consistent level of play and make it to Omaha, [Nebraska] to win a national championship.”

Townsend said playing for UCA was definitely a blessing.

“Every day, I thank God for the opportunity He’s given me to be right where I am,” he said. “It’s been a journey, but we’re just trying to do things that have never been done here at UCA, and with hard work and the goodness of God, we are starting to make a name for ourselves.”

The Bears have made back-to-back Southland Conference Championship games, losing 9-4 to the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions last year and having four players drafted to Major League Baseball in the previous two seasons.

Senior infielder Nate Ferrell said it’s a joy to be around Townsend.

“[Townsend] makes the game enjoyable and keeps everything relaxed and loose for us,” he said.

Townsend said his routine for getting ready for games isn’t out of the ordinary.

“I wake up, eat breakfast, go hit a little or do something to wake my body up,” he said. “If I can get a nap in, I will definitely do that, as well. Then I eat lunch, go to the locker room and read a couple scriptures to help get my mind ready to play, say a prayer and go play a game.”

Townsend is majoring in business management, but has aspirations to play professionally. If he can’t, he wants to utilize his degree for a profession.

“I would like to get an opportunity to play professional baseball, but if that doesn’t happen, I will definitely use my degree to find a place of employment where I enjoy, and hopefully own some successful business in the future,” he said.

Last season, Townsend started 50 of 54 games, was an All-SLC Tournament selection and was an honorable mention All-SLC selection at second base.

He hit .281 with 56 hits, 45 RBIs, eight doubles, two triples and one home run.

He drew 25 walks, was hit by a pitch 12 times and had a .976 fielding percent with six errors at second base.

He started 27 of 37 games in his freshman year, hitting .234 as the team’s designated hitter.

The Bears start conference play with a three-game series at 6:30 p.m. March 6 against the Stephen F. Austin State University Lumberjacks in Nacogdoches, Texas.

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