Bombers' Oxley has shown growth

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Southridge grad and Oakland City University baseball player Conner Oxley (32) is in first place in the Ohio Valley League’s North Division with the Dubois County Bombers this summer.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG - It is customary for kids to approach members of the Dubois County Bombers asking them to sign their baseball after games at League Stadium, but when Conner Oxley was younger, he had more access to Bombers players than most kids would.

“Usually, I just hung out with (former Southridge teammate) Patrick Sander, and he had Bombers at his house every year,” Oxley said. “So, I just got to know some of them, and I wanted to be one of them one day, and here I am.”

He doesn’t remember that many Bombers by name, but he does remember them being funny. Oxley also learned a lot from Bombers players when he went to the Youth Camp that they put on.

Many years later, Oxley went to state with Southridge twice, earned his way on to Oakland City University’s baseball team and kids of today are looking to Oxley the way he once looked to previous Bombers.

“It’s crazy because thinking back to whenever I was a kid, I was in their shoes, and now, they’re looking up to me,” he said. “So, I have to watch everything I do and make sure it’s all positive towards making the kids better — especially at Youth Camp.”

Some college baseball players have to deal with being redshirted their freshman season, but not Oxley. He started in 29 games for the Warriors this year, batting .280 with three home runs and 24 RBIs.

Oxley wasn’t without his struggles at the plate, batting below the Mendoza Line at some points in the season, but he worked to turn it on down towards the stretch.

“The pitchers throw harder, they throw three pitches for strikes,” Oxley said. “It’s just very hard to adjust to at first, but by the end of the year, I feel like I adjusted pretty well.”

He’s reaping the benefits of playing at his high school field again, and with some of his former Raider teammates in Tucker Schank, Weston Allen and Chase Taylor. Oakland City is an NAIA school, but Oxley is not only seeing some pitchers he saw in college this year, but also pitchers at the NCAA Division I and Division II levels.

Oxley is looking to improve his defense this summer while playing for the Bombers. He’s trying to improve his footwork and picking the ball as a first baseman. Oxley believes it’s important to be on the same page as his pitcher when it comes to pickoffs — especially at the college level to avoid allowing free bases.

“I’ve lost a little bit of weight because I’ve been going to the weight room at the YMCA (in Ferdinand),” he said. “They gave us a membership here. So, it’s been kind of cool. I’ve lost weight, I feel like I’m quicker on my feet — got better feet work when it comes to ground balls and stuff like that. And it’s all starting to click.”

He’s also made sure to take part in team bonding activities as a member of the Bombers this summer. They play a lot of games, and had the distinction of back-to-back off days on July 5 and July 6. So, Oxley and some of his Bomber teammates went to see “The Forever Purge” in theaters on July 6.

“I feel like if you click off the field, you click on the field as well,” Oxley said. “ (If) everyone gets on the same page, we’ll be dangerous in the playoffs.”




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