Boyle finds success at Monterey program
April 23, 2015
It wasn't a good fit playing Division II baseball in the Rockies.
After helping lead the Greenwave to their first state title in 30 years, J.J. Boyle signed to play at Adams State (Alamosa, Colo.) but after a redshirt year, he didn't feel ready for that level.
"I didn't feel like I was ready to compete at the Division II level yet, and I didn't feel like I was getting better since I wasn't playing," Boyle said of his experience. "I felt like playing JC (junior college) ball for two years would allow me to better my skills."
While finishing his high school career, though, Boyle felt strongly he was ready for Division II baseball. His statistics were good enough, especially during his senior year when he hit near .400, but he said many schools overlooked him because of his size. Adams State was only one of two Division II colleges to offer Boyle a scholarship.
When it came down to transfer, two colleges were on Boyle's list and he chose Steinbeck Country because of the closer proximity to home and Monterey Peninsula Community College's recent success after winning the conference championship last year.
"I definitely had a chip on my shoulder in that sense going to Monterey," Boyle said. "I wanted to prove to, not only myself, but those who doubted me that I can play at the top collegiate level."
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It took some convincing for Monterey coach Daniel Phillips to believe he received a good product. Phillips was unfamiliar with Boyle but wanted to give him a shot.
"When J.J. arrived in Monterey last year, I had no idea what kind of student or athlete I was getting," he said. "All I knew is that he was looking for a chance to play baseball and continue his education. I had never seen him play and he did not get a lot of action as a freshman."
Boyle, who played first base at Fallon, had to wait his turn when he arrived in Monterey. The sophomore infielder wasn't sure what to expect after facing Division II-caliber baseball in the Rockies.
"The switch was not what I expected at all," said Boyle, a criminal justice major. "I thought the competition level would be low and I would be a starter instantly. That wasn't the case. The competition level was very high and I only got nine at-bats my redshirt freshman year."
Boyle knew what he needed to do in the offseason in order to avoid the same fate at Adams State.
"After my first year at Monterey (and) not getting much playing time, my goal was to earn a starting spot. After that, my main goal was to do whatever I could to help my team win," Boyle said.
This past fall opened his coach's eyes as Phillips saw Boyle transform into a productive hitter.
"I realized he was really developing as a hitter and we needed to find him an everyday position to play," Phillips said.
Although first and third were taken, Phillips wanted to see how Boyle would fare at second. Because of his athleticism, he was able to make the adjustments and help his team.
"His athleticism excelled, and he has been hitting leadoff and playing gold-glove defense all season," Phillips added.
Boyle's numbers this season are impressive. He's batting .350 in 112 at-bats with two home runs and 18 RBIs, which leads the team.
"He has performed far beyond my expectations, but not beyond his own expectations," Phillips said. "J.J. carries himself with a calm confidence and he has always expected to start and perform at a high level."
The ultimate goal for Boyle is to transfer to a Division I school, in particular, the University of Nevada.
Boyle wants to return closer to home and play in front of his friends and family, as well as his high school coaches who helped him along the way. Boyle said his father helped him with his focus and competitiveness, while ex-Fallon coaches Kevin and Robbie Wickware and current Fallon coach Lester de Braga helped refine his skills.
"My competitive nature definitely comes from my dad," Boyle said. "The Wickware brothers in my first two years in high school helped me a lot with my defensive work. I wouldn't be playing second base right now if it weren't for the infield drills we constantly did at practice. I still do all of those drills. When I am hitting, my load is the load I learned my freshman year from Robbie Wickware.
"And, of course, there's Lester de Braga, who coached me from when I was little, not only in baseball, but football as well. He was a great coach and helped me become the athlete I am today."
With the season winding down, Boyle's aware of the challenges in playing for the team he grew up supporting while in Fallon. Nevada, like Boyle, made an over-season transformation to become the best team in the conference this year.
"I've always wanted to play for UNR growing up and the new coaching staff has turned that program into a top contender for the Mountain West Conference," Boyle said. "I'm going to try to walk on at UNR and I'm confident I have the ability to make the team."
For Boyle, the dream isn't impossible as ex-Greenwave star Owen Mackedon was able to do the same last decade and make the Nevada roster.
With confidence riding high for both Boyle and his coach, though, it wouldn't be a surprise to either of them if he's playing at Peccole Park next spring.
"I have received phone calls from other universities, and he has interest from other schools at all levels, but I think he has his heart set on making UNR's team and finishing school back at home," Phillips said. "I would put nothing past J.J. Boyle. He is a stud."