Tommy Bullock’s first season playing college baseball had its ups and downs – mostly down.
So to get his confidence back, Bullock is spending the summer working on his game, and having a little fun while doing so.
Bullock, who played at Mooresville High, is back for his second season with the Carolina Vipers of the Southern Collegiate Baseball League, a summer wood-bat league that plays its home games at Charlotte Latin and draws players from across the nation.
“I’m taking a relaxed approach, and having a good time,” said Bullock, who starts at second base for the Vipers. “B.J. (Hagen, assistant coach) and (head coach Aaron) Bray, they make it pretty fun and laid-back.
“That’s what I’m trying to do; have a laid-back approach and have some fun.”
Bullock needs that, considering what he’s been through the past six months.
After finishing up his high school career by earning all-conference honors with the Blue Devils, Bullock headed off to college, planning on continuing his baseball career with N.C. Central.
But in his first couple months at N.C. Central, Bullock lost that feeling of comfort. He wound up transferring over the winter to Pitt Community College.
“Just a comfortability thing,” Bullock said of his decision to leave N.C. Central. “I just wanted to get comfortable somewhere, and Pitt was a good option.”
However, the transition didn’t go as well as Bullock expected.
After batting .448 with 25 RBIs and eight home runs in his senior year at Mooresville in 2015, Bullock struggled in his first year of college ball. At Pitt, he hit just .203 with 10 RBIs and one home run.
“It was definitely a hard move, but it was something I needed to do to get comfortable,” Bullock said. “I found a good spot at Pitt. The numbers didn’t reflect it, which is why I wanted to come out here and get with Bray and have him help me out.”
Bullock had played for the Vipers after his senior year at Mooresville, and earned a spot in the SCBL’s All-Star Game. He finished that season batting .327 (third-best on the team), with a team-high 34 hits and eight doubles, and was second in runs scored with 22.
That’s the level Bullock wants to get back to heading into his second season at Pitt, and he’s looking to Bray to help him get there.
“We’ve known Tommy for four or five years now,” Bray said. “I honestly didn’t expect to see him back this year. I thought he’d go to a better summer league.
“I guess he felt a little uncomfortable this past year, but the whole adjustment from high school to college is huge. He had a good year over the summertime, but I don’t know if something happened in switching schools.
“So we’ve been working on a couple things before we take BP (batting practice), working in the cages, trying to get him comfortable again.”
So far, what Bray and Bullock have been working on seems to be paying off.
After a rough start to the 2016 SCBL season, Bullock is hitting .345 through games of June 20, with a team-high 16 runs scored. He’s also tied for the team lead in hits (19), and is second in both doubles (six) and RBIs (11).
“It’s a 50-50 situation. If you don’t feel comfortable, you’re definitely going to lack in the confidence department as well,” Bullock said. “So coming back here for the summer, and having Bray help me get comfortable at the plate, it’s really helping me a lot.
“I definitely feel the comfortability coming back, and definitely the confidence. It’s definitely showing at the plate … but in my demeanor as well.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer: BKiserCLTObs@gmail.com.