Using the summer to sharpen baseball skills

Lincoln’s Brennan Rozell
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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For many high school students summer is a time for kicking back, catching some rays and letting go the pressures of the last nine months – but not for all.

One who has not used his summers to relax is Brennan Rozell. In spite of playing on all three of Lincoln High’s baseball CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championship teams and already being offered a scholarship to play at California State University Long Beach, Rozell uses his summers to play baseball.

“It’s really good to get better reps through the summer,” said Rozell, who will be a senior this year. “We face a lot of hard pitchers that I will face later on in college. So getting good reps is mainly why I continue to play with Nor Cal throughout the summer.”

Nor Cal is part of a national summer travel organization that has produced 44 Major League players, with 10 playing having played in the All Stars Game. Rozell plays with Nor Cal’s Oakland Athletics, along with other seniors from Northern California.

The A’s play teams with players from Hawaii, Southern California, Texas, the Midwest, Southeast, Northeast and other areas.

“The stuff that you learn playing at a higher level; you just pick things up easier and it forces me to play better,” Rozell said. “From freshman year to now I’ve become a lot better baseball player.”

Rozell said he has grown both physically and mentally as a baseball player. Brennan said his baseball IQ started with his father, Brett Rozell, who coached him in Little League. As a freshman, a couple of Brennan Rozell’s friends signed up with Nor Cal leading him to do the same.

Although most comfortable at shortstop, Nor Cal makes him and his teammates play other positions as well. Rozell said that helps expand his knowledge of the game viewing it from other perspectives.

Nor Cal also sharpens his hitting because he has to go up against some of the best pitchers in the country. He said it far exceeds the pitching he faces in high school.

“Playing in high school, especially at Lincoln playing in D-4, you don’t generally face a lot of hard throwing pitchers,” Rozell said. “And Nor Cal, every weekend we’re facing guys that are 86-93 (mph), so it helps when you come back to Lincoln High School it just helps in general seeing that harder pitching.”

As for the Fighting Zebras, Rozell said there is a good chance Lincoln could continue its baseball excellence. He said four of the team’s starters last season were juniors, as well as a number of the Zebra’s pitchers.

“We had a lot of younger pitchers last year so I think that will be a stronger part for us,” the senior said. “Hitting has never been a problem in Lincoln. I think we’ll be good this year again.”