• Riley Zayas

Lamar's Weyler Confident After Winning Texas Collegiate League Batting Title

Updated: Sep 2

Editor's note: College Baseball Nation is joined by guest writer, Riley Zayas, for coverage of the Texas Collegiate League. Riley Zayas is a high school freshman and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kid reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports magazine and website. He is passionate about all things sports and can be followed on Twitter at @ZayasRiley

Kelby Weyler (Photo Credit: Lamar University Baseball)

Family is a key part of Kelby Weyler’s life. It was one of the main reasons why he ended up transferring to Lamar after one season at Rice. Over the course of the past two months, after 32 games, and contests in three states, Weyler has found a second familyhis summer baseball league family, the Brazos Valley Bombers. The coaches, his teammates, the atmosphere at Travis Field, have all contributed to make this his “best summer yet.”


“I’ve loved playing here,” said Weyler. “This is for sure the best summer ball experience of my life.”


It’s not hard to understand why. Weyler has been the starting shortstop for the South Division champions, helping the Bombers to two straight victories over San Antonio earlier this week to clinch a spot in the Texas Collegiate League Championship game. On top of that team success, he has also etched his name into the record books, winning the league batting title with a regular season average of .367.

“I’ve loved playing here. This is for sure the best summer ball experience of my life.” -Kelby Weyler

Throughout the season, the battle for the top batting average was a battle back and forth between Weyler and Round Rock’s Ryan Hernandez. Heading into the final game of the season against Victoria Sunday night, he controlled his own destiny. Hernandez’s season was over; a result of the decision by Round Rock to cancel the remainder of its season. All Weyler needed was a 2-for-4 day at the plate, and he would jump from .362 to .367, besting Harnandez’s mark of .364. Prior to that night’s game, he described himself as anxious, just wanting to get out there and start the game, while also keeping in mind how crucial this final game was to the Bombers’ playoff goals.


“It was a little bit of both,” said Weyler. “I wanted to win that game so we could clinch that spot but in the back of my mind, I knew I needed to have a good night, go 2-for-4, to win it, It was more an anxious feeling. I was ready to get locked in and go out there and play. I wasn’t pressing to get hits or anything, I just stayed with my same approach but I knew in the back of my mind [what I had to do]. After that first at bat, I knew ‘If I start the game with a hit, I’m definitely winning it’.”


Not coincidentally, that night also marked a great moment in team history as well, as Brazos Valley clinched the regular season South Division title, punching their ticket into the TCL playoffs with an 11-1 victory.


That high level of success, six TCL titles in the last seven seasons, has started with the coaching staff. Former head coach Brian Nelson, who served as league commissioner in 2020 and recently announced that he would join Oakland University as an assistant, was a key piece in that success. He was the team’s head coach for both the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Now in 2020, former assistant James Dillard has taken over. Weyler attributes a large amount of the team’s chemistry this season to the coaching staff and their player-first approach.


“I’m really thankful for the opportunity my coaches have given me,” said Weyler. “They have been really good, they’ve treated us really well and done a great job of letting us work on what we need to work on each game. That’s really nice to see here in summer ball. If we need to work on something one day, they’re not drilling us about ‘You need to do this and that’, but rather just letting us know “You got it, keep working on what you need to work on’.”

Kelby Weyler (Photo Credit: Lamar University Baseball)

That attitude has allowed players like Weyler to have breakout seasons at the plate, and their consistent approach has led to a .267 team batting average. In fact, in the two-game playoff series against San Antonio, the Bombers totaled 13 hits, and 19 walks. On Wednesday night in Bryan, Texas, the Bombers won the South division title, in front of their home crowd.


“It was awesome,” Weyler said of Wednesday’s win. “Whenever it is a playoff game, everybody just gives a little bit more. It was a great atmosphere both at San Antonio and at home, and we got after it early and were able to maintain those leads. It was a lot of fun and was a great atmosphere to be a part of.”’


For Weyler, this summer has been just the beginning of what looks to be a successful college career. He has not yet played a full season of college baseball, though he will be a senior this fall. He suffered a season-ending injury during his freshman year at Rice, sat out the next while transferring and saw Covid-19 sweep away what was shaping up to be a promising campaign in 2020. Despite all of this, Weyler sees the transition from Rice to Lamar as a major positive, not only because it brought him closer to family but also because it gave him a full year to improve his craft before officially suiting up for the Cardinals.


“My main decision mostly was so that I could be closer to family,” Weyler told College Baseball Nation. “I’m a big family guy. I went in at Rice and played opening weekend actually. Then I got hurt and was out for the season. I was living in Houston, obviously during baseball season, you’re just staying there and I wasn’t real happy with not being able to see family and friends, and I wasn’t playing either. I was pretty histstant to transfer because I was going to have to sit out another year, after having sat out almost my whole freshman season when I got hurt. I was thinking, ‘Do I want to go through that again?’ Ultimately, transferring was the best decision for me. I got another year under my belt, get to train and focus and refine my whole game. Coming into this year, I realized having to sit out wasn’t that terrible because my hitting coach and I pretty much built my swing and got it to where it is now and I’ve been able to find success with it. {Transferring] was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”


That new swing has shown improvement in big ways, and will continue heading into the TCL Championship against Tulsa, scheduled for Saturday night in Bryan. Weyler will look to help his team finish this summer on a high note, hopefully earning the franchise’s seventh championship title. Currently, the Bombers are riding a five game win streak, playing competitive baseball, and feature a squad that wins games by committee, with everyone contributing.


Regardless of win or lose, though, Weyler is simply appreciative of the opportunity he has been given this summer, especially when the majority of premier leagues across the country have cancelled their seasons.

Kelby Weyler (Photo Credit: Lamar University Baseball)

“It has been really cool that we’ve been able to play,” said Weyler. “For 9 of the 10 teams in the league to finish the season, that’s been pretty awesome. The level of play that we’ve been playing at has been so high. Typically everyone is spread out across the country but right now, since we’re one of the only leagues playing we have some premier arms, premier position players playing right here in our league. It’s been really cool to get that experience.”


As he heads into next season representing Lamar, Kelby Weyler will use the momentum he has gained over this summer to help him claim a starting role with the Cardinals and hold his own in what he hopes to be his first full season at the college level.

"I’m definitely going to go in with some confidence and momentum and feel really prepared going into my first full season next year.” -Kelby Weyler

“I know [playing in the TCL] has given me a little more confidence going into it, knowing what I can do. I’m definitely going to go in with some confidence and momentum and feel really prepared going into my first full season next year.”

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