For McNickle, It's a Family Affair

SAINT LEO, Fla. - Lions' Baseball squared off against St. Petersburg College this past weekend to mark the beginning of their fall season and the first fall baseball game with outside competition at Saint Leo in over 10 years. The 10-inning game, which took place on Friday, October 7th, featured a 10-2 win as the Lions started their year on a high note. What made for an interesting twist, however, was the opposing SPC Titans, whose roster features freshman Trey McNickle, son of Saint Leo Head Baseball Coach, Russ McNickle. Only nineteen, Trey began his pitching career during his senior year at Land O' Lakes High School when his coach converted him from a catcher to a side-armed pitcher. Surprisingly, before Friday, Trey had never played on a team that his father coached, nor had he played against him. "I purposely stayed away," said Russ McNickle, "I wanted him to choose to play; not for him to feel like he had to."

As the son of a highly qualified baseball coach, Trey has grown up learning about America's favorite pastime his whole life, even occasionally participating in Saint Leo inter-squad baseball games. However, this was both an advantage and a disadvantage for him during Friday's game, where he threw one inning against five Saint Leo batters. After getting two quick outs, Trey hit one batter and allowed one single before ending a scoreless bottom half of the inning for the Lions. "I thought I did well for just starting out pitching," said Trey of his performance on the mound, "plus we have 23 freshmen and only four sophomores, so we're still getting better as a team."

Before the game, Russ described his mood as "nervously excited," saying "I'm nervous for [Trey] because I want him to be successful, but at the same time I want my guys to win." When asked if he thought the day would ever come to play against his own son, Russ said, "Never, but I'm excited because he's on a team that's very well-coached; this is a good opportunity for him to grow and develop."

McNickle and the Lions will continue their fall campaign on Wednesday, October 19, when they host Hillsborough Community College at 6:00 p.m. 

Saint Leo Softball Junior Katie Gwinn contributed to this story.