Infielder from Clark County thrilled to be playing for Ridgefield this summer
It has been more than 20 days now since the Ridgefield Raptors opened their baseball season.
Tanner Jacques started the campaign on a 10-day contract.
Shhhhh. Don’t tell anyone. He’s still here.
Oh, and it does not appear that he is going anywhere.
“I haven’t signed anything yet but the coaches asked me if I wanted to be here for the rest of the season. I’m assuming I’ll be here the rest of the season,” Jacques said. “Nothing’s on paper, which is why I haven’t said anything. I don’t want to overstep.”
According to his coaches, Jacques better stay with the Raptors.
Late Tuesday night, after the Raptors lost the first game in a three-game series against Yakima Valley at the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex, the coaches sang Jacques’ praises.
They respect his talent. They are thrilled with the way he is performing. And they absolutely love his attitude.
It was about midway through his contract when he was asked to stick around.
“I was ecstatic. I jumped on that as quickly as possible before he could change his mind,” Jacques said. “After that, I made sure to keep playing like I was playing. It worked out for me.”
Even as the roster has expanded, as more and more college players joined the West Coast League, Jacques remains a fixture in the lineup. Versatility helps. He can play shortstop, second base, or third base.
“I’m going to do my best and hopefully my best is good enough,” he said.
His best means he is sharing the field with players who will be drafted into professional baseball. Some might even make it to the major leagues.
Jacques is one of the handful of Raptors who is from Clark County. A 2017 graduate of Skyview High School, he has one more year of eligibility at Linfield University. If he could, he would play baseball forever. More than likely, though, he will be done in the next 10 months or so.
Which is why he is enjoying every at bat, every ball hit his way in the infield, and every day he is in the lineup.
He is grateful that Linfield baseball got a full season in the spring. He hit a bump early in the college campaign but found his swing again late. Under normal circumstances, that would have been his final year of college ball. But with the pandemic wiping out the 2020 season, Linfield and college baseball gave student-athletes the option for another year. Jacques could not resist another opportunity, another year.
Which also meant he was eligible for another season of summer ball. The West Coast League is a wood-bat league for players with college eligibility. Jacques wanted to maintain his baseball momentum. As a bonus, he got the opportunity to play just a few miles north of where he played high school ball.
He has old teammates cheering him on. He sees parents of close friends all the time. His family is there, too, of course. One of his neighbors even works for the Raptors.
“It’s cool just being a local kid and seeing everyone I grew up with,” Jacques said.
At first, it was only supposed to be for 10 days.
“In a way, yes, it did feel like a tryout. But I was just having fun,” Jacques said. “Honestly, I was just having so much fun, and I think that had a lot to do with my performance in general. It wasn’t a big stressful environment. It was just ‘relax, play my game,’ and that’s what I did.”
Through 14 games, he is hitting .302 and has driven in 11 runs. In the field, playing those demanding positions, he has one error.
That is how one stays with a team beyond his contract in the WCL.
“I’ve been playing since I was 5 years old. I’m 21 now and turning 22. Baseball is a great experience. There are times it is the worst game, and I just love it,” he said. “I never want to leave the game. I love it.”
The plan is to return to Linfield for another season, then find work in physical therapy. In his off hours, Tanner Jacques will volunteer, help out, coach, or do “whatever I can to stay around the game.”
Just like he plans to stay around the Raptors this summer.
“My whole goal is just to stay healthy, have fun, and just enjoy it because I only have one year left,” he said.
The Raptors will take on Yakima Valley at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday and 6:35 p.m. Thursday at the RORC. Yakima Valley, at 8-2, has the best record in the WCL. … The Raptors, 8-5 in league games, are in second place in the South Division, a game behind Corvallis. … The Raptors will be on the road, but nearby, for a weekend series against the Portland Pickles. The Raptors will return home next Tuesday for a three-game series against Bellingham.