TAMPA, Fla.– Few things electrify a baseball crowd more than watching an outfielder flex his athletic ability and chase down a ball that is seemingly out of reach.
Richie Rivera, centre-fielder for the University of Tampa Spartans of the Sunshine State Conference, continues to impress the fans and coaches with his fielding, showing that defence is crucial in creating a winning culture.
The Spartans currently sit second in the Sunshine State Conference with a team record of 12-4 and are currently riding a three game winning streak.
While playing his freshman and sophomore seasons at the State College of Florida a two-year school, Rivera committed just two errors on 132 defensive chances and this season at the University of Tampa has made just one error on 39 chances, earning him high praise from both his coach and even a major-league Gold Glove winner.
“We have had a lot of great centre-fielders come through the program and (Tampa Bay’s) Kevin Kiermaier, who works out with us in the off-season, says that Richie is one of the best centre-fielders to ever come through,” manager Joe Urso said proudly.
“Getting that compliment from a Gold Glove winner like Kiermaier really says a lot about the player that Richie is.”
Rivera, too, understands where his strengths fit within the fabric of the team and, on the flip side, knows that he has to improve to take his game to that next level.
“My biggest strength is definitely both my speed and my defence,” Rivera said. “I think I need to have some better discipline at the plate though, as I’m kind of struggling there more than I would like right now.”
Which major-league player has inspired him the most throughout his career?The answer came as no surprise.
“I would say Derek Jeter—he always plays the game the right way and has never done anything bad on or off the field so, I would say Jeter is that guy for sure,” Rivera said.