BACK FOR MORE: Former St. Paul star Dwight Tardy, who played football at
Washington State, is having a rebirth playing baseball at Mt.SAC.
(Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
WALNUT – This season has been a rebirth of sorts for the Mt. San Antonio College baseball team.
The Mounties are fresh off winning their first outright conference title since 1969 and enter this weekend’s California Community College Athletic Association playoffs as one of the favorites to advance to the state final four.
It’s also a rebirth for freshman outfielder Dwight Tardy, who after a four-year career playing football at Washington State is getting a second chance, this time as a baseball player at Mt. SAC.
“I had a pretty good career in football,” said Tardy, a former St. Paul High School star who rushed for more than 2,000 yards while playing 38 games for Washington State from 2006-09. “I figured I’d give baseball a shot. This is a second opportunity for me to do something (and make a) career in sports. I want to try and get to the minor leagues, and if I don’t, at least I gave it a shot and had a good college career in baseball.”
Tardy, 25, has been a boost for the Mounties, who went 28-8 during the regular season and won the South Coast Conference.
He has been a key for the Mounties both on and off the field. On it, he gives Mt. SAC a speed threat.
Tardy, who rushed for 2,272 yards his senior year at St. Paul, is hitting .302 from atop the batting order while also ranking among the state leaders in stolen bases with 18 in 19 attempts.
But his best attribute for the Mounties might be his leadership role.
Tardy has already accomplished something his teammates aspire to – getting a Division I scholarship.
“With him being a bit older, the other guys look up to him,” Mt. SAC coach Stacy Parker said. “They know he’s been a big-time Division I athlete and being in a larger setting than we are in. He became someone they looked up to and he’s done a good job of leading by example and how he performs and how he takes care of his business.
“As a baseball player, he brings a lot of speed that we didn’t have. He’s got 18 steals, and been an outstanding leadoff guy as far as getting walks or hit by pitch. But it’s just his energy level and intensity that sets the stage for the rest of team.”
It wasn’t an easy transition for the freshman, who after completing a four-year career at Washington State was in sort of a sports’ purgatory.
Then the phone rang.
It was Mt. SAC assistant George Barnes, who had an offer for Tardy.
It didn’t take long for him to accept.
“I was done playing football and I really wanted to play some baseball,” Tardy said. “I felt I’m still a young athlete and wanted to be part of a team. I basically wanted to see if I could get offered again. I was offered to play baseball (out of high school) and chose football. I talked to coach Barnes and he got me over here, and that’s how this all started.”
But there was definitely a transition since it had been about six years since Tardy had stepped on a baseball diamond with an organized team.
“It was rough at the beginning (during the fall),” Tardy said. “It’s been six years since I’ve played baseball, so there definitely was a transition, especially baseball being a game where you fail more than you succeed.
“I succeeded a lot more than I failed in football, and this was different. But every day I got better.”
Tardy saw the rewards once the regular season started, both for him personally and the Mounties. And now he hopes to add to it, beginning with this weekend’s CCCAA regional series against Golden West.
“It’s been a privilege to be out here and accomplish something that Mt. SAC hasn’t been able to accomplish (in 40 years),” Tardy said. “It feels good to be a part of this. It’s a special group of guys. We’re all on the same track. We all have the same goal in mind, which was to win the conference, and now to win state.
“I had a lot of challenges to come back. Everyone’s been real patient with me. I’ve turned a few corners, and I’m just glad I’m able to contribute and help this team win.”