Matt Page, former baseball player for Serra High and Skyline College, was a standout for Oklahoma Baptist University this season, leading all NAIA schools with 85 RBIs and ranking in the top-20 in five categories nationally.
Matt Page’s sophomore year at Skyline College was ruined by injuries which all but derailed his Division I baseball prospects.
But being a firm believer of things happening for a reason, Page did not let the subpar season ruin his career. He got a full scholarship to Oklahoma Baptist University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school in Shawnee, Okla., and translated it into the season of his life.
Not only was he named the Sooner Athletic Conference Player of the Year, he was honored as the national NAIA Player of the Year.
“You can never expect to have this great a year and all these awards,” Page said. “I always felt I was capable of this. I just went out and played and everything took care of itself.”
Page said he was sitting in his grandmother’s home in Medford, Ore. when he got the news of the national award.
“I was in my grandma’s living room when my coach called. I thought it was weird. I thought he was calling about a recruit I might know,” Page said. “I was shocked to hear I was the conference player of the year. I thought my teammates were messing with me. (Finding out I won the national award) was pretty insane.”
Page’s numbers are eye-popping. He hit .385 with a .498 on-base percentage this season and his 85 RBIs led all NAIA schools this season. He hit 15 home runs, which tied for fifth in the nation. Overall, he was top-20 in the nation five categories.
Not bad for a guy who struggled — mightily — last year at Skyline. He got hit on the elbow a few weeks before the start of the 2012 season with the Trojans, suffering a massive muscle contusion. He declared himself ready just two days before the start of the season, despite knowing otherwise.
“I was a singles hitter (in 2012),” Page said.
As his elbow finally started feeling better, he strained his Achilles tendon.
“I was wrapped up like a mummy,” Page said.
He finally started to find his groove late in the season, hitting his only three home runs over the final couple weeks.
As such, college scouts and managers weren’t beating down his door.
But then fate intervened. Page attended a camp at Sacramento State, where his Skyline manager Dino Nomicos said Page might get a chance to walk on. But he did not enjoy his experience.
“I texted my mom saying how I really didn’t like it (at Sac State) and that I guess we’re back to square one,” Page said. “Literally five minutes later, I got a call from the Oklahoma Baptist coach. He wanted to talk to me that night. He offered me (a scholarship) that night and I signed it.
“That was the only (four-year) offer I got.”
Despite the fortuitous turn of events, Page’s time in Oklahoma got off to a rocky start. He still wasn’t himself and performed miserably during fall ball.
“When I got there for the fall, my body felt good, but my swing was awful,” Page said. “I think I was 5 for 40 (during scrimmage games).”
He said he never lost his confidence, but did have some heart-to-heart talks with the Oklahoma Baptist hitting coach and manager. With his hitting coach, they talked about their philosophies toward hitting each had and worked to find a middle ground.
His manager never lost confidence in Page either.
“[He] basically said, we’re counting on you to be in the middle of our order. … We have full confidence in you.”
But just to add to Page’s abysmal 2012 year, he suffered a hamstring injury late in the fall ball season that cost him another couple months of rehab time.
When the calendar finally turned to 2013, Page turned the page as well. After going, by his estimation, oh-fer in his Bison debut, he finally got locked in during the second game of the season, hitting the first of his 15 homers and just never stopped.
Page will spend the summer playing for the Medford Rogues in the West Coast League, a collegiate wood-bat league. He doesn’t anticipate being drafted in this week’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and plans on returning Oklahoma in the fall to help the Bison to the NAIA World Series.
“The best way is to take everything as it comes,” Page said. “I’m not going to change anything. Hopefully I can have a similar year (next season).”