Oklahoma Wesleyan Outfielder Getting National Attention
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma - Scan the Golden Spikes Award watch list and one name will stick out, Chris Acosta-Tapia, outfielder, Oklahoma Wesleyan.
"I couldn't believe it, really. I always heard about the Golden Spikes, but I never really dig into it. Then I found out what it really was about and I was just like, 'whoa,'" he said.
Acosta-Tapia is one of just two NAIA players on the 55-name list for the award given to the top amateur baseball player in the country.
He’s also the reigning NAIA Player of the Year thanks to a junior season that saw him hit .441 with 24 home runs and 85 RBI.
"I'd never had a year like that, I would say, in my life, so I couldn't believe it sometimes," he said.
Head coach Matt Parker said, "I think he wears the biggest bullseye. Right, wrong or indifferent, he's the national player of the year that's returning and he's the guy on the Golden Spikes watch list."
No non-NCAA Division 1 player has won the award since 2010 when Bryce Harper did it. But Acosta-Tapia is keeping his focus narrow – he calls it tunnel vision.
"Not worry about last year. My accomplishments was, and just focus on this year and focus on every game, every A.B," he said.
As great as Acosta-Tapia's story already is, it doesn't start here. It doesn't start at the junior college he went before here. It starts a little further north than that. As in, north of the border. Acosta-Tapia is from Canada, which can make for some interesting communication with Parker.
"He's thinking of a word, I'm using a different word, and eventually we get caught up and go, yeah, yeah, that's what we meant to each other," Parker said.
But they work it out just fine.
And now, though national awards and maybe even the major leads lay waiting, Acosta-Tapia is quick to credit teammates for success.
"I'm surrounded by good players in the lineup, so I'm not really worried about that,” he said.