2018 OF Riley Lambert (Midway HS)

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Texas Writer

WACO - “Passing the eye test has been a problem.”

That is how Midway senior Riley Lambert assesses the problem of finding the right college to play baseball.

“They see my size and think I’m just a quick runner with a decent arm and a decent bat,” the 5-9 160-pounder said. “They’re missing the boat.”

Lambert has always been a baseball guy.

“It’s the first thing I did with family,” Lambert reflected. “My dad played in high school and my uncle played in college, so I just grew up playing it.”

There is a similarity between Lambert and his uncle, Grant Lambert.

“He was a left-handed hitter just like me,” Lambert said of his relative that played at Temple College.

But there is more to the game of baseball that stands out to Lambert than just emulating family members.

“The camaraderie of a baseball team is something I see as so different than in other sports,” Lambert noted. “I just love it.”

His ability soon began to match his interest in the game.

“I’ve always loved hitting,” Lambert said. “Todd Haney has coached me since I first started playing Select around 10 or 11. I owe my skills gained since that time to him, especially on the hitting side.”

Until sophomore year, Lambert was a middle infielder.

“Coach suggested I switch to the outfield where I could be effective,” the speedy Lambert explained. “Occasionally it gets boring in the outfield, but now I’m beginning to enjoy it more.”

No matter the position, the drive to play in college is and has always been there.

“I’m really determined to play at the next level,” Lambert said. “Once I get there, they’ll get all I have. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to play at the college level. I want to keep playing for as long as I can.”

The realization it could happen became stronger in the last nine months.

“I played with Team Texas this past summer,” the 158th-rated senior in the state noted. “I was playing with good competition. There were a lot of good players on my team that had signed with Division I teams and I was keeping up with them, so it is achievable.”

College interest came from a pair of PBR events including an offer from Navarro College, a program that has been to a pair of JUCO World Series in the last seven years, winning one national title.

“I just didn’t pull the trigger,” admitted Lambert, whose money offer was given elsewhere after due time.

So the Midway senior continues to try and make contact with colleges, all the while working to better his game.

“My high school coach has been great in helping me talk to coaches,” said Lambert, who plans to visit Hope Junior College soon. “As for what else I’m doing, my speed is okay and my defense is fine, so I’m working on improving my offensive approach. I need to keep more consistent at the plate. I’m also trying to gain size and strength.”

At this stage of recruitment, Lambert is more than likely heading to a junior college.

“That seems the most realistic right now,” Lambert said. “Then I can go play Division I after that.”

McLennan Community College is a possibility.

“They watched me in the summer in Joplin, Missouri at a national tournament with Premier Baseball and they went to some of my practices this fall,” Lambert said. “They want me as a walk-on.”

A decision, according to Lambert, will come closer to summer.

“I plan to wait until the end of the (spring) season,” Lambert said. “I’ll see if any other schools have been in contact and then make a decision.”

MCC assistant coach Chris Berry has no qualms about Lambert passing the eye test.

“Coach Berry said anytime a big inning starts it seems to start with you,” Lambert noted. “I think colleges are missing out on a potential leadership-guy, a get-on-base guy who will draw a walk or get a hit when it’s needed most.

“I think mainly they need to look past size. Don’t get me wrong, it can be important when a coach is looking for a guy to hit it this far or throw it this hard. But there are guys out there you see with desire and hustling, smaller guys that have more determination. Too often the bigger guys get more handed to them while the little guy is out there with more grit working harder.”

Lambert is just looking for the right opportunity.

“It’s discouraging to see players sign that I’m better than, and discouraging to not have the interest I think I should,” Lambert said. “But I’m not giving up yet. I still have time.”


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