Padilla leads the charge during senior season

Senior third baseman Ruben Padilla singles to left field in the third inning against Cal State Dominguez Hills earlier this season. Photo credit: Grant Mahan

Senior third baseman Ruben Padilla is having a season that has turned some heads in the Chico State program.

“This just shows the amount of time put in,” Padilla said. “By the time you are a senior, you should have put in a lot of work.”

The time spent in practice reflects in the results come game day. For Padilla, practice is similar to a game.

“Taking my reps seriously in practice is important,” Padilla said. “Our practices are very much like a game. We go hard from 1:30 to 4:30.”

The work has paid off when it comes to fielding the ball. The third baseman has a fielding percentage this year of .942 and has turned any ball hit his way into an out.

As a senior, Padilla has become a leader among his teammates, giving the team a stronger bond.

“Padilla is someone the younger guys look up to not only because of his performance, but his attitude on and off the field,” said pitcher Robert Engels. “Our team is lucky to have him and I can confidently say we wouldn’t be having the year we are without him.”

Padilla remembers the coach telling him at the start of the season that his role in the lineup was to drive guys in and start rallies.

Padilla has driven in 23 runs so far this season, tying him at third for the team.

Numbers have been impressive for Padilla this year. He has knocked 53 hits and has a batting average of .327. The most impressive stat for the third-spot hitter is his on base percentage of .400.

Padilla doesn’t only produce many opportunities for the team with hits, but is competing against outfielder Ryne Clark for the most hits on the team. Clark has put up 54 hits so far this season. Clark took the lead back from Padilla in the homestand against Cal Poly Pomona.

“We’ve been going back and forth all year,” Padilla said. “It’s fun because we want to beat each other and it helps out the team at the same time.”

The friendly competition between the teammates has pushed them to succeed and motivates each other to keep hitting.

“It’s always been a pretty friendly competition,” Clark said. “We might joke about it and give each other a hard time, but of course we both want each other to do well for the team.”

As for the team, a successful season would be an understatement. The ‘Cats are 35-9 overall and 27-8 in conference play. They’re currently in second place of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. With the wins over Cal Poly Pomona, the ‘Cats secured a playoff berth.

Padilla is one of the 12 seniors who will be graduating after the season ends.

“My time here has been a humbling experience,” Padilla said. “I am so grateful to be a part of two great teams during my seasons here.”

Ryan Grady can be reached at [email protected] or @RyanGrady23 on Twitter.