It’s time to get excited about club baseball

USC club baseball is a field of dreams for washed-up little leaguers.

USC Club Baseball struggled last season, but it finished the spring strong when it shutout Long Beach State University 5-0. Club baseball carried the momentum into 2024 as it has already swept UC Irvine. (Bobbi Parry)

As a sports writer, my job is to report on the professional and collegiate sports at USC or to give a University-centered point of view on the athletics that change our lives as students. 


Well … kind of. It’s easy to report on the Juju Watkinses, the Caleb Williamses or the Bronny Jameses of the world, but the tough part is reporting on the niche, University-sponsored sports that surround the Trojan community. As a club sports athlete, I wanted to recognize the hard-working, potentially looked-down-on student-athletes that play and participate in events, still backing the Trojans, like our favorite Division I athletes do.

Fencing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, squash, underwater torpedo — I can go on and on. But do any of you know what all of these have in common? No, they’re not the answers to Connections for the category “Sports I will never play.” They’re all club sports USC offers and, from the top down, ones that our own alumni and students form and run all by themselves.

Instead of focusing on one of these distinct clubs for this week’s edition, we’re going to hone in on America’s pastime: club baseball.

As president and a third-year player for the club baseball team, I am more than familiar with our rules and how our league works. You basically just show up 10 minutes before first pitch, barely stretch, take four practice swings, shotgun a Red Bull, then you’re ready to play. Just kidding. That may have been the case four or five years ago and what people may think of as club sports, but no — we practice three days a week and treat every game like it’s our last. We like to call it “glorified high school baseball.”

Going a modest 3-12 in 2022, then a little better 4-12 the following season, we are on a vengeance this season starting off strong with a series sweep against UC Irvine this past weekend. 

Micah Hiu, a second-year member of the club baseball team and a junior majoring in chemical engineering, was a key member of club baseball’s victories against the Anteaters, throwing five innings of three-run ball with 12 strikeouts. These fantastic numbers helped Hiu win National Club Baseball Association’s Pitcher of the Week for the Southern Pacific West Conference. 

Hiu, who has been playing baseball since he was five years old, said he sees the talent in club ball as pretty similar to high school ball, but notices a talent disparity between this type of baseball compared to actual Division I, II or III programs.

“For me, the level of play was really similar to what we have now, so I guess [high school baseball] is not too different,“ Hiu said. “There is that kind of gap in terms of talent between [Division I] and club ball.”

The talent has to come from somewhere, though. There are numerous guys that play club ball that can easily walk onto mid-major Division I programs. The best team in our division, Cal Poly, ranked No. 4 in the country in the most recent NCBA Division I Rawlings Top 20 Poll, had a guy drafted to the MLB Draft.

Going from club baseball standout to hearing your name called is a dream of a lifetime, and that dream came true for former Mustang pitcher Jason Franks. He played club baseball at Cal Poly his freshman and sophomore years, then walked onto the Division I team and got drafted in 2022 to the Atlanta Braves.

Franks may be an exception, but these underdog stories are apparent all throughout club sports. 

“There’s a lot of talented guys that play club ball, and I think it’s kind of a negative connotation for a not really good reason,” Hiu said. 

Miles Kirshner, a senior majoring in business administration, is a lefty pitcher for the Trojans with the rare combo of speed and power, which sparked his interest in playing at the next level after high school. I guess not, though, because he was only lightly recruited by some junior colleges and a few Division III schools. However, because of his love for the game of baseball, he goes all out every weekend on the field for the Trojans.

“[Club baseball] means people who genuinely love the game of baseball and want to continue playing it even though they know they can’t at the collegiate level,” Kirshner said. “To be able to take the time out of your schedule definitely shows that you actually want to play the game and be there.”

Yeah, these players on the team could’ve maybe had a chance to play at the collegiate level — and some should’ve or would’ve played at the next level — but the ultimate goal of this team is to have fun and prove you’re only young once.

“It’s fun to win, but it’s also fun to have a good group of guys,” Kirshner said.

Darren Parry is a senior writing about club sports athletes and their messages in his column, “Coulda Shoulda Woulda,” which runs every other Tuesday. He is also an assistant sports editor at the Daily Trojan. 

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