During Blinn College’s historic 2023 campaign, Connor McGinnis played arguably the toughest position in baseball: spectator.

One year later, the sophomore second baseman has been nothing short of spectacular.

McGinnis, from Frisco, Texas, is fully recovered from an injury that ended his first season as a Buccaneer and has returned in full force, providing massive pop, reliable contact, a steady on-base presence, and sturdy defense for a ninth-ranked Blinn squad looking to return to the Junior College World Series

“Being out last season wasn’t fun,” said McGinnis, who was away from all baseball activities for three months while recovering in 2023. “You go from having a big freshman season to sitting out, and it was tough.”

Expectations were high for McGinnis last season after he put together a strong debut in 2022 under head coach Dusty Hart at Grayson College. The left-handed slugger hit .324 with a .413 OBP, 12 homers (tied for the team high), 12 doubles, two triples, 44 RBIs (tied for second on the team), and 10 stolen bases.

When Hart was hired to take over the Blinn program, McGinnis made the jump to Brenham. However, while the Hart-led Buccaneers went on an incredible run that ended with a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA Division I Baseball World Series, McGinnis was preparing for his comeback.

“I was proud of the guys, but it was definitely hard to be on the sidelines for that,” McGinnis explained. “That was the first time Blinn went to Grand Junction (Colo.) in a while, and that kind of season doesn’t happen a whole lot. I wanted to be a part of it with those guys. But hey, I’m here now, so let’s go back again.”

Connor McGinnis Home Run 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn sophomore Connor McGinnis watches his home run against McLennan on Feb. 18, 2024)

McGinnis is doing his best to make sure the Bucs book a return flight.

Seemingly unaffected by his year-long absence, McGinnis has picked up where he left off two seasons ago. His 71 hits, .392 batting average, and .511 on-base percentage are tops on the team, while his 14 homers are tied for the club lead. McGinnis has added 11 doubles, a pair of triples, 42 RBIs, and a team-high 65 runs scored while mostly hitting second in the lineup. For his efforts, McGinnis was recently named the Region XIV South Zone co-Player of the Year as well as the coveted Region XIV Player of the Year.

Hart said the addition of McGinnis to his team while at Grayson was a no-brainer. Having spent part of his childhood in Sherman, Texas – a mere 5 1/2 miles from the Grayson campus – McGinnis was quite familiar with Hart’s success with the Vikings, while Hart was within earshot of the positive rumblings emanating from McGinnis’ play.

“Connor’s brother and my youngest son played ball together, and Connor was 11 or 12 years old coming to those games,” Hart recalled. “It seemed like every time he was at a ballpark he’d end up finding an empty field nearby and go take some swings or find ways to work on other parts of his game. He was constantly working, and it showed how much he loved the game and how much he loved to play.”

By the time McGinnis reached high school, he was both a talented prep athlete and a standout on a national Select team loaded with NCAA Division I talent. Hart said he was quick to offer McGinnis a place on his roster and even luckier to land him.

“He has that prototypical, beautiful left-handed swing,” Hart said. “He made contact all the time on all sorts of pitches, and even when he didn’t get on base, he made hard outs. He was constantly smoking balls right at guys. It’s easy to notice when a guy plays hard and hits the ball hard like that.”

Connor McGinnis 2023-24
(Pictured: Blinn sophomore Connor McGinnis tags a baserunner during a game against Coastal Bend on March 3, 2024)

While McGinnis’s offensive talents have blossomed, he has proven equally impactful on defense this spring, assisting on 20 double plays while committing just six errors in 157 chances.

Following two fantastic years of junior college baseball, McGinnis will attend the University of Houston as a member of the Cougars baseball team in the fall. Even as he prepares to achieve his goal of being a Power 5 conference collegiate baseball player, McGinnis wears a constant reminder never to take himself, or the game that he loves, too seriously.

“Do you remember those Nike Elite socks?” McGinnis asked. “Well, I’ve been wearing a bunch of different pairs of those throughout the season. You can’t see them because I wear long pants on the field, but just the other day I was wearing some pink and gray ones during the game.”

Although his socks rarely match the rest of the Buccaneers’ distinctive blue and white color scheme, McGinnis’ brand of baseball has been a perfect fit for Blinn.

“First I’ve heard of that,” Hart said of McGinnis’ footwear superstition. “It’s funny to hear what some of these guys do, but we preach to the players about having a routine and something that gets them ready to play every day, and Connor McGinnis is ready to play every day.”

McGinnis and the Buccaneers (37-14) are set to continue their season with the start of the Region XIV South Regional tournament. Blinn, the host of the tournament and top seed in the four-team bracket, hosts Panola College at 2 p.m. Thursday at Leroy Dreyer Field in Brenham.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 47 NJCAA national championships since 1987.

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