One of the newest members of the Saint Michael’s College (SMC) baseball program used to wear the Hornet cap.
St. Mike’s head coach Jim Neidlinger announced this week his 2024 incoming class with Essex High grad Daniel Rickert being on the list.
Rickert and Neidlinger have known each other for much longer than just the recruiting process’ recent years.
“I've known Danny since he was 10 years old, through Williston Central School when he was a young player, so I've known about Danny all the way through,” said Neidlinger. “He came through a few of the camps I did before I opened Bases Loaded. The real connection really started as far as him developing as a player as a 13-year-old Bulldog. He's been in the organization for five years. He was on the inaugural team that started the Bases Loaded Bulldogs. We've had a chance to watch him and the team he plays with, kind of watch them grow as they've matured in the game.”
Another connection at play is that Chris Richards -- the former Essex High baseball coach through the 2019 season -- is also an instructor at Neidlinger’s Bases Loaded Academy in Williston.
While Rickert was listed on Essex’s 2019 roster as an outfielder and a pitcher, he was tabbed as just an outfielder in this week’s announcement of the incoming class.
“He was a little on the fence of not knowing what to do for college, but last year he had a really solid year and he did really, really well,” said Neidlinger. “He's a quality outfielder. The adjustment to college baseball could come a little quicker due to the competition level he has played at during the summers.”
Neidlinger said that it’s been a bit of a focus of his to find recruits from local high schools -- a bill to which Rickert fits.
“When I got the job, my point was to go out and build the most competitive baseball team with strong academic backgrounds and abilities,” he said. “With Legion baseball and the Bulldogs, we hope we can get some kids in Vermont we can go out and recruit, not just because they're great kids but because they can play at the DII level, and hopefully recruit some hometown kids to give Saint Mike's some hometown attractiveness.”
Rickert is among 11 incoming players for a Purple Knights team that looks to bring back the majority of its squad from this spring -- only having graduated one senior.