COOS BAY — Adam Inouye was off to a phenomenal start in this sophomore season for Southwestern Oregon Community College’s baseball team this spring when the coronavirus pandemic ended the season prematurely.
“This year, we had an amazing start,” Inouye said of the Lakers, who won eight of their first 12 games. “I really loved the group of guys. We were just starting to get comfortable with each other.”
Understandably, the end of the season was particularly frustrating for Inouye, who returned home to Vancouver, British Columbia, when SWOCC closed its on-campus learning for the rest of the school year.
But things are looking up for the future for Inouye, who will extend his career at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Inouye signed a letter of intent to play for the Urban Knights starting in the fall.
Because the spring season was cut short, Inouye will have three seasons with Academy of Art University.
“I really like the unique academic part of the school,” he said. “They really focus on the social media arts. They are a really good communications school.”
Academy of Art University, he also noted, is the art school with an NCAA baseball program — the Urban Knights play at the Division II level.
Inouye had a lot of momentum early in the NWAC season this spring. He had 13 walks in the 12 games, which led all of NWAC, and also was hit by pitch twice and scored nine roads. He also led NWAC with eight stolen bases.
“Since I’m not the biggest person on the field, I’ve been trying to work on my speed, either with my hands in fielding or working on takeoffs,” said Inouye, who even studied track and field techniques to give him the best advantage.
As good as he was getting on base, Inouye’s biggest strength has always been fielding.
“He is a high-, high-caliber defensive player,” SWOCC coach David Deutschman said. “I haven’t coached an infielder that is as well-rounded in the dirt as Adam.”
Inouye won the Gold Glove as a freshman and also was a second-team all-conference selection.
“He makes every routine play and also a couple times a weekend makes a play that other shortstops at our level don’t make,” Deutschman said. “And you just go, ‘Wow, Adam doing Adam.’”
Inouye has always loved playing shortstop.
“I’ve always felt if I see an opportunity (to make a play), I will see it right away,” he said. I feel like the ball in the game slows down for me.
“I remember in high school, there was a line drive play that I made and I felt like I had so much time to make it and my teammates said, ‘How did you ever see it?’”
While Inouye is looking forward to moving from Oregon’s Bay Area to the Bay Area in California, he is grateful for his time at SWOCC.
“Coming from Canada, at first I was a little reserved,” he said. “The coaches and the teammates that I’ve had over the year and a half have really brought a new light, not only on the field, but off the field personally," he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Coming from the big city, he also enjoyed the small-town feel of Coos Bay and the SWOCC campus.
“I liked slowing down and being able to focus on baseball and schoolwork and building a relationship with the people around me,” he said, adding that he also enjoyed “being surrounded by the beaches and seeing things I don’t see in a big city like Vancouver.”
Inouye is back in Vancouver, taking classes online like all the other SWOCC students.
He said knowing he has baseball to look forward to next school year has been a positive in a difficult year because of the pandemic.
“It’s definitely a big motivational drive for me,” he said. “If I didn’t have a place to go next year, maybe I would lose (my educational focus). It’s a good goal to keep in mind.”
Meanwhile, Deutschman and the SWOCC coaching staff also are looking forward after a disappointing end to what was projected to be the team’s best in many years.
“It will be tough to fill (Adam’s) shoes, but one thing this quarantine has allowed for us as a coaching staff is extra time to pick the right guys to bring to our community and continue to build on an already good recruiting class,” he said.