Romans fitting right in at Northern Kentucky

Andy Harris
Suburbanite correspondent
Josh Romans

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY.  – Entering college, Josh Romans knew how to fight for a starting spot.

As an alumnus of the Jackson High School baseball program, he was used to having to battle top-notch talent for the chance to crack the lineup. Maybe that's why the Northern Kentucky freshman was able to win a starting spot for the Norse as a freshman and has started 15 of his team's first 18 games of the season.

"I would say 100 percent it prepared me," Romans said of high school baseball getting him ready for college. "Coach (Bill) Gamble is an unbelievable coach and I feel like he prepares every kid well for the next level and he's certainly had a big impact on me and the way I prepare. I knew I'd have to fight to start, but to play for a Division I college program and to start was my goal and what I had worked so hard for."

Romans, who was born in Alabama but grew up in Ohio, learned the game alongside players such as Yianni Skeriotis, Dillon Dingler and Kyle Nicolas, all of whom have played Division I college baseball and latter two of whom are now playing minor league baseball.

Seeing competitors like Dingler and Nicolas not only play at a high level, but do the hard work that ultimately led them to play professionally, Romans has gotten a front-row seat to what he needs to do to chase his own  diamond dreams.

"It was nothing but a great experience and to feed off their energy and hard work was great," Romans said. "Getting to play with Dillon and Kyle Nicolas and now seeing them in the minors with their teams, just watching their hard work and how much they put it, it motivates me."

Motivation or not, adjusting to college baseball is still a big jump for any player and Romans had seen firsthand the difficulties it can pose. He admits that making the transition as a hitter is more difficult even though adjusting in the field is also tough.

Facing college pitchers, who have more pitches in their arsenal and throw harder than high school hurlers, has made for some tough at-bats. With a .190 batting average, Romans is working to find his groove at the plate and in the interim, he's been solid in the field with just one error.

Hits have been harder to come by than in high school, but the memories of both his first hit and his biggest college hit to date are fresh in Romans' mind.

An RBI double in the season opener against East Tennessee State went down as the first hit of his college career, but it was his first at-bat of the next game that would provide an even bigger highlight.

"My first college hit was a double, but my most memorable hit so far was my first home home run the next day," Romans recalled. "I'm not a home run hitter and I had no home runs high school, so I'n not used to rounding the bases like that."

The home run came on a 2-2 pitch and Romans turned the four-seam fastball around and sent it over the left-center field fence to stake the Norse to a 2-0 lead. It's the sort of play Romans would love to see more of as his career progresses and one that's served as a highlight of his first year in college.

He doesn't get to have a normal first year of college due to the COVID-19 pandemic that also wiped out his senior season in high school, but since he didn't experience college life pre-pandemic, he has no point of comparison and is still enjoying college life as much as possible while sticking to health and safety guidelines.

Off the field, he's majoring in business but notes that he's still deciding what direction he wants to go academically, the same way so many college students use their first year or two on campus to decide their trajectory. Being able to be on the field and play the sport he loves has helped the first year go more smoothly and with a few big moments already under his belt, Romans has a solid beginning to what looks to be a successful college career in the making.