NORTH ADAMS — Tanner Bird can only hope that his magical 2016 baseball season will continue for two more months.
The Adams native, who earned All-America honors at Franklin Pierce this spring, has returned for a second season in the bullpen for the North Adams SteepleCats.
Bird, who had pitched only 12 1/3 innings in college before this season, was a consensus All-East Region selection and was named a Division II All-America by the American Baseball Coaches Association and by the Conference Commissioners Association.
"I'm looking forward to a fun summer with a new group of guys," said Bird, when he checked in Sunday at the North Adams Armory. "I'm excited to get on the field and play again."
Bird and his SteepleCats teammates will open the 2016 season Thursday night at 6:30, when they host New Bedford. Four of the first seven games of the season will be played at Joe Wolfe Field, with the Valley Blue Sox coming Friday night, Danbury on Sunday and Sanford next Tuesday.
Last summer, Bird appeared in 10 games for the SteepleCats, and threw 21 innings. He had a 3.85 earned-run average, but gave up only one run in his final five appearances of the 2015 NECBL season.
Bird was a first-team, All Northeast-10 Conference selection. He joined five Franklin Pierce teammates on the ABCA/Rawlings East Regional team. Bird was a second-team pick on both the ABCA and the CCA All-America teams.
He pitched in 21 games for the Ravens, who won their seventh NCAA Division II regional title and their fifth straight Northeast-10 title. Franklin Pierce was eliminated in the NCAA championships by Central Missouri.
Heading into the final tournament, Bird struck out 71 batters in 64 innings, averaging 9.98 strikeouts per nine innings. He had a 1.55 earned-run average, three saves and an 8-1 record. In the Northeast-10, he led the league in ERA, was fifth in wins, sixth in strikeouts per nine innings, and was 12th in strikeouts.
"I had a better season at school [in 2015], so I'm definitely more confident on the mound," Bird said. "Last year helped me.
"I'm hoping to work on a few things this summer and make more adjustments."
The Adams resident and Hoosac Valley graduate didn't have to worry about finding a host family. That, he said is another good thing about his playing for the SteepleCats this summer.
"I'm at home. Some of these guys travel from all over the country," said Bird. "It's nice to stay at home and play baseball where I grew up."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.