Transylvania player puts together special season with ZooKeepers

Trent Youngblood makes a play in the field for the Asheboro ZooKeepers. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

Youngblood comes from Division III, but excels in CPL

ASHEBORO – Coming from a Division III program, it was natural to wonder how Trent Youngblood would fit in with the Asheboro ZooKeepers.

That hasn’t really happened – and that has been a good thing.

It turns out that the versatile infielder has stood out with the ZooKeepers and across the Coastal Plain League as a whole.

“I really just like competing,” Youngblood said. “It was a big adjustment coming from my school to here.”

He’s a rising junior at Transylvania, which is located in Lexington, Ky. He’s from Louisville.

Playing alongside and against players from a variety of Division I teams, Youngblood entered the final week of the season ranked fourth in the CPL with a .340 batting average and shares the league lead with 32 runs batted in.

“He’s obviously killing it,” said ZooKeepers infielder Michael Zarrillo, who plays collegiately for Lafayette. “He just consistently gets barrels.”

Youngblood, 20, said he knew he couldn’t be in awe of the competition if he wanted to have a strong summer on the field. He said he doesn’t dwell on what colleges others attend, the credentials opponents might hold or the idea that some CPL players might be playing in the pros in a couple of years.

“When you’re on the same field, it doesn’t matter what division you go to,” he said. “I’m not going to be intimidated. I tell myself when I get in the box, ‘I’m better than the pitcher.’ I’ve had success and I can hang in there.”

At Transylvania, he holds a .413 career batting average and through two seasons (and 78 total games) is atop the school’s all-time list for slugging percentage and on-base percentage. He bashed a team-high 10 homers in leading the Pioneers in about every offensive category, while – like with the ZooKeepers – he also filled in at times on the mound.

He played a key role on Transylvania’s NCAA regional team in 2021.

ZooKeepers head coach Jeremy Knight said Youngblood needed to see Division I-level pitching for a few games.

“Once he settled in and got adjusted to the speed of the game at this level, he took off,” Knight said. “He let his natural ability take over.”

Despite a dismal record for the Asheboro team, Youngblood said it has been a rewarding season taking on players from higher divisions.

“It’s seeing it on an every-day basis,” he said. “You start to adjust. Being out on the field every day has been awesome.”

In 43 CPL games with the ZooKeepers, he has team highs in doubles (10), triples (3) and runs (33) in addition to his batting average and RBI. His 13 stolen bases trail only Ronald Evans’ 15.

Youngblood hasn’t looked physically out of place in the CPL. He said he arrived as a 140-pound freshman at Transylvania before bulking up.

Naturally, with his last name and his school’s name he’s bound to draw attention, or at least curiosity.

“It makes people’s heads perk up,” he said.

So has his season with the ZooKeepers.

By Bob Sutton