After an exceptional season on the next level, former Petaluma High School baseball standout Patrick Hodges is ready to take his baseball career up even another step.

After a strong career at Petaluma High School, Hodges moved up to play for College of Marin, and was so successful that he is now moving on to play Division II baseball at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, Ok.

Hodges is coming off an exceptional sophomore season at College of Marin. He batted .330 with 34 RBIs in 37 games, earning All-Bay Valley Conference and All-Northern California first-team honors as he helped College of Marin to a 29-8 season.

Hodges has already gotten a pretty good taste of what college baseball is like after two years in a quality College of Marin program. "The first year was a little difficult," he acknowledged. "The game sped up."

He also discovered that it was up to him to get better. "I had to be more self-disciplined," is the way he puts it. "It wasn't about practice. It was what you did on your own. The coaches didn't tell you what to do all the time. You pretty much had to do it on your own if you wanted to get better."

And Hodges wanted to get better.

His work paid off. He opened the season by playing second base and designated hitter, but about a third of the way into the campaign, he became College of Marin's regular third baseman. That, in itself was an adjustment for him. He had played some third base at Petaluma High, but was mostly the Trojans' regular second baseman. "The speed and throwing accuracy I needed were an adjustment," he noted. "I had to work on fielding bunts and charging the ball."

Hodges made the adjustment well, and now is looking forward to the next step. "I'm really excited about the challenge of a new experience," he said.

At Northwestern Oklahoma State he will essentially have his education paid for by the university. He will major in liberal arts with an emphasis on behavioral and social science.

Hodges realizes the educational opportunity he has, but his focus is admittedly on baseball.

"My goal is to play major league baseball," he said candidly. "I haven't thought abut anything else. I want to play professional baseball."

Hodges credits Jon Banister, former owner of the Petaluma Batting Cages, for helping his development as a hitter. Banister, at one time, used a barn as an improvised hitting facility. Among others to develop their swings in "The Barn," were Joey and Jonny Gomes, along with his daughter, Sam Banister, who went on to star for a Universi5ty of Arizona NCAA championship team.

"Jon Banister really helped me," Hodges said. "He has been working with me since I was 12-year-old. I learned a lot from him."

Hodges also credited American Legion coach Casey Gilroy with helping him develop as a hitter. "He made me think about my approach, and really tested me as a player in every aspect," he said.

Now, it is Hodges giving lessons.

He has helped with baseball camps at Redwood High School and is working with a couple of young players giving private lessons.

Hodges lives with his mother, Kerry Hodges and aunt Shelagh Hodges, but only until Aug. 12 when he takes off for Oklahoma and the next step up the baseball ladder.