Travis Young grew up in Wichita, Kan., and even played college baseball at his hometown school, Wichita State University.

But for his senior season, Young wanted to go in a different direction. It led him to UAFS, where he has immediately grown to like his new home.

"I came down here and I liked it, and (redshirt freshman Logan) Easley, he came from Wichita State, we were good friends so it just felt right," Young, a senior outfielder for the Lions, said. "I wanted to play one more year of ball, it's my last year so I'm glad I did.

"Everything happens for a reason, and I'm glad I'm here."

While Young admittedly misses his hometown, at the same time, he just wanted to go in a different direction. And as far as he's concerned, Young is still playing baseball somewhere.

"It was hard and I definitely miss (Wichita) and I try to go back as much as I can, but it's still baseball," Young said. "You don't want to make it seem like a job, but that's what I came here for, that and to finish school (where he is majoring in business management).

"I do miss home and being there, being with the guys, but I created 40 more other brothers coming here and I don't feel negative about it one bit, I'm glad I did it."

Young has also provided a seamless transition in center field for the Lions, replacing Jace Pitchford.

"He's doing a great job; he's replacing Jace very well and honestly, he reminds me a lot of Jace," UAFS junior right fielder Logan Allen said. "He covers ground just as well as Jace and he's been swinging it better lately and he's been helping out a lot for us and I'm glad to have him in center.

"You replace good with better, if not the same, but they're both great, both great players."

Likewise, Young is enjoying his new outfield mates of Allen and left fielders Spencer Sackett and Tremarcus Koontz.

"It definitely helps having (Allen) back out there in right because I can shade more to the left side because I know (Allen) has got range to his right so that kind of helps me out a little bit," Young said. "I don't have to cover all of the outfield and Spencer, him and TK both in left, I don't have to worry about them over there so that really makes it easier on me because I just have to worry about my spot and backing them up.

"It's just nice having an outfield out there that's confident and has been there before and they know what they're going to do so that helps a lot, it makes my job a lot easier."

Young is also beginning to show signs of life at the plate. He is batting .248 but has hit safely in each of his last five games, hitting .333 in that span.

Currently, Young leads the Lions in runs scored with 26 and also has four home runs and 17 RBIs. In a game at Rogers (Okla.) State on March 15, Young went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs.

He also homered in the opening game of the Lions' return series against Rogers State at Crowder Field. On Friday, he drove in the team's first run as the Lions took the three-game Heartland Conference series with a 2-1 win in 10 innings on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Young's friend and former Wichita State teammate, Easley.

"I came in with a strong head, pretty confident and I started off that way and I tried making some adjustments just to be a little bit more consistent and it's been all right; I've been averaging about one hit a game," Young said. "But where I'm at in the lineup, I need to start driving in runs.

"A team 'W' means more than individual stats, so frankly as long as we keep producing and I keep doing my part in the outfield and I start adding on a little bit at the plate, helping the guys out, then I'll be OK with it. It's baseball, it's supposed to be fun always, so as long as it's fun, that's all that matters."

Actually, Fort Smith wasn't the first time Young was away from Wichita for a time.

He originally committed to play baseball and football at Butler Community College outside of Wichita. Young played safety and returned punts and kicks for Derby High School in suburban Wichita, where his team won the state title in football his senior season.

But shortly after relocating to Butler, Young decided to concentrate on baseball, so he moved back to Wichita and enrolled at Wichita State, where he spent four seasons, red-shirting his first season there.

Now, Young is at UAFS, wanting to help the Lions continue their winning ways. UAFS (19-15, 6-6), which has won its last three conference series, plays another conference series at Oklahoma Christian, which takes place Wednesday and Thursday.