Tucker’s Big Day At Plate Boosts Overall Confidence
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia freshman shortstop Tevin Tucker was recruited first and foremost to help solidify the Mountaineer defense. With middle infielders Jimmy Galusky and Kyle Gray departing from last year’s team, WVU needed to rebuild, and hopefully improve, its stopping ability up the middle. Anchored by catchers Ivan Gonzalez and Paul McIntosh, and protected on the back end by center fielder Brandon White, those building blocks are now in place.
While WVU has a couple more errors than it would like, Tucker and Doanes have added to the Mountaineers’ range in the field, and have helped turn 18 double plays, which was tied for 15th nationally through March 18. At the plate, though, it was another story for the youngster from Petersburg, Virginia. He, like several other players in the lineup, got off to a very slow start at the plate, and saw his batting average drop to near the .100 mark. Although head coach Randy Mazey noted that his defensive value was so good as to make the batting average less of a concern, Tucker certainly wasn’t happy with that state of affairs.
He began turning it around in the weekend series at William & Mary, collecting three hits and helping the bottom of the order to a pair of productive days. Then, in Tuesday’s contest, against Youngstown State, he had the best day of his young career.
In the bottom of the second, he snaked a sharp grounder down the third base line for a double to drive in two runs, and later came around to score on a stolen base and a throwing error. Then in the bottom of the sixth came another first. With one runner on, he squared up on a pitch and drove it on a line toward left field.
“When I swung, I thought, ‘I got a good swing off,’ but then when I was rounding the bases I thought no way it went over, no way,” Tucker said, smiling as he recounted the moment. “Then I looked at (third base coach Steve) Sabins and he said, ‘Yeah, it went over.’ Ever since I touched second base, I was smiling all the way home.”
That highlighted an excellent 2-of-3 day on which he drove in four runs and scored three, raising his average by 32 points.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Tucker, who wants to contribute in as many different ways as he can. “I want to do anything I can to help the team win. It’s all about the team. That’s all I am trying to do at the end of the day.”
Tucker is also part of a steals brigade that has swiped 49 bases, good for eighth nationally. Along with White, Austin Davis and Doanes, the Mountaineers have a total running threat that few teams can equal.
“Coach preaches to us every day that we have to apply pressure to the other team. Running is our game; that’s our style,” Tucker said, describing the competition that keeps his teammates going on the bases. “We are all trying to get as many bags as we can. When we get on, the opposing catcher is thinking, ‘They are going to run sooner or later,’ and that might potentially give us a good pitch for the hitter to hit. We’re just trying to get on base and pose a threat to the other team.”