Release Date: 3/23/2000
CLARKSVILLE, Ark. ---University of the Ozarks outfielder Shawn Adams has been playing organized baseball most of his life, but he doesn't remember ever being in the type of hitting groove he is currently enjoying
The sophomore leadoff hitter from Lafayette, La., is among the American Southwest Conference's top hitters in average (.400), hits (22), stolen bases (6) and on-base percentage (.560).
"I don't think I've ever hit this well, even in little league," said Adams, a fleet-footed 6-foot, 165-pound left fielder. "It just seems like I'm seeing the ball better than I ever have. It's hard to explain, but I go up to plate every time now expecting to get a hit. It's a nice feeling."
Limited by a nagging hamstring injury, Adams batted .254 in 21 games as a freshman last year. Over the summer Adams and his father, Bruce, revamped his swing, changing to a shorter, more compact style. The change appears to be working. Not only is his average way up, his strikeouts are down (eight in 69 at-bats compared to 14 in 59 at-bats last year).
"We really worked on my swing and stance in order for me to make better contact," Adams said. "We felt like if I could put the ball in play and then use my speed to get on base it would help. I think that's definitely helped."
Ozarks Coach Bill Mueller believes a year of experience has also played a big role in Adams' success.
"I think Shawn realized last year that he could play on this level and he came back this year determined to step up and have a good year," said Mueller. "He's going out there every day and staying within himself, doing whatever it takes to get on base. He's the ideal leadoff hitter because he is such a student of the game. He knows baseball situations and he's not going to make a lot of mistakes, either at the plate, on the bases or in the field."
Adams spearheads an Eagles team that is batting .282 and averaging 5.8 runs a game. Sporadic pitching and erratic fielding have plagued the Eagles in their 2-14 start this season, but they have played competitively against a schedule that includes several scholarship NCAA Division II schools. The Eagles now set their sights on ASC East Division play, which begins this weekend when they host University of Dallas in a three-game series Friday and Saturday at Hurie Field in Clarksville.
"We feel like we've played a tough non-conference schedule and that we're ready to battle for a conference championship," said Mueller, in his third season at U of O. "Starting this weekend we're playing for something and I know as a team we're excited about that.