GRANVILLE, W.Va. – One of the last times we saw Tevin Tucker on the turf at Wagener Field at Monongalia County Ballpark, he was standing in the batter’s box surrounded by an empty stadium.
His girlfriend was feeding baseballs into the pitching machine that Tucker had wheeled onto the field and plugged in. She stood behind the protective screen that he wheeled onto the field, as well.
Tucker took swings and practiced layup down bunts for roughly 30 minutes before calling it a night. The two paced the outfield picking up the baseballs he had sprayed around the diamond.
“I was frustrated. So, a couple swings were probably just out of frustration, but then it was just me working and getting my bunts down and stuff. And I feel like it helped,” Tucker said Friday night. “My dad always tells me just work. So all I know is work. So, I just wanted to come back out here and get some more work in.”
Tucker has had at least one hit in four of the five games played since that late-night round of batting practice, which immediately followed an 0-for-3 night at the plate against Pittsburgh on May 10.
He went a combined 3-for-9 against Oklahoma, scoring one run and driving in three more in the series.
The shortstop followed a hitless outing on Thursday with an impressive 2-for-4 day at the dish in Friday night’s rout of Kansas State.
“Yeah, it was a pretty good night I would say,” he said with a smile on his face.
Tucker’s two hits Friday included a two-run triple to right field in the fourth inning. Earlier in the inning, he drew a walk, stole second base, and then came around to score. He contemplated running past third on the triple he his during his second at-bat of the frame.
“When I [saw] he dove and missed it, I just tried to run as fast as I could,” Tucker said. “For a slight moment I did [think about going home]. A little kid told me earlier, before the game, to hit a home run. So, I was like, ‘Uh, should I run home?’ But coach Sabins said no.”
Friday was the first time that Tucker recorded a multi-hit since March 20 against Campbell. It marked just his second two-hit game of the year.
The Prince George, Virginia started the year going hitless in 11 of his first 13 games. But he has rebounded, and has at least one hit in nine of his last 13 games dating back to April 29.
“I think during the season there’s a lot of ups and downs, you just try to stay level-headed as you can,” said Tucker. “Some things will go good, some things will go bad. My dad will always tell me just stay level-headed.”
Tucker admitted that staying level-headed is easier said than done, especially during a season where, in terms of batting average, he hasn’t performed the way he would like.
However, he has been producing.
Tucker is fourth on the team in runs scored (31) and walks (23), and his on-base percentage (.306) is more than double his .178 batting average. He’s also 21-for-27 in stolen base attempts.
The redshirt junior has also risen his batting average by nearly 20 points over the last five games.
Asked what he attributes his recent success to, he said, “My teammates believing in my, and my coach believing in me, and just, kind of taking extra reps in practice and just keep going every day. Just trying to get better and better.”