TAMPA – Alec Aleywine hasn’t been the dual-threat player he once was since transferring to the University of Tampa.
But he thinks what he learned as a pitcher has made him a better hitter.
“As a pitcher, you have to have an understanding of what the (batter’s) game plan is going to be against you,” the first baseman said before a practice Wednesday. “It gives me a better understanding of what (pitchers) are going to do against me.”
He attracted the Spartans’ attention after two seasons at Gulf Coast State College, where he was 6-4 with 69 strikeouts and a 5.23 earned-run average in 62 innings and batted .353 in 41 games with eight home runs and 50 runs batted in.
But Aleywine hasn’t pitched for UT so far due to an injury suffered last fall. So first base it is.
“I think I’ve had a pretty good season at this point,” he said — and the stats show that.
After 17 games through Thursday, he’s batting .306 and leading the Spartans in runs (22) and triples (3) and is second in RBI (15) and home runs (3).
Head coach Joe Urso recognizes that.
“He has been the backbone of our offence,” Urso said.
Aleywine praises his teammates and coaching support.
“It really makes me perform better on the field just to know that I’m surrounded by a bunch of guys that can do it, too,” he said. “The relationship that I have with coach Urso, coach (Jose) Jimenez, and coach (Sam) Militello is very great. They make it more like a family.”
Militello, briefly a pitcher for the New York Yankees, is the associate head coach; Jimenez is an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
The Spartans, winners of four of their past five games through Thursday, are 12-5 so far this season.
“For me now it’s just kind of about coming out here every day with the same mindset … and trying to reach the ultimate goal, which is the national championship”, said Aleywine.