For Georgia Regents third baseman Hunter Boose, breaking out was just a matter of time.
In his sophomore season, Boose is already seeing greater changes under new coach Jason Eller. It culminated in a career-best weekend against Armstrong Atlantic State on Feb. 15-16.
Boose combined to go 9 for 12 with two doubles, two home runs, seven RBI and two walks in three games against a tough Pirates team. He was rewarded by being named NCAA Division II National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
“It made my parents happy,” Boose said. “That was the No. 1 thing. Just the recognition from that for a small-town guy, a hometown guy, it was good to get the award.
“Coming into that weekend I was just working on keeping the ball down, hitting more line drives, and it showed up in the games. I was being more selective at the plate. I swung at more of my pitches that weekend, and it felt good.”
Boose’s talent level at the plate was evident during his days at Greenbrier, where he helped lead the Wolfpack to a Class AAAA championship appearance in his senior season. He showed power potential from a strong, athletic frame, and the ball jumped off his bat when he connected.
The Jaguars also realized that potential, signing and starting him at shortstop right away in his freshman season.
Boose responded to the challenge by hitting .291 with a team-high 20 doubles and three home runs while playing the most games on the team. But he also showed his youth by committing 22 errors and striking out 47 times while walking just nine times in 48 games.
Through 13 games this season, Boose is hitting .294 with an improved .333 on-base percentage. He again leads the team in doubles with six and is already close to matching his home run total from last season.
But the biggest change has been limiting strikeouts to just seven through 13 games while setting a pace to walk more often. In his second year in college, Boose is picking up spin and off-speed better, and he’s being more selective at the plate. He is also showing more efficient defense after moving to third base.
“The challenge is when you know guys are pitching around you, and trust the guy on deck is going to pick you up,” Eller said. “When he swings at good pitches and doesn’t get himself out, I think he’s as good as anybody in the league.”
Boose said Eller has brought a new mindset to the Jaguars, adding confidence and positivity to a team that had just 10 wins last season. Georgia Regents reached half of last year’s win total in the first 11 games this year.
“I think our best baseball is yet to come,” Boose said. “We’re going to pick it up. (Eller) brings confidence that we lacked last year. He brings that to this team and keeps everyone positive, everyone’s head in the game.”