SIU baseball’s new look leads to improvement in practice

SIU baseballs new look  leads to improvement in practice

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

SIU baseball has taken a stand against “hookers.”

The team has eight shirts with different words on them that are given to players who showed the most improvement throughout the week, including one that reads “No Hookers.”

At first glance, the phrase may seem out of place on a baseball diamond, but this statement is a reward for batters who don’t repeatedly pull, or hook, the ball to their natural side. 

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“It relates to our hitters who showed improvements in their contact and hitting to all fields,” said sophomore infielder Logan Blackfan. He wore the “No Whiff” shirt for putting the ball in play the most. 

He said they also have a “No Hangers” shirt for the player who makes solid contact, instead of weakly popping the ball up. 

The new tradition puts the power in the hands of the players as they determine who is worthy of wearing each shirt.

“The shirts symbolize an area where, we as a team, thought they did exceptionally well during the week, and we vote on who will wear it for practice,” said junior second baseman Will Farmer.

Farmer wore “Bus Driver” for the week, which exemplifies strong leadership. His teammates noticed that when Farmer speaks words of encouragement, players listen.

“‘Bus Driver’ goes to the guy who works hard and is always pushing his teammates to do better,” he said. “It’s really easy to get complacent and tired, so I try to motivate my teammates every day to keep improving in every drill we do by just being positive and leading by example … telling them to keep their heads up and they did well for the day.”

Pitchers also have two shirts of their own with “Lunch Pail,” worn by junior Joey Marciano because he shows up for practice early and leaves late, and “Carver” worn by redshirt junior Anthony Shimkus because of his pinpoint accuracy. 

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Coach Ken Henderson, the man behind the idea, said the shirts give the team motivation to work harder because there is a tangible goal to be achieved. 

“It was an idea we came up with in the fall to reward the guys on a weekly basis and it seems to be working,” he said. “It’s made a difference in how the guys practice as they’re competing for who will win a shirt every week.”

Those tangible achievements already seem to have made a difference in the young season. 

Farmer said players take a great sense of pride in the signature shirts.

“When you wear it around, you’re feeling accomplished knowing that you’ve helped a teammate out and worked hard to earn it,” he said. “You can’t get complacent though; you have to keep working hard and keep improving.”

Fans will get their first chance to see if they shirts work when the Salukis open the season against McNeese State at 6 p.m. Friday in Lake Charles, La.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 618-534-3303

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