Strength up the middle is a priority for any team and ORU is no exception. No matter the combination at second base and shortstop, each season the production speaks for itself. The Golden Eagles have turned to transfer junior Dylan Snypes and junior Nick Roark to man the positions in 2017.
Snypes comes to ORU after two seasons playing shortstop at East Central Community College in Mississippi. Last season, Snypes hit .288 with 21 extra-base hits (five home runs), 38 RBI and 23 stolen bases. The Golden Eagles are hoping Snypes can do more of the same this year.
“I expect big things out of myself,” said Snypes. “I’m just going to play the game right and hope for success.”
Roark and Snypes have worked to find chemistry together and with the first series of the season this weekend, they’re hoping the hard work starts to show right away.
“The biggest thing when you have a new double play partner is making sure you connect, you’re on the same page and thinking the same thing,” said Roark of his new shortstop. “We’re still learning every day, but we’ve connected pretty well.”
Roark started 58 games at second base last season, but has also shown versatility playing at shortstop, third base and left field. He got extended time playing both second and third base during this spring practice and while he’s made every start at second so far this season, he may see time at both positions.
Roark has made a good impression on his new shortstop and has been open to hearing what he has to say.
“[Nick’s] been in the program longer than me, so he’s definitely taught me some things,” said Snypes. “It’s nice to have players like that around to help you.”
While getting comfortable defensively with a new shortstop has been a focus, Roark has also been working to get comfortable at the plate. The Broken Arrow native started the season white-hot, hitting a robust .339 in his first 15 games last season before falling into an extended slump. He hit just .228 in his final 15 games, but hopes the rough stretch will help him in 2017.
“When I was hot at the beginning of the season, I was just out there playing baseball. Everything seemed to slow down,” said Roark. “When I started struggling, the game started to speed up and I let it speed up. I got in the game and was like ‘I have to get a hit. I have to produce. The comfort is there, now I’m just looking for that consistency.”
ORU continues their eight-game road trip this afternoon as the Golden Eagles take on the Alabama in Game 2 of the three-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.