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by Rick Cabral

HORNETS' HOSKINS LEADS THE WAC


S acramento State has a new offensive threat named Rhys Hoskins and the Western Athletic Conference is taking notice.  

At Louisiana Tech this past weekend, Sac State took two out of three to win its first WAC series, including an 11-6 Sunday victory that featured two home runs and three runs batted in by the freshman phenom Hoskins. For the series Hoskins went five for 13 with one double, two home runs and five RBI. (Demonstrating this isn’t a One-Man-Show, senior Derrek Chung had a great series in Louisiana, too, and freshman pitcher Brennan Leiteo tossed a complete-game five-hitter for a 2-1 victory, earning him the WAC Pitcher of the Week award.) 

Hoskins’ .416 batting average is leading the WAC by 32 points and ranks him 16th nationally in Division I. He’s second in the conference with eight home runs and tied for third in doubles with 10.  

Hoskins_Doubles

Not since Tim Wheeler has a Hornet freshman posted this combination of high average and power numbers and we remember what happened to him (became the first Hornet player drafted in the first round by the Colorado Rockies and signed for just under a million-dollar bonus). According to head coach Reggie Christensen, this isn’t some lucky hot streak Hoskins is on. 

“We knew he was going to hit with power, so I guess initially the average (was the bigger surprise),” said Christensen. “But really it’s not like he’s on fire; he’s just consistent. It’s going to be scary to see him continue to get better, and continue to make adjustments against some of the better pitchers.” 

This past weekend Hoskins noticed that opponents had finally developed a book on him: soft stuff away. He crushed a couple of mistake pitches for round-trippers. “You can’t miss that pitch once you get it. That’s what I’ve been focusing on.” 

Hoskins admits he’s seeing the ball better than ever. “When you’re going good everything starts happening slower, you see the rotation of the ball better.” 

Hoskins_AB

Rhys Hoskins contemplates his next at-bat.



Christensen credits Hoskins with having the highest maturity level of any player he’s coached in 12 years and that carries over to the freshman’s work ethic and desire to improve. “He comes out here every day with the goal of getting better, and doesn’t get caught up in the results.” 

Humble Hoskins credits the Hornet coaches for preparing him with after-practice workouts. “I think all the hard work is starting to pay off right now. And it’s good for our team to get some more runs and more wins.” 

While Wheeler entered Sac State as a highly-touted, All-Metro player from Rio Americano, last year Hoskins only hit .303 while anchoring the first base bag for perennially top-ranked Jesuit. A check of the stats show that may have been an aberration, as he hit .421 as a junior. Christensen offers a theory: Hoskins played on Jesuit’s basketball team which went deep into the playoffs, forestalling the 6’4”, 215 pounder’s baseball regimen. For the past year, Hoskins has focused exclusively on baseball and the results are remarkable. “He’s just touching the tip of where he can be. That’s the scary thing,” says the Hornet skipper. 

In addition to his big bat, Hoskins is paying subsidiary dividends for Sac State’s in recruitment. Along with Hoskins, other local players like sophomores Will Soto (Elk Grove) and Justin Higley (Jesuit), and freshman Kasey Chapan of River City High are helping draw local recruits to the Sacramento campus. Christensen has commitments from Rio Americano star pitcher Sutter McLaughlin and Justn Dillon of El Dorado.  

“I think we’re starting to make progress in recruiting the local player,” notes the head coach, who would like to see his team advance to the conference tournament this year. 

Where does Rhys Hoskins see the program in a couple years, say when he might possibly be a prime-time prospect? “I don’t think the College World Series is that far off for us,” he admits. “We’re just trying to take it step-by-step and make the conference tournament this year. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.” 

His coach will be happy to hear that from his star player. 

 

 

Uploaded 04/10/12

All contents © Rick Cabral 2012

 

 

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