With Nixa catcher Jack Edwards’ off-season numbers on the rise, the Eagles are hoping he can add to the sterling sophomore season statistics he posted a year ago.
Edwards created quite a stir by those in the know over the winter, when his exit velocity was clocked as high as 106 mph during batting practice sessions at college showcases.
By comparison, the MLB average exit velocity is 87 mph.
“That was awesome,” Edwards said of his reading. “Hard work in the weight room has helped me swing harder and hit the ball harder.”
Edwards’ bat speed has went from exceptional to elite.
“It's always been a strength of mine,” he said. “But it really made a jump from my freshman year to sophomore year.”
“He's got bat speed not many people have. The ball jumps off his bat,” coach Logan Hughes said. “Obviously, the harder you hit the ball, the harder it is to play defense against it.”
Edwards’ work in the weight room has also been rewarded with increases during the winter in his maxes on the bench press and squat.
“I made a 45-pound increase on my bench and a 70-pound increase on the squat,” he said.
Edwards certainly has momentum on his side. He burst upon the varsity scene in a big way last year by hitting .340 with five homers and 41 RBIs. He was named to the All-COC First Team.
“Sophomore year was great. I hit well and it's carried over to this year,” he said.
Obviously, Edwards was hardly content with his sophomore statistics.
“He has gotten a lot stronger in the weight room and it's transitioning to the baseball field,” Hughes said. “Everything is getting better for him. He's extremely talented. He's a very mature hitter. He makes adjustments in the middle of at-bats and has got a swing that allows him to hit for average, not just power.”
Edwards shared Nixa’s catching duties last season with Jaret Nelson. This season will be more of the same as a combination of Gehrig Eoff, Ethan Taylor and Dylan Rebura will share time behind the plate with Edwards.
When not catching, Edwards will start at first base or designated hitter.
“That will keep us going for more games,” Edwards said. “Catching is a tough position. It helps that our catchers are good. “
“I'm a two catcher kind of guy because I want both catchers to stay healthy with their legs,” Hughes said. “We've got a couple good options behind the plate. Whatever we can do to keep them healthy and fresh.”
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