Ahead Of The Game: Baseball Boast Two Of The Nation's Best

Ahead Of The Game: Baseball Boast Two Of The Nation's Best
Planas leads nation with 31 walks, English's 18 doubles also setting the pace. Photos by Joel Auerbach.

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. --Barry University’s baseball team is putting together a strong 2013 campaign in hopes of returning to the NCAA Regional once again come May and they’re doing it with the help of two of the nation’s best.

Junior Adrian English is putting together one of the most remarkable seasons by not only any Division II player but across all divisions in collegiate baseball this spring.

Hitting a remarkable .423 after 31 games, English is among the top-ten nationally in various categories and has made his presence felt in the middle of the Bucs’ lineup.

The Miami native is third in the nation with 54 hits, eighth with 36 RBI and he currently leads all of Division II with 18 doubles. English burst onto the scene as a freshman hitting .330 in 55 games but seemed to struggle a bit as a sophomore last spring hitting .280 while he collected 26 RBI in both of his first two seasons at Barry.

This spring, English has been a catalyst for the Buccaneers and has been making a strong case as a possible Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year candidate. He currently leads the conference in batting average, hits, total bases and RBI and ranks in the top ten in numerous other categories.

Joining English atop leaders in the nation is sophomore Sheehan Planas-Arteaga. The lefty hitter led the Buccaneers with a .319 batting average last season before being sidelined with an injury and he’s followed up with another strong season in 2013.

Planas struggled out of the gate hitting .222 through the Bucs’ first 11 games with only one extra-base hit but in his last 20 games he has belted 26 hits to raise his average up to .306.

For most of his rookie season and the greater part of 2013, Planas was hitting in the second or third spot in the lineup but head coach Marc Pavao made a move two weeks ago to put Planas in the leadoff spot and the results have proven a wise decision.

In his first night at the leadoff spot Planas finished 1-for-4 with three walks and the Bucs put together their best offensive output of the season in a 23-2 rout of Adelphi University.

Since then, Planas’ on-base-percentage has risen to .455 and he currently ranks fifth in the nation (first in the SSC) with 38 runs scored and is No. 1 among all division II players with 31 walks.

Both English and Planas will have to keep pace in order to break the Buccaneers’ doubles and walks record this season. English’s 18 doubles are just eight shy of the Billy Zoffinger’s 26 set in 2003 and Planas is still 27 walks behind Nick Shaw’s mark of 58 free passes set in 2007.

Regardless of whether or not they break any records, English and Planas have been difference makers in Barry’s lineup this season and their success has resonated with their teammates. Barry’s offense is among the best not only in the SSC but in the South Region which is in part why the Bucs boast a 20-11 overall record.

The Buccaneers await a crucial conference matchup with the No. 5 ranked Spartans of Tampa this week but Barry enters the series with plenty of confidence after taking two of three in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. against the rival Sharks of Nova Southeastern. The Bucs dropped the series finale 10-9 in extra innings.

Tampa (24-4, 7-2 SSC) was the preseason favorite to win the conference. Barry and Tampa have alternated conference championships in each of the last four seasons with the Buccaneers capturing the league crown in 2009 and 2011 under Marc Pavao.

First pitch on Thursday is slated for 6 p.m. with live-stat and broadcast coverage available through the Barry University athletics website, GOBARRYBUCS.COM.