The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Senior Sensation

Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker

Senior outfielder Nick Choruby went 2-for-4 with three RBI Tuesday against Dallas Baptist.

It only took Justin Seely one day to conclude that Nick Choruby had the necessary tools to thrive in the outfield.
When Choruby arrived at Texas A&M’s camp during the summer while still in high school, he was a 160-pound shortsop. Seely, the Aggies’ recruiting coordinator and outfielder’s coach, saw Choruby as someone who was very confident in his abilities and had the potential to get stronger and become a better athlete.
But when he got to college, Seely also knew that Choruby’s best chance to get on the field early in his career and make a positive impact for the Aggies would be as an outfielder, so he put him through a workout one day during his freshman year.
“I knew it right away,” Seely told me Friday at TD-Ameritrade Park after the Aggies’ practice. “The way he moved, he had good wiggle when he ran and he just had a good feel for where the ball was going, when it was coming down and he’s an intelligent kid and a very good decision-maker. You add all those things up and it was a no-brainer.”
Choruby saw limited action in his first two years on campus, mostly as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. His role continued to expand, however, as he played in 60 of the Aggies’ 65 games as a junior in 2016, hitting .299 with a team-high 12 sacrifice bunts.
He has exploded in his senior season, though, and has been one of most pivotal pieces behind the Aggies’ run to Omaha, which continues with an elimination game Tuesday against archrival TCU. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN.
Choruby has contributed in all facets of the game, something that hasn’t always been the case for the previously glove-first center fielder who did not record an extra-base hit in either of his first two seasons.
Seely told me before the season that Choruby was the best defensive outfielder in the SEC and, while he has done nothing to dispel that notion this year, has made impressive strides with the bat in his senior season. Choruby’s .326 batting average trails only freshman phenom Braden Shewmake for the team lead and he has also connected on 15 extra-base hits — 10 doubles, two triples and three homers — and he is one of two Aggies with more than 100 total bases.
“Nick’s been huge for us,” says third baseman George Janca. “He’s key for us to get on base, move runners over and whatever he’s asked to do, he does. It’s good to have a leadoff hitter like that.”
One of the most impressive things about Choruby at the plate is his patient approach and impeccable knowledge of the strike zone. He rarely chases pitches out of the zone and has an innate ability of fouling off close two-strike pitches until he gets one he can handle.
Never was that more on display than Sunday’s CWS opener against Louisville, when Choruby led off the game against first-team All-American and top-five pick Brendan McKay with an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a single up the middle.
“You can’t coach the eye,” Choruby says with a chuckle. “My whole life, I’ve been a pretty patient hitter.”
Choruby has drawn an SEC-leading 49 walks so far this year, and his .447 on-base percentage leads the Aggies by a large margin — Hunter Coleman is second among qualified players at .383.
Walker Pennington, one of Choruby’s best friends on the team, says the best example of Choruby’s keen eye occurred in 2016 when the Aggies faced hard-throwing Georgia pitcher Robert Tyler. Tyler, who was drafted by the Rockies as a first-round supplemental pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, was throwing in the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball, but Choruby was not fazed.
“There would be a ball like an inch outside and Choruby wouldn’t even flinch for it,” Pennington recalls. “I’m up there literally trying to stop my bat from swinging and it’s just funny how no matter what the velocity is, he has good at-bats.”
Brigham Hill knows how frustrating it can be to face a guy who refuses to swing at pitches out of the zone. Hill, the Aggies’ ace, remembers Choruby being a nightmare to pitch to in fall intrasquad scrimmages.
“In the fall I hated pitching to him. I felt like I was going to throw 10 pitches before I got him out or walked him,” Hill says. “I try to throw a changeup down and he just looks at me and laughs. He’s got an incredible eye and that’s definitely what we want out of our leadoff hitter.”
Even though Choruby was one of the Aggies’ most consistent hitters in the regular season, he has found a way to elevate his game even further in the postseason. Choruby is hitting a ridiculous .481 (13-for-27) in the NCAA Tournament, including several big hits that have contributed to A&M victories.
How has he been able to hit even better in the postseason, when the stakes are higher and the pitching is supposed to be tougher?
“I’m just trying to extend my career at A&M, honestly,” says Choruby, whose father Shawn played for A&M in the 1980s. “I want to play as long as I can and the better I play, the better we’ll do.”
Says A&M pitcher Corbin Martin: “He’s a senior, he’s been in big moments and for a guy like that to step up in a big situation, it’s awesome. You have to respect a guy like that. He’s been through a lot here. For four years he’s been a guy who’s willing to do whatever it takes to win and for him to step up and be that leader and get big hits for us is awesome.”
Choruby’s leadership has also been evident this season, from his ability to relay messages from the coaching staff to his teammates, to his refusal to take games off even when he is not 100% healthy.
“With the success we’ve had, it’s hard to get guys back for their senior year,” Seely says. “We were fortunate to get Nick back this year and we’ve played him every day. He’s been dinged up but he’s been out there every day. He’s made our team go in the last four weeks.
“I don’t have to ask him — no matter what he’s feeling like he’s ready to go. He’s going to make sure he gets out on the field.”
Choruby has come a long way since he first came to College Station for a summer camp, and he was rewarded for his strong four-year career by earning something he has dreamed of since he was a little kid: a chance to play professional baseball. Choruby became A&M’s only position player drafted when the Washington Nationals selected him in the fifth round.
The pick occurred when the Aggies were practicing in preparation for the College World Series, and Choruby didn’t even know what was happening when the field erupted in applause and everyone started giving him congratulatory hugs.
“I didn’t really know what was going on, I was just standing in the outfield. They all came and gave me a hug, so it was pretty sweet,” Choruby says. “It’s a pretty special feeling getting drafted. You get to pursue your baseball career that I’ve been dreaming about my whole life.”
Even though Choruby was undersized, not necessarily a prized recruit coming out of high school and endured some struggles, he never doubted his abilities.
“I’ve been pretty happy with my career. There’s been some ups and downs for me individually, but we’re here in Omaha so I’m just trying to enjoy it,” Choruby says. “I thought that I could do it when I got here, but I think no one else thought I could. For me, I’m really happy with everything that I’ve done but I wouldn’t say I’m surprised.”
And Seely, who has built up a very close relationship with Choruby the last four years, says he could not be happier for Choruby and is glad he gets to pursue his dream of a becoming a big-leaguer.
“I get goosebumps just thinking about it, I can feel them on my neck,” Seely says. “You get goosebumps for a guy like him because you know how much he has put into it on a daily basis. He’s an intelligent guy who’s going to have an incredible degree from Texas A&M so he’s going to be a success no matter what, but from where he started to where he is now in terms of being able to get drafted and play professionally, the amount of pride is like he’s one of your children. You’re proud of him regardless of the result, but it makes you happy that he owns the result.”

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  • Senior Nick Choruby returns to the dugout after a run.

    Photo by Photo by Cassie Stricker
  • Senior Nick Choruby went 2-for-4 against Houston, driving in a RBI-triple in the seventh inning.

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