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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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Turning the corner

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Photo by Meredith Seaver

Junior shortstop Braden Shewmake rounds the bases after hitting the second Aggie home run inside Minute Maid Park against the Baylor Bears.

HOUSTON — Braden Shewmake looked to the on-deck circle and threw up a shrug towards teammate Will Frizzell.
Rounding second base, Shewmake decelerated into a jog after sprinting the first 180 feet as the umpires confirmed his line drive hit had indeed cleared the left field fence for a 2-run homer. It was the go-ahead play in a decisive fourth inning during Texas A&M’s 5-2 win over Baylor Friday night at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park.
Not only was Shewmake’s home run the leading decider in the Aggies’ (9-2) victory over the Bears, but it might’ve been the decisive play to confirm the standout shortstop had finally turned the corner following a sluggish start to the season.
The junior’s went 2-for-4 in the winning effort against the Bears, adding a double to the gap in right-centerfield during the seventh inning.
“I think he’s just getting bats under his belt,” A&M head coach Rob Childress said of Shewmake after the game. “He’s opened up the field to both sides and he had two hits the other way Wednesday night and carried that into tonight as well. Had a double that split right-centerfield gap, but the home run he stayed through the ball and stayed on it. Two weeks ago that was a roll-over to second base.”
Through A&M’s first six games, Shewmake was hitting a mere .150 (3-for-20) and hadn’t recorded a single extra-base hit, nor brought in a run. He was hitting into soft, routine grounders and getting under balls and flying out.
Over the past week though, Shewmake has gone 8-for-22 at the plate, recording five extra base hits, including two on Friday. All seven of his RBI have come in this span, which includes an 0-for-4 outing in A&M’s 7-2 game three against Illinois-Chicago. As a result, his batting average has risen remarkably to .262.
“That’s contagious,” Childress said. “Just like when a guy’s going good, that’s contagious. When a guy’s not going good, that tends to be a bit contagious as well. You can start to see signs of what we’re capable of up and down that lineup.”
Coming into the season, Shewmake was named to the Preseason All-SEC Team. After spending a second straight summer with Team USA’s collegiate squad, there were lofty expectations for the third-year player from Wylie, some that might’ve gotten too far into Shewmake’s head.
“It’s weird, I was feeling good at the beginning of the year, too,” Shewmake said after Friday’s game. “I think at the beginning of the year I wanted to do too much. I wanted to come out and I wanted to maybe impress. And I think the best way for anybody to impress is to be yourself and they’ve done a really great job of reminding me to be myself. Just play the game hard like you do every game. That’s what I’m trying to focus on day in and day out.”
Shewmake pinpointed his early struggles at the plate to his mental game. After Wednesday’s loss to Incarnate Word, he said he had talked with Childress for mental motivation. Childress gave a simple remedy for Shewmake’s strong desires — play like yourself.
“Just relax and go be the best version of you you can be and don’t try to do something different,” Childress said of his message to Shewmake. “When you try to do something other than you’re capable of and what you’re built for, you’re setting yourself up for some ups and downs. He’s just a solid good player that can go foul line to foul line with the bat.”
Shewmake’s surge in the batters’ box has backed his play in the field. He continues to be strong at shortstop, and turned a key double play in the seventh inning after Baylor got a lead-off single. He has just one error on the season, which came in A&M’s season-opener against UIC.
Now Shewmake and the Aggies turn their focus towards their biggest game of the season Saturday night against No. 17 TCU, whom A&M has a storied history with in recent years. Shewmake went 2-for-7 in the Aggies’ infamous 15-inning loss to the Horned Frogs on the same time slot two years in the College Classic and knows what they can bring to the table.
The Aggies hope Shewmake can continue to churn out hits to out duel the Horned Frogs.
“They’re going to have great arms, they’re going to play good defense and they’ve got a very solid lineup, so it’s going to going to be a tough opponent, but I like what we’ve got going,” Shewmake said. “We’re going to compete on the offensive side and our pitching staff s’ going to fill it up and we’re going to play solid defense behind them.
“It’s going to be a dogfight and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
A&M and TCU are set for a 7 p.m. first pitch and the game can be seen on MLB.com.

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