Henry makes immediate impact for FIU

By Joel Delgado

Jabari Henry seems to know how to make an entrance in a big way.

It was the second game of the season against Maryland on Feb. 20, and his first collegiate start and at bat.

Almost as quickly as he stepped into the batter’s box, Henry crushed a pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run.

His first impression was just a prelude to what he has been able to do since then. Henry has helped make the FIU offense a formidable one.

As of April 10, Henry leads all Golden Panthers in home runs with eight and has a team-high 37 RBI. After a week in which Henry exploded with five home runs, two of them being grand slams, and racking up 17 RBI while batting .500 in that span, national honors came rushing in as the freshman struggled to keep track of them all.

“All of my fans back at home are texting me, telling me I’ve won another award. Sometimes I don’t find out until some of my friends tell me,” Henry said.

In addition to winning the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week for his breakout performance, he was named Louisville Slugger’s National Player of the Week, earned a spot on the College Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup and was also College Baseball Insider’s National Player of the Week.

CHANGE OF HEART

It wasn’t always baseball for Henry growing up, however. He was being groomed to be basketball player by his father, Joe Henry, but young Jabari had other plans.

“I remember he came home one day and said he wanted to play baseball,” Joe Henry said of his son. “He said he wanted to pitch so we bought him a glove and we saw he had a pretty good arm. When I got home from work we took a bucket of balls, a bat and a glove and we would go hit every day.”

Now Henry’s family comes down from central Florida frequently to catch as many home games as possible.

Watching the left fielder play from a distance has been a bit of a role reversal for his father, who has been accustomed to having more of a hands-on role in his son’s development.

“It seemed like I have seen all of it before and I’m reliving it all over again but now in the stands,” Joe Henry said.

QUICK ADJUSTMENTS

Outside of striving to win conference championships and earning a College World Series berth, Henry has his sights focused on the tasks that lie right in front of him.

“He doesn’t look a day ahead. He always says that every at bat is a new at bat. Every day is a new day,” his father said.

While Henry has made an immediate impact, FIU head coach Turtle Thomas still believes that there are better things yet to come and expects him to continue to make progress as an everyday outfielder for the Golden Panthers.

“Jabari is a fine young, freshman ballplayer,” Thomas said. “The biggest thing he has to do is continue learning the game of baseball and to get much stronger. We’re expecting even better things from him in the future.”

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