Junior outfielder contributes big to the Panther’s success

Brett Shweky // Staff Writer

In the top of the seventh inning on Tuesday, March 4, against the No. 22 Mississippi State Bulldogs, outfielder Jack Schaaf increased the commanding lead for the Panthers as he sent an RBI single up the middle to drive home first baseman Nick Day for the 7-3 FIU lead.

The outfielder finished the first game of the two-game series going 2 for 3 with two singles and followed up with another solid performance in the final game, going 2 for 4 with another two singles.

The junior is currently batting a .244 average while also securing 13 runs, 10 hits and two home runs. Schaaf has been one the best fielders for FIU as well, having a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.  

Schaaf said that the coaching staff has been one of the largest contributing factors in his success so far this season.

“Our coaches are doing a really great job with us,” said the junior outfielder. “They’re preaching to us ‘trust in the process. Trust in the process. Trust in the process.’ As a team we might hear it a million times through practice and games and that helps the team and myself remain focused.”

Head coach Mervyl Melendez said that Schaaf and the team have been working hard all season and that the team has been able to find a multitude of ways to win games.

“The guys have been battling and they’ve been working hard,” said Melendez. “Sometimes as a coach you don’t understand why we get in the predicaments we get into. However our guys fight back, they don’t let slow starts derail them. It really shows the toughness of the team.”

In his sophomore season, the outfielder was second on the team with 13 doubles and 36 runs scored. Schaaf also showed he can be a dangerous runner, stealing 9 bases out of the 11 attempts he had last season.

Before attending FIU, Schaaf played high school ball at Springboro High in Springboro, Ohio, where he batted a .506 average while having eight home runs. He received team MVP honors and was named all-state in baseball in 2014.

Schaaf was also a dual-threat quarterback in high school, where he was able to throw for 1,500 yards and run for over 1,200 yards. As the quarterback for the Springboro High Panthers, he helped lead the team to conference championships in 2013 and 2014.   

The Panthers and Schaaf will return to the diamond on April 18, where the team will travel to Fort Myers to play against Florida Gulf Coast University. First pitch will be thrown at 6:30 p.m.

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