Florida State junior first baseman Jayce Boyd has gotten off to a red hot start in 2012.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Cantonment, Fla. native is hitting .438 with three doubles, a home run and a team-high 11 RBI through the first four games of the season.
This weekend he will look to extend his 10-game hitting streak that spans back to last season as the No. 8 Seminoles (4-0) host Florida International (0-3)starting at 4 p.m. ET on Friday.
"I feel pretty good at the plate," Boyd said. "I'm seeing the ball well and keeping a good approach and trying not to do too much."
Last season Boyd hit .343 with eight home runs and 60 RBI, batting mostly in the fifth spot in FSU's order. This year he is batting cleanup behind senior James Ramsey.
Boyd said it is an adjustment hitting in the fourth spot after having the luxury of watching both Ramsey and Mike McGee hit before him last season.
"It's a little different because I got to watch Mike (McGee) hit before I got up last year and I kind of judged what I was looking for and kind of what to expect based off of what they threw at him," Boyd said. "Now it's kind of just going up there and being that guinea pig and still trying to produce. It's a tougher situation but I take a lot of pride in it and I'm excited for the challenge."
So far Boyd has done a good job of not pressing too much in his new role, as he is yet to strikeout and has walked four times.
FSU coach Mike Martin said that he knows Boyd can't keep up his torrid pace all season long, but that it is crucial for the junior to produce in the clean-up role.
"Now I'd like to think he could (keep this pace), but it's not going to happen," Martin said. "It sure is nice to see him, because it's so important for him to be successful because of where he's hitting in the lineup."
After Tuesday's 16-9 win over Jacksonville University, Martin announced that he was shaking up his young starting rotation.
He said that freshman Brandon Leibrandt (1-0, 1.80 ERA) would remain in the Friday slot, while fellow freshman Mike Compton (1-0, 3.60 ERA) would move from Sunday to Saturday and that he would decide later on a Sunday starter.
On Thursday Martin announced that sophomore Peter Miller (0-0, 5.40 ERA), who lasted just 1.2 innings in his first career start against Hofstra, would remain in the weekend rotation but move to Sunday.
For Compton, he said the only change for him starting on Saturday was that he will only be able to watch the Panthers for one full game instead of two.
"That's really the only difference," the freshman right-hander said. "Just take it kind of the same as I did Sunday. Go by what (pitching) Coach (Mike) Bell tells me he sees in the Friday game and hopefully take some tips away from the Friday game and use on Saturday."
Despite Miller's struggles last weekend, he still has the confidence of his teammates who saw him dominate throughout the fall and preseason on the mound.
"I hate facing the guy," senior James Ramsey said of Miller. "When we're in practice, he probably has the best four pitches. I think it's just you've got to know that you belong… I think just like any of the new guys that are going to throw, they just need a game under their belt."
Martin is hoping to see a different Miller on the mound Sunday than he saw last weekend. As for the true freshman, he's just hoping they can be a bit more polished in their next starts but likes what he has seen thus far,
"I thought both of them had great poise," Martin said of Leibrandt and Compton. "Both of them went out and seemed to enjoy their opportunity. They didn't put any (extra) pressure on themselves. They just went out and got after it."
Spradling working his way back
To say it has been a rough couple of months for junior outfielder Stephen Spradling may be an understatement.
Spradling arrived in Tallahassee in the fall from Broward State College (JUCO) in hopes of challenging Seth Miller for the starting job in right field.
But on the first day of fall practice he injured his shoulder diving for a ball and had to have surgery. Once he returned in the spring he pulled two different muscles in his legs and just one day before Opening Day he dislocated his knee cap.
Martin joked about his tough luck, saying he hoped the Boynton Beach, Fla. native slept with the lights on, because if he woke up in the middle of the night he may kick a piece of furniture and injury himself further.
"It's been a rough start," Spradling said with a smile. "First day out on the field coming into the fall and I dislocated my shoulder diving for a ball and then ended up having to do surgery on my shoulder, on my labrum. That was pretty devastating, but coaches and players have been real good through it all…
"Then coming back in spring and swinging the bat right away. Feeling good, hitting good, then strained my groin, then my hamstring, and then dislocate my knee right before Opening Day."
Spradling has worked his way back from his latest injury and made his FSU debut against JU at the plate. Despite striking out he said it was great just be back on the field.
Martin said that while Spradling is still probably a month away from being able to play everyday in the field, he thinks the outfielder can have an immediate impact for the team at the plate.
"He's probably playing 80 percent with his legs and he is probably four weeks from being able to throw like he's capable of throwing," Martin said. "He's still going to be able to make contributions with his bat here, literally immediately."