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Glove Story: Jackson on the Defense
Christina De Nicola
drive ripped in the hole between short and third looks to be a
sure hit. That is until one of the top defensive players in the
country fully extends to snag the ball out of thin air and rob a
Florida International University hitter.
the age of three, University of Miami junior shortstop Ryan
Jackson (left) has played baseball and wowed spectators with his
just practiced every day,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t anything in
particular. It always came easy to me. In terms of learning
backhands and stuff, you have to be taught. You just don’t wake
up and do it. I’ve probably taken millions of ground balls over
compared to former Hurricanes alum and New York Mets shortstop
Alex Cora, the 6-3 Miami Springs, Fla., native has great range,
instincts and feels most comfortable on backhands.
consistent, and he’s very talented,” Hurricanes coach Jim Morris
said. “He’s got a great arm and very good hands. The fact is no
one works harder than Ryan Jackson on defense. He takes great
pride in his defense, and that’s what’s going to get him in the
Preseason All-American’s tough mentality prevents him from
letting errors on the field or outs at the plate carry over.
when you’re a young guy you take things harder,” Jackson said.
“When I make an error on defense, I know I’m most likely not
going to do it again. In baseball, you’ve got to flush it right
away. If you just keep thinking about it, you’ll just dig
yourself a hole because this game’s set up for failure.”
season, Miami ranked seventh nationally in defense, which helped
pitchers such as fellow Preseason All-American and sophomore
left-hander Chris Hernandez (11-0). Jackson, a member of the USA
baseball team, made only seven errors and finished with a .976
big having the defense behind you, being able to know that you
can give up the ground ball and they’ll make the plays for you
100 percent of the time,” Hernandez said. “Jack’s pretty much
perfect every time the ball’s hit to him. He covers a lot of
ground, and he’s just great behind you. He’s always on top of
notices a difference in the two-time ACC Honor Roll recipient.
know he’s normally a quiet guy, but you can see this year after
he was selected captain and even before in the fall that he was
more vocal,” Morris said. “He can lead by example and also by
the leadership role of talking.”
lone returning infielder from last year’s squad, Jackson already
has taken the younger players under his wing.
“Whether it’s Chris Herman or Harold Martinez or Scott Lawson,
you see him in the batting cage talking to them,” the 31-year
coaching veteran said.
Jackson, who bumped his batting average (.354) over 100 points
to finish fourth on the team, drove in 50 RBI and hopes to
showcase his all-around play after being overshadowed by Yonder
Alonso, Jemile Weeks, Dennis Raben, Blake Tekotte and Mark
Sobolewski – all of whom were taken in the 2008 MLB Draft and
left school early.
never going to knock my glove because it’s something that is a
gift, but I feel like I’m a gifted hitter as well,” said the
Iron Arrow member, which is the highest honor that can be given
to a UM student. “I think I proved that I’m balanced. I feel
like I’m one of the better hitters on our team and last year I
felt like I was just as tough an out as anybody in our lineup.”
expectations have been brought forth by both him and college
pressure. I felt like I could’ve hit higher last season, but I
had a couple of series that cost me being over .400,” Jackson
said. “I truly believe I can improve on my year, and I’m going
to try and make no errors.”
teammate and double-play partner Weeks experienced Jackson’s
defensive play first-hand and never took it for granted.
a worker, end of story,” said Weeks, an Oakland Athletics draft
pick. “That's why we were the best double-play tandem in the
country. You name a play, and we practiced it and performed it
in the game, like clockwork. If I'm a cross checker I tell the
team to take Jackson early because he will only work to get
better than what he already is. Just watch his improvement from
(photos courtesy of Miami Media Relations