Catching Up With Levi Hyams: Bulldog Back In California
March 10, 2011
For most individuals, change does not come easy. Whether it’s transferring to a new job or moving to a new town, there is always a feeling of uncertainty and angst as you await your first day in a new setting. For Georgia second baseman Levi Hyams, change is simply a part of life.
Hyams came to the University of Georgia via Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Va., but spent three years of high school at Santa Fe Christian in Oceanside, Calif. Hyams father, Mike, was in the Marine Corps and moving across the country was commonplace for the Hyams family.
For Hyams, baseball was one constant in a world of constant change.
“Baseball definitely made the transition easier,” said Hyams. “When you move somewhere, your first thought is getting in with a new group of friends. You’ve got to meet new people and sport definitely helps with that. I liked moving around a lot. I got to experience a bunch of different kinds of ball, different types of cultures and communities. I thought it was a good experience, getting to learn how people act and how people play. It was a lot easier coming into college too because a lot of people live in one place for their whole life and it’s a whole different feeling. That was me every three years.”
However, even on the diamond, the junior has not been able to avoid moving from place to place. Hyams began his career at UGA as a second baseman, starting his first collegiate game as a freshman on Opening Day 2009 against Youngstown State at Foley Field. Midway through the 2009 campaign, Hyams became the Bulldogs every day shortstop and held that position until Kyle Farmer entered the Georgia program in 2010. Not surprisingly, Hyams took the change in stride.
“The shift wasn’t really that difficult,” Hyams stated. “To be honest, it’s really the same position. It’s just a different angle on the field and a shorter throw. I like playing second base because I like turning two from that side a little better.”
Hyams’ flexibility has proved to be a great asset for the Bulldogs. Hyams and Farmer provided excellent defense up the middle for Georgia last season, combining to commit only 13 errors in 378 chances (.965 fielding percentage). He attributes the strong defensive presence of the Bulldogs middle infield to the chemistry between Farmer and himself.
“Kyle and I really have great chemistry,” Hyams said. “We trust each other. We played most of last year together and then all fall and all spring so we definitely trust each other. We know our limits, we know what the other can get and how each other plays. Lately, the middle has struggled a little bit, but I have full confidence that we’ll bounce back because we’re tight and very close. The chemistry is fantastic and that adds up to success in the latter parts of the year.”
In addition to defensive shifts, the Bulldog second baseman has also seen changes in his spot in the lineup through his three years at Georgia. Hyams has been penciled in the starting lineup in every slot but fourth and sixth in his time at UGA, but has primarily hit leadoff and third this season. Hyams has already taken note of the differences in hitting leadoff for the Bulldogs.
“It’s different because you set the pace of the game for your team,” described Hyams. “You want to get up there and have a good at-bat and let your team see some pitches, hopefully get on base so they can help you get around and score for the team. It is a little bit different, because a lot of times the first pitch is the best pitch to hit because they usually throw you a fastball in the zone that you can crush. I’ve tried to do that a few times and it hasn’t really worked out so well so I’ve decided to let it go, see a couple pitches and let the team get acclimated to how the pitcher is throwing to a hitter rather than just having them see warm up pitches.”
After a change in position last season, Hyams was able to get in a groove at the plate, hitting .310 with two home runs and 22 RBIs in SEC action. His hot streak has carried over into the beginning of the young 2011 season. Hyams currently leads the team in average (.340) and ranks among the leaders in doubles and RBI. Both statistics and patience at the plate come with age, according to Hyams.
“It comes with experience,” Hyams stated. “This is my third go around so I’m starting to pick up tendencies better, laying off pitches that I would normally swing at. I’ve got a better eye for things. Overall, I think that helps but my patience at the plate has definitely grown because I used to just be a wild hacker but I’ve learned to swing at things in the zone now and that helps out.”
Although he has seen many different parts of the country, Hyams knew that the University of Georgia was his new home the first time that he set foot on campus.
“Our family has always been Bulldog fans so that was the basic deciding factor. I got a few offers from other schools but Georgia was always number one for me. I came to campus one time for my visit, went to a football game, got to meet the players and coaches and fell in love. I knew then that this was the place I wanted to be."
For now, Hyams wants to focus on baseball and help Georgia win. While he remains unsure about his future plans after baseball, he believes that he would like to turn his love for movies into a career.
“I’m not really sure right now. I think it’d be cool to manage a movie theater or something like that because I like to watch movies. I haven’t really given it a ton of thought. But right now, I’m just focused on the present, winning some ball games for JT (Johnathan Taylor) and this team and getting back to the SEC Tournament.”
Hyams and the Bulldogs (5-8) return to action against Friday in Los Angeles when they face 10th-ranked UCLA (7-4). First pitch at Jackie Robinson Stadium is set for 9 p.m. ET. Georgia will start sophomore left-hander Alex Wood (0-2, 6.52 ERA) while the Bruins counter with junior right-hander Gerrit Cole (1-1, 1.16 ERA).
Catching Up With Levi Hyams was written by UGA Sports Communications student assistant Alex Zerkel.
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