Fall Baseball Spotlight: Levi Hyams
Nov. 2, 2011
An Exercise Science major from Stafford Va., Levi Hyams is poised for a special senior year where he aims to lead the Bulldogs back to the postseason. Prior to the 2011 MLB draft, he informed professional scouts that he would be returning to Georgia for his final collegiate season. He owns a career batting average of .311 in 167 games for the Bulldogs including 159 starts. He helped Georgia advance to the 2011 NCAA Corvallis (Ore.) Regional Final, and he made the All-Regional team. Hyams led the 2011 squad in batting at .332 and posted a school record .983 fielding percentage at second base. Overall, the Bulldogs set the mark for best fielding percentage in school history at .974.
Offensively, some of his best performances last year included going 5-6 with a double and 2 RBIs against #16 Baylor; batted .429 with six RBIs in a series against Ole Miss; a 3-5 showing with two home runs, two walks, and 4 RBI at Kentucky; and hit .529 (9-for-17) in the NCAA Regional.
Evan Beever of the Georgia Sports Communications office visited with Hyams at Foley Field for this week's Bulldog spotlight.
How are your preparations going for the 2012 season?
"I feel like this fall we're accomplishing everything that we want to accomplish, and we're getting the freshman where we want them to be with sharpening their skills. Also, I feel like the older guys are going about their business the right way."
What is your most important goal for the 2012 season?
"It's just for us to give it all we have every single game. I know people are going to be shooting for us this year, and we really want to prove to everyone that we are improving as a team every single year and every single game. I feel like we have been improving ever since my sophomore year. We just have to keep that going, keep that momentum flowing."
What did you take away from last season?
"Well, the biggest thing was when J.T. (Johnathan Taylor) got hurt. You just can't take things for granted. Sometimes, I get out here, especially lately if I don't have success at the plate or if I make an error in the field, I think to myself that this is the worst thing ever but then I think about J.T., and he really inspires me. Which makes me think, I'm playing baseball, I'm having a good time, and I need to look at it that way and not be so down on myself. That experience involving J.T. just turned my thought process around. He's such a good friend to me, and he's just the life-blood of this team."
What was your most memorable moment of the 2011 season?
"It was definitely the SEC Tournament. After losing that first game and coming back and winning those next few was just incredible. You've got to give credit to our team and our coaches that we were able to fight against the odds and make it to a regional. That was very huge for us, and I was very proud of our guys."
Who's had the greatest impact on your life?
"My dad has definitely had the greatest impact on my life. My dad's the one that always took me out to the field, hit me ground balls, threw me BP (batting practice) and just kept me going even when I was down on myself and wanted to quit when I was younger. He always told me that I needed to keep it going; that I could be something special if I put my mind to it. I guess I've always carried that with me, and without him, I wouldn't be where I am today."
Are there any improvements that you're working on for the 2012 season?
"I'm just trying to get better in a sense of swinging at the right pitches and laying off some of the pitches that I would have normally swung at last year or the year before. I'm shuffling up my game a little so if they're trying to throw off-speed in the dirt then I'm laying off that so that I might get a better pitch to hit like a good fastball."
What's your thought process during a typical at-bat?
"To be honest, not really a whole lot. Some of the best hitters don't think mechanics, or exactly what they have to do. They just go in there and stay relaxed; they have a calm manner about themselves and a blank mind. All they want to do is hit the ball hard and complete whatever situation is possible. That could be moving a guy over; if he is on third, you get him in. It's just going up there and digging in and knowing that I'm going to be better than the guy on the mound and just finding my pitch and driving it."
What is the most interesting play in baseball?
"I may be a little biased, but it has to be the double play. I love it; I love turning them because it's such a momentum swing for whatever team it goes against. You know you have a guy on with nobody out and the next guy hits into a double play and the momentum is gone for that inning. It's very hard to regain momentum after that happens. Kyle (Farmer) and I have turned a lot of them."
What is your favorite thing about playing second base?
"I guess the fact that I just have more time than any other positions to take care of a ground ball. At third or shortstop, you might kick a ball right in front of you or a little bit to your side and you may not be able to get the guy out. At second base, I have all the time in the world, I can kick it in front of me, to the left, or right, maybe bobble it a little bit and I will still have time to get the guy out. I don't have to rush and being able to turn the double play just makes it sweeter."
What kind of communication during the game do you have with shortstop Kyle Farmer?
"We communicate at certain times throughout the game when necessary. When a guy is on first, we discuss who is covering, but we've got to the point now where we know what the other is going to do, and we know what we need to do in certain situations. It's like how they say that twins share the same thoughts. I feel like when Kyle and I are out there, we're thinking the same things. It's been nice to play next to a guy like that."
How are you embracing a senior leadership role?
"I'm trying to do the best I can and be a good role model. If I see that one of the freshmen is having a bad day, I'll put my arm around him and say, `Hey it's all right. It's going to happen. You play in a ton of games and you're going to have bad games. I've had the worst of them. You've just got to keep your head up and the player you become is not how you do today, it's how you recover from a terrible day. If you do bad today, I want you to come back and have a fighting attitude and do a lot better tomorrow.' I'm just trying to instill that in them and make sure they go about their business the right way so that when I'm gone and they become the veterans, they can teach the younger guys the right way too."