Lebanon High grad has gained confidence at the plate and leads team in hitting
by: , GEORGE

CORVALLIS — If you had Drew George in the preseason pool to predict Oregon State’s batting leader at this point in the season, you need to head to Vegas fast with a bundle of cash. After a disappointing junior campaign in 2007 in which he lost his starting job before the NCAA playoffs, George has come on like gangbusters. The Lebanon High grad leads the Beavers into this weekend’s three-game series against Arizona at Goss Stadium with a .375 average — a far cry from the .259 figure he posted last season. Coach Pat Casey and George — who transferred last season from Lower Columbia Community College — pretty much agree on the reason for such vast improvement. “Confidence,” Casey says. “Getting a year under his belt. Trusting and believing he can do it. Working at it. Last year, Drew was just excited to be part of Oregon State baseball. This year, his attitude has been, ‘I’d rather be a part of it on the field than in the dugout.’ ” A shortstop at Lebanon and Lower Columbia, George opened last season as OSU’s starting third baseman. He didn’t hit well enough to hold the job, though, and was beaten out late in the regular season by slick-fielding, timely hitting Lonnie Lechelt. George didn’t see a minute of action in the postseason as the Beavers earned their second straight national championship. “I wasn’t satisfied with my season,” George says. “I didn’t hit as well as I felt I should. But we won the national championship, something I never thought I’d do in my life. That was the No. 1 goal. “Everybody wants to play, but we were playing so well (in the postseason), I had to understand.” Conventional wisdom was that George would be a bit player this season. But he has hit so consistently, Casey had to find a spot for him. The switch-hitting George was above .400 much of the season, owns a team-best .476 on-base percentage and is second with a .558 slugging percentage. “Drew has stayed above the .350 mark, has hit with power on occasion, has gotten on base for us and has given us flexibility by hitting in several spots in the order,” Casey says. “I didn’t come into the season worrying about playing time,” George says. “I knew I’d get a chance in the preseason — everybody does.” The defensive side has been more of a struggle. George has committed 10 of Oregon State’s 35 errors. Some have been costly in games the Beavers lost. “I had a couple of errors where I threw the ball high and a couple of others on ground balls I just missed,” he says. “I’m not going to make any excuses. I’ve made a few errors I shouldn’t have made. “I feel like I’m a good defensive guy. What bothers me about making errors is I’m letting down the coaches, because they’re putting me out there. Coach Casey trusts me to be out there and make every play. “But I’m not stressing over it. I’m just trying to get better every day.” George has made plenty of outstanding plays at third base, too. “The last play of Saturday’s game at Arizona State (a diving grab of a line drive) was just phenomenal,” Casey says. “But he booted a couple of ground balls (against the Sun Devils) that were routine. He has some upside to be pretty good defensively. He has a strong arm and is fairly mobile. He just needs to be more consistent.” George batted left-handed in high school but decided to switch-hit before he left for Lower Columbia. “Every day that whole August, I hit right-handed with my dad (Rick George) in the batting cage,” he says. The results were outstanding: As a sophomore, he hit .367 and was named his division’s most valuable player. Now, he feels equally comfortable hitting from both sides. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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