By Eric Robinette
For Greene County News
Just as Fairborn High School’s Andy Gilbert is quick to catch a line drive that comes his way in center field, he is just as quick to deflect credit for his powerful offensive start to the season.
As of April 21, according to Greater Western Ohio Conference statistics, he was batting .377 with three home runs and 16 RBIs – both far and away the most on the Skyhawks. The three HRs leads the GWOC.
But that success is due not so much to his particular skills as to work even before the season started, he said.
“The big thing we did was that we had a plan in the off-season to do weight training. There’s good chemistry with the team, and we emphasize having fun with our teammates,” he said.
Indeed, that’s what Gilbert likes best about baseball – that the sport, by nature, is a group effort.
“It’s not like other sports where you rely on one man. Baseball is all team-based, and we’ve got a really close team that does really good work together as a unit,” Gilbert said.
His coach, Josh Patrick, said Gilbert is “a very gifted young man. He’s been given some tremendous athleticism. He plays center field for us, so he’s one of the fastest guys on the team … this year, he just jumped out right way. To be honest, we really didn’t see him doing what he’s doing, leading the Dayton area in home runs.”
At the plate, Gilbert says he’s aggressive in that “the first fastball I see, I’m going to try and jump on it as soon as possible.” And out in center field, “I’m relatively fast, and I get good reads on the ball. I chase it down and get it pretty fast.”
Gilbert, now a senior, has been playing ball ever since his dad, William Gilbert, had him join a T-ball team at around age 6. His favorite player is Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has “really evolved with the team,” Gilbert said.
That could also be said of Gilbert himself, according to Patrick.
“When I came in, Andy was a sophomore. He really grew into himself last season as a junior. He started on (junior varsity) for us and worked his way up to the varsity team about midway through the season or so, and really started coming into his own,” he said.
His success on the team also shows in his leadership off the field, said Patrick.
“Andy’s got a unique personality. He’s one of those guys that really keeps his teammates loose in the dugout. He gets them laughing, he’s got some really good one-liners. But he also does a good job as our lead-off guy. He communicates with guys early in the game … he’s the best of both worlds. He hasn’t just been doing it with his bat. He’s been helping the team with his words,” Patrick said.
Now it’s a matter of keeping the momentum going, and the strong start to the season will help the Skyhawks do that, said the center fielder.
“Anytime something goes bad, we can look at all the confidence that helped us at the start of the season,” Gilbert said.