TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State junior Jacob Hayes had high hopes for his college baseball career after stellar tenures both at Terre Haute South and for the Wayne Newton Post 346 American Legion team.
Until this summer, it hadn’t quite worked out all that well.
One frustrating year at Ohio State, followed by a redshirt year after transferring to ISU and then admittedly “not a very good year” for the Sycamores last spring were sandwiched around a pair of up-and-down summers for the Terre Haute Rex.
Hayes regained his form this summer and got back in the groove for the Marysville (Calif.) Gold Sox, who finished second in the Don McCullough Division of the Horizon Air Summer Series with a 27-13 record.
Hayes started 35 of 36 games in the outfield, leading the team in hitting at .339 with nine doubles, two triples and a home run with 26 RBI. He posted a .465 slugging percentage and successfully stole 17 bases in 19 attempts.
For his efforts, Hayes was named to the Horizon Air Summer Series All-Series 2013 Baseball First Team.
“It was definitely the best summer I’ve had since senior year of Legion,” Hayes said. “I hit once or twice with coaches, separate from BP, I tweaked a couple of things in my swing.
“They are less results-based, and I really like that,” he said, noting the coaches were more interested in the number of well-hit balls than whether they found their way through a hole in the defense or not.
“We have talked about that at ISU, but it really hit home this summer,” he added. “They consider a well-hit ball that gets caught by a fielder to still be a success, and not a failure.”
Hayes said the league is comparable but maybe a little below the Prospect League, which he played in the last two summers.
One appealing thing about it was it’s in a part of the country where he hasn’t spent much time.
“When looking for summer team, I knew I didn’t want to play at home again. I haven’t had a summer good enough to put me into a good league somewhere, and I wanted to get far away from home where I hadn’t been before. It probably relaxed me a little bit, and it worked out great.”
Between games, Hayes was able to have the best sightseeing trips of his life. Driving out to California and back took him through several majestic national parks, and there were many other nearby things to see.
“We were just north of Sacramento, and I was able to go to San Francisco a couple of times, Los Angeles a couple of times, and I drove to Las Vegas twice,” he said. “It was amazing to see everything.”
In his first season with the Sycamores, Hayes started 42 of the 51 games he played in, with a .248 batting average, 12 stolen bases (second on the team), 24 RBI (third on the team) and 20 runs scored.
Hayes hopes this year can catapult him to more success over the rest of his ISU career, and he already is better acquainted with new coach Mitch Hannahs than most of his teammates.
Hayes and ISU teammate Derek Hannahs, the coach’s son, both spent their freshman seasons at Ohio State and the two families spent some time together.
“We’d go out to eat with their family, and I got to know him pretty well through that,” Hayes said. “Now he will be my coach. I watched his press conference online, and I liked everything he had to say.
“I especially liked that he said he’s going to approach things aggressively on base paths,” he added. “He seems pretty laid back and friendly, and he obviously had a lot of success at Lincoln Trail.”
He’s just glad to be turning over a new leaf in his baseball career.
“It feels good to finally have a good season,” he said. “I haven’t had one since I’ve been in college.”
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.