In his four years as a member of the baseball team, center fielder Daniel Spingola has been an asset for the Jackets both at the plate and in the field. Though he began his career as a walk-on, he has developed into a mainstay both at the top of Tech’s lineup and in the most demanding position in the outfield.
Part of the job description of the leadoff hitter is the ability to consistently reach base and give the team plenty of opportunities to score. Spingola certainly fits the bill this year, especially in conference play. His .381 batting average, .435 on base percentage, and .540 slugging percentage in ACC games is second on the team only to injured freshman phenom Kel Johnson. He is also coming off of a career high 26 game reached base streak, during which he also set a career best 12 game hitting streak. In fact, he has only played two games this year in which he has not reached base, and has recorded hits in all but seven games this season.
“I think I was just trying to focus at the plate and have good at bats, and see pitches so I could get comfortable up there,” Spingola said, explaining his streaks. “All good things must come to an end, but it was definitely good while it lasted. Got to go start another one now.”
His performance in the recent series at Virginia Tech was particularly noteworthy, as he compiled eight hits for a .615 average overall and nearly hit for the cycle in the series finale. He drove in three RBIs in both the first and third games of the series, bringing his number of such games on the year to four to lead the team.
Spingola has come a long way from his early playing days with the Jackets. He played in only 23 games as a freshman and made just eight starts, but the coaches took notice of his .349 batting average and work ethic. He earned more playing time the following year in 2013, appearing in most of the Jackets’ games while stating in 21, continuing to grow as a ballplayer and playing well enough to earn the starting job as a junior.
“My game has definitely evolved over the years,” Spingola said. “I think I have just kind of refined the player I wanted to be, because coming out of high school I just didn’t know what that meant at first. Definitely over the years here I have become what I hoped to be.”
That junior year was a remarkable one, as he batted .319 and led the entire ACC in hits with 82. These numbers, combined with his team leading .451 slugging percentage and 36 RBIs, were major factors in Tech’s ACC Championship campaign and propelled the team to another berth in the NCAA regionals. Spingola hopes to finally get the team over the hump and advance to super regionals in 2015.
“I expect us to just keep getting better as the season goes on and keep competing as we have been all season,” Spingola said. “I feel like we’re on an upward trend and I want us to continue doing that.”
Although his collegiate career is nearing its end, Spingola hopes that it does not also signal the end of his playing days. He was drafted in the 24th round of the MLB draft by the Chicago Cubs in 2014, but chose to stay at Tech to play out his senior season. This summer, he will enter his name into the draft and hope for a team to come calling again. Barring that, he says, he will return to Tech in the fall to complete his degree in Biomedical Engineering.