Aug. 1, 2011
No one had higher expectations for Zach Alvord's freshman season at Auburn than Zach himself. In fact, the rising sophomore was determined that he would see playing time and made that a priority when he arrived on campus.
"I had to learn a lot," Alvord said. "I worked hard and had a pretty good amount of playing time. It was a great experience out there in the field. I enjoyed the time that I got."
Alvord made his mark with the Tigers in the 2011 season. Despite batting just .197, Alvord had 14 base knocks and drove in seven RBI in 35 games, including 17 starts. He also contributed a solid effort from second and short with 27 put outs and 50 assists.
After earning the chance to play as a freshman, Alvord knew he still had adjustments to make to improve his game. He joined veteran teammate Slade Smith in the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL) as members of the Bourne Braves located in Bourne, Mass., and wasted no time in getting back to work.
"I was changing a lot with my swing, and I never got comfortable while I was hitting at Auburn," Alvord said. "This summer I have worked out all the kinks in my swing, and I've been feeling great. I've been hitting the ball very well, and it feels like everything is back to normal."
In 22 games with the Braves, Alvord is batting .254 after 71 plate appearances. He has collected 18 hits, including seven doubles, one triple and one home run, and has driven in 10 RBI. Alvord attributes some of his success to playing in a league that uses wooden bats, instead of the metal used in the collegiate game; a change Alvord is comfortable with and says he almost prefers.
"I really like wood bats just as much or more than metal bats, to be honest," Alvord said. "Getting into the groove of things was a little slow because there's obviously a big difference between metal and wood, but once I got used to it, it felt great."
From a fielding perspective, Alvord says the bats haven't affected the offensive production, especially in a league dominated by hard-hitting talent.
"There are still a bunch of balls going into the outfield," Alvord said. "Cape Cod is one the premier summer league to play in, and there are guys that can mash the ball everywhere. It's a great group of players up there, and there's no slack in the bats at all."
Alvord has also seen similarities between the CCBL and the Southeastern Conference. As one of the most dominant conferences in collegiate baseball, Alvord says he has seen a lot of talent this summer typical of what he sees during SEC play.
"The SEC and Cape Cod are very competitive," Alvord said. "You can take some of the top guys off of each and every SEC team and the top one or two pitchers, and you would basically have a Cape Cod match up."
While playing in a competitive league can be daunting at times, Alvord has had the luxury of playing alongside and living with Smith throughout the summer. Alvord says that has made the season even more enjoyable.
"As a freshman coming up here and him being a junior, it's helped to have an older guy with me," Alvord said. "We went into it together, and it's been great so far. We've had a really great experience, it's been a lot of fun, and we've gotten along really well."
As the summer season quickly draws to a close, Alvord is already looking ahead to his return to Plainsman Park.
"Those of us coming back are definitely going to have to step up into a leadership role this year," Alvord said. "There are going to be a lot of changes on the team as far as how we're going to play. Last year we finished right at .500, and we'll have higher expectations for this year with the group of guys we have coming back with their playing time. I definitely feel confident in what I can do now coming back to Auburn. I feel like we're going to be a great team and a stronger team."
by Mae Margaret Davis, Auburn Media Relations
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