‘Stay within yourself’Published 10:16pm Thursday, March 28, 2013
Berry leads Mt. Olive, earns conference honor
Mount Olive College senior third baseman Jermaine Berry is lighting up the competition in his final year of college competition. The Nansemond River High School graduate was selected as the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas Baseball Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks for exemplary performances in four victories last week.
Berry cited a pretty straightforward reason for his particularly high level of play in March.
“I think it’s just being hot at the right time, just putting the ball in play and just having fun out there with my teammates and battling every time we go out on the field,” he said.
Against Armstrong Atlantic State University, the Trojans trailed 11-3, but they used the last four innings of the game to erase the deficit. Berry had a single and a run batted in to help them come back. With the score tied 11-11 in the ninth, he hit another single to set in motion a three-run inning that resulted in the 14-11 win.
Berry had at least one hit in all four games that week, going 9-of-15 for a .600 batting average. During his 17 most recent games, he has hit in 14 of them. This consistency boosted his season batting average to .402.
Berry also said that receiving personal awards is not his focus.
“It’s a great accomplishment to get, but it’s not like something I go out there and look forward to every week,” he said.
He has a lot more experience this year, and this week he compared his ability as a player now to when he was a freshman at Patrick Henry Community College.
“I’m a lot more mature on the field, a lot smarter too,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from my coaching staff here at Mount Olive.
Head coach Carl Lancaster has been pleased to have Berry on his team, which, as of Thursday, was ranked fourth in the nation among National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II schools.
“I tell you what — Jermaine has just got a knack for barreling up a baseball,” Lancaster said. “He has been one of our better hitters for the last two years, actually. And right now, he’s pretty hot for us.”
Lancaster describes Berry as a good player, but also very soft-spoken, the latter trait being the only thing he would change about him if he could. Nevertheless, he is an effective leader by example, as a good player and a good student.
“He’s one of our captains, and he is not the vocal guy. He’s just where he’s supposed to be all the time, whether it be in a classroom or it be on a baseball field,” Lancaster said. “I think the guys look up to him more than people think, simply because he goes about what he’s doing in a (business-like) way.”
Berry has batted in the vicinity of .400 in both his junior and senior years.
“I don’t think there’s a pitch that he can’t get to,” Lancaster said. “Matter of fact, sometimes I think he gets to some pitches that I’d rather him leave alone.”
Berry said his developing maturity manifests itself on the field when he is able to “just go out there and relax… just go out there and make plays and just see what happens. Don’t start sweating or trying to do too much; stay within yourself.”
Though he would love to play baseball professionally after college, he has a solid non-baseball plan, just in case.
“I get my degree in business management next semester, and after that, hopefully get a job,” he said. “I think I played to the best of my ability for my college career,” he said. “I don’t really have any regrets.”