Auburn’s DiChiara is even better than you think

5 hours ago
Joe Mentzer SEC network

Photo: Auburn Athletics

Omaha, Nebraska – Perhaps the scariest thing about Sony DiCiara’s opponents, after going through the disarming smile, engaging personality and long home runs he launched during his first season at Auburn, is that this otherwise likable Tiger is now better than even his ever-growing one can think of a legion of the greatest admirers.

That’s what his coach Butch Thompson said on the eve of DiKiara’s debut in the Men’s College World Series. Auburn will open the match at 2022 MCWS Saturday at 19:00 ET vs. The enemy of SEC Ole Miss in Charles Schwab Field Omaha in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2.

“If you look at it analytically,” Thompson said, “he can have a bigger impact on any team than any other college baseball player.”

Let Thompson explain how he goes beyond the usual numbers, which are impressive enough. 6 feet 1 and 263 pounds DiChiara, named CoSEC Player of the Year with Dylan Crews of LSU, entered the race on Saturday night with .392 with 22 home runs and 59 runs after starting all 58 games for Auburn to date. .

But Thompson insists you need to take a closer look, starting with the 68 walks that DiKiara’s patient painted in 271 appearances on a plaque. DiChiara also reached base nine times this season after being hit from the field, leaving him with 194 official bats and a 0.560 percent eye-catching base.

“When you look at his RBI and look at his home runs, there are some college baseball guys who have more,” Thompson said. “When you take those 70 bats out of there, because most of those 70 (opposing teams) don’t want to be fooled by it, it changes things. His numbers may have been astronomical, but they chose not to give him a bunch. “

DiCiara moved to Auburn from the little-known Samford at the Southern Conference, where he posted good figures, but nothing like what he presented this season. Still, he, his teammates and his coach insist they were not surprised by his success in the SEC, which looks so stunning to outsiders.

They are all in a hurry to add that Sonny D is more than just analysis and numbers anyway. It is simply a positive personal strength that we must consider on a daily basis.

“I played against Sony for a long time when he was in Samford. And every time he was like that, don’t focus on that man, don’t let him beat you,” said Auburn’s fieldfield player Cason Howell. “When he came to Auburn, I wasn’t surprised how well he fit. I had heard nothing but good things about him from everyone who knew him.

“So he’s just coming in and he’s a great presence in the locker room, everyone loves him. Obviously the fans love him. And his professionalism, the way he goes every day in practice and the way he runs his business is simple, it’s contagious and it really just helped our team get a lot stronger. “

Tigers Peter Carson Skipper said he grew up playing baseball with and against DiChiara for years, so he knew him well before DiChiara arrived in Auburn.

“Yes, at the age of 6 in high school. And we played against each other while he was at Stanford, “Skipper said. “I was able to see him grow all his life, how good a striker he really is. And for him to come here and be able to do his thing, it was amazing to see.”

DiCiara usually rejects all high praise with a quick smile, dripping with delightful humility, which seems to only make people love him more.

“When I showed up on Day One and saw these guys, I met everyone and saw how hard they worked, it infected me,” he said. “I really put my nose in it and got to work. I wanted to make so much money with these guys.”

They have won enough together to be one of the last eight teams in college baseball this year, setting an overall record of 42-20 in Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.

Thompson insists he was not surprised by the way DiKiara shattered the SEC’s performance, which is clearly better than what DiKiara faced from enemies in the Southern Conference while in Samford. He said the four-judge system used by the SEC, along with the advent of TrackMan baseball technology, which tracks balls and shots and is being studied by both referees, coaches and players, has helped make DiChiara an even better striker than he was. on arrival. in Auburn.

Combined with the fact that DiCiara was actually expected to carry less, not more, to Auburn than to Samford, it also helped, Thompson said.

“He had to wear something (in Samford),” Thompson said. “He doesn’t have to carry that much for us. And I think it’s a little better hitting area where this slider rolls, three or four balls off the plate, he can get the ball out of it now because so much is much appreciated by our SEC judges and so on. .n.

“But in the past, when that ball was called (hit) two or three balls in a row off the plate, it felt like he had to try. inside, two balls. I think that allowed him to get to the truest, smallest hit zone of his career. “

No matter how he performs in this college world series, anyone who has been around Sonny D this season at Auburn expects to see the optimistic DiChiara continue to smile on his way through it.

“He’s in good health,” Thompson said. “And I’m so grateful that a player like him, with so much charisma and so much play, gets a chance to play in an environment like this.”

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