He choked up the bat, breathed easy and when he liked what he saw, took a swing. As he looked up, junior infielder Fox Semones saw his first home run of the season fly over the wall in left-center field. The home run, his first of the year, is one of the numerous examples of the roller-coaster-type season the Woodbridge, Virginia, native has had this year with JMU baseball.
Semones’ first home run of the season came on the series finale against the CAA rival Delaware Blue Hens, the Dukes’ first conference matchup of the season. With a 3-0 lead established thanks to his efforts, JMU would go on to win the game 7-4 and the series 2-1.
“I wasn’t really trying to do too much,” Semones said. “With runners in scoring position, I was just looking to put the bat on the ball with a good swing.”
Over the last week, Semones has hit a .418 batting average with 11 hits to bring his season batting average to .245. The beginning of the season wasn't as productive for the junior infielder compared to previous seasons, as he hit .163 through the first 13 games of the season. As to his resurgence at the plate, Semones says it was all a matter of going back to basics with his technique.
“These last couple of weeks, starting kind of around High Point, I’ve just tried to take nice, easy swings and put the bat on the ball,” Semones said. “I’ve got the strength to just barrel balls and put them where I need to.”
For Semones, this recent approach is a result of remembering that getting contact doesn't mean swinging as hard as he can. His aggressive takes at the plate at the beginning of the season often led to his helmet flying off his head while in the batter’s box. During the televised series against Louisville last month, one of ESPN’s broadcasters was astonished at how many times in the series Semones’ helmet flew off his head following his swings.
“I tried to swing so hard I’d just throw my helmet off sometimes,” Semones said.
Since then, that issue has been addressed. Semones recently received an improved helmet for his hacks at the plate.
“We got a newer helmet that’s a lot tighter and actually fits my head now,” Semones continued. “It’s been a big help.”
Comfort at the plate wasn’t the only thing Semones had to readjust to this season. He fractured his nose when a foul ball hit him in the face during an at-bat againstLehigh during JMU’s game on March 12th. The injury kept him out of the JMU lineup against Delaware on Friday for the team’s first CAA game of the 2019 campaign.
“He had to have [his nose] reset on Thursday,” head coach Marlin Ikenberry said. “That hurt us a little bit on Friday night — him not allowed to be in the lineup.”
Despite the injury and trying to go yard at every plate appearance early on in the season, Semones is on the rebound for the Dukes. The junior’s new approach to his game has worked well so far, as he is currently on an 11-game hitting streak for the ball club. His coach only sees good things in store for him for the rest of the season.
“He’s putting together some really good hits,” Ikenberry said. “When Fox gets going, it’s fun to watch.”
Despite the injury, early struggles and even wardrobe malfunctions, Semones has been one of the most entertaining Dukes to watch this season. His recent success may be a sign of more to come for not only himself, but for the rest of his team. As conference play has just gotten underway, this may have been the best time for Semones to get hot.
Contact Jordan Simal at email@example.com. For more baseball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.