Roberts' New-found Power Paces Eagles
In four years at Lake Gibson High School, Polk State College third baseman Maggie Roberts (Lakeland/Lake Gibson) never hit a home run.
However, with new teammates and a comfortable environment, Roberts has blasted five dingers in seven games including a grand slam.
The Eagle freshman is tied for second in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) in home runs and was awarded the FCSAA Player of the Week Award for the week of Feb. 4-10.
"It's so exciting," said Roberts. "My parents are proud of me and my teammates are. They all congratulated me, but I don't get any special treatment."
Roberts and the 2013 Polk State College Eagles (10-4) have settled into a comfort zone, and the chemistry has resulted in home runs for the blossoming slugger and frequent wins for the team.
The Eagles committed 27 errors in their first seven games of the 2013 season.
"We were really nervous the first seven games," said Polk State College coach Jeff Ellis, who is in his fifth year as the Eagles' head coach.
The Eagles finally loosened up and cut down their errors to five miscues in their last five games. The change has shown in recent sweeps over Lake-Sumter and Seminole State and a split with Florida State College of Jacksonville, which was ranked fifth in the nation.
Polk is now ranked eighth among state colleges in Florida.
However, the most impressive result has shown in Roberts' bat. The freshman is on an eight-game hitting streak and leads the team with 14 RBI. She's hitting .405.
It's all because Roberts and the Eagles feel at home.
While at Lake Gibson, she played under four different coaches in four years. She did not feel comfortable.
Among her new Eagle teammates, Roberts is experiencing something wonderful.
"My teammates support me a lot," said the Eagle cleanup hitter and third baseman. "They help me have the confidence to hit. I feel a lot more comfortable. It's easy for everyone to do well when we are all as one. I'm very relaxed and confident."
Roberts says she tries to hit the ball up the middle every single at bat.
"I just try to hit the ball as hard as I can and try to pick out one pitch and hit it," she said.
She's enjoying the new concept of team togetherness.
"I feel like our whole team – we have something special," Roberts said. "We're sisters. We're always hanging out. We're one. I've never had a team like that before."
Ellis couldn't be happier for Roberts and the team.
"We are playing the way we are capable of," he said. "Their chemistry is outstanding. They are finally relaxing, is all it really is. When you relax, you let your talent show."
The Eagles' relaxed attitude sets the stage for the next few weeks of action.
Polk is on the road until the Eagles host Indian River State College Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. at the DiamondPlex in Winter Haven.