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Shehan slugging way to top of NCAA ranks

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Posted: April 24, 2008 10:39 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Shehan slugging way to top of NCAA ranks

Georgia Southern's Chris Shehan hits a three-run shot over the fence off of Boston College pitcher Terry Doyle in this file photo.


    Regardless of where he hits it or how hard, the ball keeps dropping for Georgia Southern slugger Chris Shehan.
    With one month remaining in the regular season, the third-baseman-turned-outfielder continues to put up the gaudiest numbers in the Southern Conference, and his eye-popping statistics haven’t kept him from being one of the humblest guys on the field.
    Quiet, diligent and even-keeled, the muscular junior leads the league in several major categories, including batting average (.462), slugging percentage (.840), on-base percentage (.582), hits (72) and total bases (131).
    Shehan has perfected hitting third in the lineup, learning when to take walks and lay off breaking balls. He’s tied for first in the SoCon with 39 walks, ranks second in runs scored (60) and RBIs (56) and is tied for third in home runs (14) and stolen bases (18 of 19).
    Those numbers aren’t surprising to GSU’s coaching staff, which has first-hand knowledge of Shehan’s behind-the-scenes efforts such as always showing up to the field early and playing in summer leagues.    
    “Chris is a guy that’s worked tremendously hard since he’s been here,” GSU hitting coach Mike Tidick said. “He had a good freshman and sophomore year, and I think he’s building on it. He’s just getting better every day out there.”
    Head coach Rodney Hennon agrees.
    “It’s not by coincidence,” he said. “He’s a very hard worker. He’s been focused all year long, and that’s shown by his production. I’m happy for him and our team.”
    Shehan attributes his work ethic and success to his older brother Jon, who played in the Atlanta Braves organization before taking over as head coach of Division II’s Millersville University in Pennsylvania.
     “I’ve just learned so much from him about having the same routine everyday, trying to be consistent and taking the same approach,” Shehan said of Jon, who’s guided Millersville to the top of its conference after winning just nine games a year ago. “He’s really helped me out with my swing. He’s been great. He’s my personal hitting coach back at home. He’s special.”
    The ripples of Shehan’s accomplishments have been felt throughout the entire lineup, and opposing pitchers struggle to work around him with hitters like Griffin Benedict, A.J. Wirnsberger and Jeremiah Parker following Shehan in the order.
    “It makes everybody else better — the guys in front of him and the guys behind him,” Tidick said. “I think all our guys feed off that. He does a lot of the little things too that goes unnoticed at times. Everybody loves the long ball, but he does a lot of the other things as well.”
    Shehan is eligible for MLB’s first-year player draft in June and has drawn attention from scouts, but he’s not trying to look that far ahead. If he’s drafted, it’ll be his decision whether or not he returns for his senior year.
    “He’s got a chance, obviously a good chance to get the opportunity to play at the next level,” Hennon said. “When that happens — I don’t know the answer to that. Time will tell. He’s just got to take the same kind of approach he’s had up until this point.”
Note: The Eagles travel to Wofford this weekend and are tied with Western Carolina for sixth place in the league standings. GSU returns to J.I. Clements Stadium next weekend to host The Citadel.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.
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