June 4, 2004
by Simit Shah
When Brandon Boggs says he’s just happy to be playing this time of year, the Yellow Jacket centerfielder means it. The past two seasons have ended a bit prematurely for the junior, but he’s primed for the postseason this time around.
The Marietta, Ga., native has been one the team’s primary offensive weapons this year for the fifth-ranked Jackets, hitting .330 with 55 RBI and eight homers while starting every game.
“He’s doing everything a guy could possibly do,” said coach Danny Hall. “I’m happy for him. He’s improved dramatically, not only year to year, but from the beginning of this year to where he’s at now. He’s made great strides.”
Boggs and his teammates host one of the NCAA regionals this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. The double-elimination format also includes Mississippi State, Texas Tech and Jacksonville State. This also marks the Georgia Tech’s 19th NCAA berth in the past 20 seasons.
For Boggs, the last two years have been difficult at times. Late-season hitting slumps forced him to sit on the bench during the most crucial time of year. The 2003 season ended with an epic 3-for-39 slump and cast doubt on his promising future.
However, this season, Boggs emerged as one of the key components during a school record 20-game winning streak, which was snapped last weekend at the ACC Tournament.
“Freshman year, you just get a feel for what college baseball is,” Boggs explained. “Last year, I got in a pretty bad slump. This year I’ve settled down, and I know what I’m doing. I have two years of college baseball under my belt. I’m playing well now.”
So well that he was named to the all-ACC first team after hitting safely in 23 of the last 30 games and hitting three homers over the course of the final seven regular season games.
“We had a conversation (earlier this season),” recalled Hall. “His comment to me was that he needed to be one of the guys to step and lead the team, help the team. He’s done that.”
Boggs credits his summer spent in the Cape Cod League for helping him to get back on track. Using wooden bats forced him to focus more on the fundamentals of hitting, and it’s paid off this season.
“I’ve got a quicker bat this year,” he said. “It’s just a good experience when you get those things going for you–bat speed and seeing the ball well.”
On April 18, the Yellow Jackets fell to 21-17 overall after dropping two of three at home to Washington. Ranked as high as third in the nation early in the season, Tech found itself bounced from the three major polls and in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament altogether.
“That was tough, but we knew we were better than that,” said Boggs. “At that point, you can either lie down or fight back. I think the way we’ve responded says a lot about this team.”
Boggs, a switch-hitter, has impressed scouts with his play this season, leading to projections that he’ll be a high pick later this month in the Major League Baseball draft.
In the meantime, he’s got his sights set on a second trip to Omaha. “The streak really gave us a lot of confidence, and that’s what you need this time of year,” he explained. “After getting knocked out of the NCAAs early last season and the way was started this year, we’ve got plenty of motivation. We’ve gotten everything going at the right time of year.”