Farris takes lead for right field


Kristin Sherrard

Early this season, sophomore outfielder Cory Farris had to look at the lineup card each and every game to see if he was getting the start or if he was getting a little more familiar with the bench.

He was in the middle of a position battle in right field, and his fate hung each game on the dugout wall.

“I never knew who would be starting until I looked at the lineup,” Farris said. “It was always up in the air.”

Farris has since established himself as the frontrunner to be UK’s right fielder, if he hasn’t already earned the spot for good with a hot bat at the plate. He provides power, leading the team with five home runs despite ranking tenth on the team with 41 at-bats. He provides hits too, ranking third on the team with a .341 batting average.

“He has taken the lead in right field,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “He’s becoming a presence at the plate. He’s been putting good swings on the ball, getting hits and providing some power.”

Farris started the year in a platoon based on matchups, and saw most of his playing time come against right-handed pitchers. But the starts have been coming more consistently now.

In Sunday’s game against Ole Miss, Farris started against a left-hander, which may signify his bat is too valuable to take out no matter who, and what type of arm, is on the mound facing him. Even if the arm is that of an All-American.

Facing San Diego State’s All-American pitcher, Farris earned his second start of the year and responded with a two-hit, two-RBI game. Farris said it was a turning point for him, knowing the coaches had enough confidence to put him in the lineup against a top-notch pitcher.

“That game, and that trip out west, was when you really saw Cory turn the corner,” Henderson said. “He’s been much better in his pitch selection.”

Obviously, things can change. Nobody knows that better than Farris, who began his freshman year as the starter, went through a rough mid-season patch and lost the spot before gaining it back at the end of the year.

Henderson said he can never guarantee one guy or the next will be penciled in to start on any given day. But this year, seeing Farris’ name in pencil is starting to become more and more common. Farris has earned 11 starts in 20 games so far in 2010.

“It’s never really my spot,” Farris said. “I’m going to have to keep playing the way I am, keep hitting, keep producing. But I feel like if I do that I will keep seeing playing time. I expect to start now.”

Coming out on the other side of a position battle can ease the mental stress of having to compete day in and day out for a job.

“I was pressing a lot more than I needed to,” Farris said. “The thought that if I don’t do good I might be sitting for a while was there.  But you have to get past that point.”

And now that he is past that point, Farris can focus in on playing the game rather than wondering if he will be playing in the game.

“One thing is I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’m playing,” Farris said. “I can go out there and relax and just focus on my at-bats and how I’m playing.”