Fernandez prepares to fill starting shortstop role as freshman for Syracuse

first_img Published on February 5, 2015 at 12:18 am Contact Liam: [email protected] When Leigh Ross first went to recruit her first shortstop after joining the Syracuse program, Morgan Nandin was a high school sophomore that had all the tools she was looking for. Nandin fielded well, made the correct reads and could throw and field at every angle.Nandin, now a student coach, started every single game of her career, totaling 227 starts to become SU’s all-time leader in games started. She also owns the all-time record with 476 assists and 36 double plays turned.When Ross first saw Sammy Fernandez a couple years ago, she was reminded of her first star shortstop.“You don’t find those types of players like that very often,” Ross said. “… It’s pretty rare to see them, especially as freshman players coming in.”As Fernandez begins her freshman campaign this weekend for the Orange during five games in the Total Sports Control Invitational, Ross expects her to enjoy success right away just as Nandin did. Fernandez will be an “everyday middle infielder,” switching from second base and shortstop depending on whether last year’s second baseman, Julie Wambold, is catching on a given day.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe freshman started all five years she was on varsity at Carmel High School in New York. She was named to the New York All-State team from eighth grade to senior year, made the NYS All-Section First Team in her junior and senior years and led Carmel softball team to its first-ever section championship in 2013.Ross said that there hasn’t been a noticeable adjustment to D-I softball for Fernandez because being a middle infielder comes so naturally to her. Nandin agrees, saying that Fernandez could have played with the team as early as her sophomore year of high school. “The way the coaches and older players believe in me has made the transition a lot easier,”Fernandez said. “I can tell I belong.”Describing the way Fernandez takes ground balls as “fluid” and “smooth,” Ross said that she sees shades of Nandin when Fernandez makes plays in practice that the typical freshman wouldn’t be able to make.“It’s refreshing as a coach to get out there and not have to teach the fundamentals,” Nandin said. In spite of her natural abilities, Fernandez said that she’s been working a lot with Nandin, who coaches the middle infield. They’ve worked on her progressions when approaching different ground balls, tennis ball drills and Fungo drills to improve her hands, as well timed double-play drills to emphasize the importance of speed when trying to get two outs on balls up the middle.While most of the drills are things she has seen before either in high school or with her travel team, Fernandez’s work with spinning up the middle to get to ground balls or drills with balls hit on a short hop have been new. “She probably won’t have any problem with (the transition),” Nandin said. “She’s just a player, a competitor. Once she steps on that field for the regular season, she’s going to have that adrenaline going through her and she’ll be fine.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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