Melvin Rodriguez | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Melvin Rodriguez

Melvin Rodriguez.

Melvin Rodriguez.

Jackson State University started the SWAC Baseball Tournament with a 5-10 loss to Southern University on Wednesday, May 13. If the Tigers are going to keep their season alive and have hopes of a regional berth, they will need the SWAC Player of the Year and Co-Hitter of the Year, Melvin Rodriguez, to have some big games for the rest of the tournament.

JSU is looking to win its third straight SWAC baseball title but must do so from the losers' bracket today against Prairie View A&M. Rodriguez is a big reason why the Tigers are 30-24 overall and 15-9 in SWAC play.

The senior from Manati, Puerto Rico, leads the nation in hits with 94 and is second in the nation in batting averages with a .435. He also has 21 doubles, three triples and seven homeruns.

Rodriguez is also pretty good from the field as well. The 5-foot-10-inch, 200-pound second baseman has a .963 fielding percentage, which means that not only can he hit; he also makes few errors when he is on defense, with 10 this year.

JSU really gets a lot from Rodriguez with runners on base. Rodriguez is third in the country in RBIs with 65.

Rodriguez was preseason All-SWAC First Team and has lived up to the hype. He finished the season as All-SWAC First Team at second base.

The honors keep pouring in for Rodriguez, who is also a finalist for the Ferriss Trophy. The other finalists are Wes Rea (Mississippi State University), Scott Weathersby (University of Mississippi), Keith Shumaker (Millsaps College) and James McMahon (University of Southern Mississippi).

Rodriguez is a do-it-all player for Jackson State. He is second on the team in slugging percentage with .657; second in on-base percentage at .492; first in runs scored with 59; third in walks with 31; and second in stolen bases with 12 out of 13 attempts.

In 216 at-bats, Rodriguez struck out just 14 times all season and grounded out into just one double play all season. He also has appeared in every game this season, proving how durable he is over the long baseball grind.

Rodriguez wasn't the only JSU players to be honored by the SWAC, however. Tigers freshman third baseman Jesus Santana was named Freshman of the Year and First Team All-SWAC, as well as catcher Jovany Felipe and designated hitter Sam Campbell. Outfielder Lamar Briggs was named Second Team All-SWAC.

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