Papi named All-American
BY STEVE BENNETT
At the beginning of the season, Mike Papi found himself as a role player waiting to make an impact with the University of Virginia baseball team.
By the time the season ended, he developed into one of the Cavaliers’ top hitters and an All-American.
The Tunkhannock Area graduate wrapped up his sophomore season with the Cavaliers and was named a first-team All-American by Baseball America on Wednesday.
“It’s an honor. It’s great to have this and be able to put it on my resume,” Papi said. “The most important thing for me is to move forward and not look back on it and think of it so much as a ‘me’ thing. I have to make myself better and help the overall team next year.”
Virginia (50-12) saw its season come to an end Monday in the NCAA Super Regional with a 6-5 loss to Mississippi State. The loss left the Cavaliers two wins shy of reaching the College World Series.
“Expectations were high for our team. Some people said we were not going to do well that it was a rebuilding year,” the outfielder said. “To be able to play in my first NCAA postseason was a great experience in itself. Being able to make a run as a team made it better. Getting to Omaha and winning it is the goal.”
Papi played in 57 games this season and made 47 starts. His .381 batting average led the Cavaliers. He hit seven home runs and had 57 RBIs. His batting average was 28th in the country and his on-base percentage of .517 was second nationally.
“Coming off the bench early in the season, I was just waiting for my opportunity,” Papi said. “My coaches kept telling me they were going to give me the opportunity to get in there. When I did I just tried to take advantage of it. From there it just kept rolling.”
Papi has also been named a second team All-American by Perfect Game for his performance this past season.
Papi is one of 32 players invited to Cary, N.C., to try out for Team USA’s Collegiate National Team. If Papi does not make the team he will head to Wisconsin where he will play for the Lakeshore Chinooks in the Northwoods League.
Papi said he was selected to be a part of the tryout process by collegiate coaches at the Division I level, and will take part in a 10-day tryout from June 20-29.
“It’s a huge honor,” Papi said. “Both myself and teammate Nate Irving were selected. We’re both excited to go down there.”
Papi said it would be great to make the national team, but is excited either way to get to play baseball during the summer months.
“Either way I’ll be playing, and that’s great,” Papi said.
In the meantime, Papi is enjoying some time off in Tunkhannock visiting family and friends.
“It’s nice to get to come home and visit family and friends,” Papi said. “It gives me a little time to rest and think about other things.”
However, Papi looks forward to getting back on the diamond.
“I’m always trying to get better,” Papi said. “I’ll work on some things and keep sharp through the summer.”
He said playing for the national team will be more like a tour, spending several days in Japan, followed by various spots throughout the United States.
With the Lakeshore team, it will be more of a regular baseball season.
The Chinooks will have a 72-game summer season traveling to various states to play each day.
For more information on the Collegiate National team visit, www.usabaseball.com and for more information on the Chinooks visit, www.lakeshorechinooks.com.
Staff writer Kevin Woodruff contributed to this report.