NEWARK, Del. – “Dad, can I get some extra swings in tonight?”
It’s a phrase that Joseph Carpenter said to his dad, Arty, too many times to count growing up in Cornwall, Pa.
Carpenter has been playing baseball since he was old enough to pick up a bat. He’s a baseball junkie. That love for the game has brought him to the University of Delaware, where he is one of just four Blue Hens to start every game this year.
The transition to the college game required some adjustments and some moments where he had to rely on all those swings he had taken growing up with his dad.
“The game is faster, the pitchers are better, everything at this level just requires you to be better and it definitely took me longer than I would have liked to adjust,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter and the Blue Hens both had tough starts to the season.
Through the first 13 games of the season, the first baseman found himself struggling to adapt, hitting .171 with no extra-base hits and 15 strikeouts in 41 at-bats.
“I really struggled with pitch recognition early on and it was frustrating,” Carpenter said. “You come into college and just like everyone else, you go from being one of the better players in your team to facing those types of players every time you step on the field.”
On Sunday, March 10, Delaware found itself looking for the first win of the year against Fairfield. A 2-for-4 day at the plate and an RBI single in the eighth from Carpenter helped secure a 7-4 home win and helped turn the tide.
“I made some small adjustments and really listened to what some of the older guys were telling me, how to see pitches better, making small adjustments every time to the plate and hitting is something contagious, once you get going, your confidence continues to grow with each at-bat,” Carpenter said.
Those adjustments have been on display for the past six weeks, building his confidence to become the Blue Hens’ clean-up hitter for the past month.
Over the past 26 games, Carpenter is hitting .343 (35-for-102) with 14 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs, 19 runs scored and an on-base percentage of .412. His OPS over that stretch sits at .990.
Entering this week’s games, he has reached base safely in 31-consecutive games and has an active 18-game hitting streak, the second-longest in program history by a freshman.
“We knew he was a really talented kid coming in and with most guys making the adjustment to this level, it takes some time,” head coach Jim Sherman said. “Confidence is one of those things that really helps young guys and he’s started to see the ball better, recognize pitches sooner, just feel more comfortable at the plate. We’re excited for his future with us.”
For Carpenter, it all started with those extra swings with his dad.
“This game can be such a mental grind and sometimes you just have to go back to what you’ve been doing ever since you were a little kid,” he said.