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Devin Hairston sets sights on Omaha
By Jordan Shim-
Heading into a pivotal 2017, junior shortstop Devin Hairston aims to achieve the goal that never left his sight: booking a trip to College World Series in Omaha.
Two years of heartbreaking losses in Super Regionals left the Lexington native bitter. However, it’s not so much about the performance in those losses, but losing the camaraderie that was created with now former teammates.
“To lose in the fashion that we did, it hurts,” Hairston said. “You don’t get to play long with these guys. You build relationships with them. You have fun, and you learn a lot about the game. Then suddenly they are not there. It hurts, but you have to redirect that negative energy, and you start working for next season.”
This year, Hairston is comparing the first six weeks of the season to the last six weeks. Hairston believes that if the team can stay consistently hungry from the start to finish, it would be enough preparation to make it to Omaha.
Having one of the top programs in the country, Louisville experienced significant turnover this past season. Hairston is now expected to be a key player for the Cards. Although, he doesn’t believe that he needs to a key player, but merely a cog in the machine.
“I don’t have to carry the team because we are very deep,” Hairston said. “We have a lot of guys that know how to get the job done. And that’s what it comes down to. I have my job, which is playing defense and getting on base. You get into trouble when you feel you have to lead, so you start trying to do stuff that’s out of your ability. I trust my teammates 100%, so that makes it easier for me to play my game.”Hairston has had his share of great moments as a Cardinal but Regionals during his freshman season ranks as the best.
Hairston has had his share of great moments as a Cardinal but Regionals during his freshman season ranks as the best.
“I was in a slump with my bat for a while,” Hairston said. “Before the press conference, coach McConnell said I was going to have a good Regional. I was confused how could he say something like that because I didn’t get a hit in about 20 games. But I ended up going 4-for-4, and it was exciting to feel I was helping out the team again finally.”
Hairston’s mental toughness comes from coach Dan McConnell no excuse mentality. Aside from McDonnell, Nick Solak left a great impact on Hairston.
“(Solak and I) played a lot of games up the middle together,” Hairston said. “You build strong relationships playing next to somebody on the field. I learned a lot from him because of the way he carried himself on and off the field. His maturity. His preparation. I looked up to him, and that’s what I’m trying to do now for the other guys.”
Louisville begins their season in Clearwater, FL taking on Alabama State, Maryland, and Ball State. The Cards will play in-state rival Eastern Kentucky in the home opener on Feb. 22. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal