In December of 2013, Temple University announced it’s plan to cut seven intercollegiate sports effective July 1, 2014. With the news of his sport being discontinued, now-VCU-senior outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan was forced to make a decision.
“I wasn’t planning on being here, honestly,” Kerrigan said. “I had never heard of VCU until we played them my freshman year.”
Upon learning that his hometown Owls would no longer have a baseball team, the Philadelphia native began sending a series of frantic emails to prospective schools.
“When we found out the program was getting cut, I just started shooting emails out to all the teams we had played,” he said. “I had the same numbers against VCU my second year, came on a visit, and it’s all worked from there.”
Kerrigan is leading the Rams in batting average through the first 20 games of the 2016 season with a staggering mark of .390. He also leads the club in hits, doubles, total bases and slugging percentage.
Kerrigan said he hasn’t done anything special in his preparation to spark this breakout campaign.
“I haven’t done anything different,” he said. “I’ve just kept working with our coaches and we seem to have found something that works. We’re in a good spot, but there’s always room to get better.”
A major factor in Kerrigan’s success at VCU may be his affinity with his new home, which he says felt ‘right from the start.’”
“As soon as I visited, I was like ‘this is for me,’” Kerrigan said. “The city is very similar to Philly. Luckily enough, it’s worked out. We’ve won championships, we have a great team; the coaches are awesome, the field is awesome, I couldn’t be happier.”
Baseball boasts a 13-7 record heading into conference play, early success spurred by Kerrigan and a veteran offense. The Rams have scored 113 runs through 20 games.
Additionally, the young pitching staff has gotten better every week.
Starters freshman Sean Thompson and junior Brooks Vial are tied for the Atlantic 10 conference lead in wins with four apiece. Junior reliever Sam Donko has posted eight saves in 11 appearances.
Kerrigan expressed the utmost confidence in his teammates, but is always looking for ways they can collectively improve.
“I think we definitely need to get better at capitalizing on mistakes and situational hitting,” he said. “I know personally there’s been a few times where I’ve come up with runners in scoring position and just can’t seem to get the job done. It’s just a focus thing. We’re in a good spot, but there’s always room to get better as a team.”
The 2016 Rams will look to defend their 2015 A-10 conference and regional titles, as well as return to the super-regional round of the NCAA tournament.
A subsequent trip to the College World Series would be unprecedented, but this group has all the reason to dream big after last season’s success. Kerrigan however, maintains a humble focus.
“I’m honestly just going about this year trying to play well and enjoy my senior year and have fun,” Kerrigan said. “We do a good job of staying confident; if we’re down, nobody panics. My teammates are a great group of guys and we want to defend our championship.”
Zach Joachim, Contributing Writer