If Marques Inman’s baseball career continues on the trajectory it’s been on at Elyria, the possibilities are endless in college.
The Pioneers’ standout power hitter and first baseman orally committed to continue his playing career at the Division I level with West Virginia on Saturday.
The Mountaineers’ commitment to build a new baseball stadium — which according to the school’s website is projected to be complete by spring 2015 — the academic programs and the potential for Inman to start at first base his freshman season were all reasons he chose West Virginia over other Division I schools like Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio University.
“Everything just seemed like it was a perfect fit for me,” said Inman, who thanked his parents and both his high school coach — Ed Piazza — and travel coach Neall French in helping him achieve the scholarship. “I’m definitely glad the process is behind me so I can just focus on playing the game and having fun.”
Inman has evolved into one of Elyria’s top players, and even joined the rotation late in his junior year. In his second start, the three-year letterwinner pitched a one-hit, two-walk shutout in the Pioneers’ 3-0 victory over Lakewood in the sectional final.
But the fact that Inman came into a new situation and succeeded right away shouldn’t surprise anyone because that’s exactly what he did his freshman year in 2012. Despite joining the varsity team halfway through the season, he led the team in RBIs with 21 and hit .375.
He experienced a slight sophomore slump, dropping to .300 with six doubles and 16 RBIs. Defensively he led the team in errors with 17, playing primarily at first base.
But Inman used his sophomore struggles as an opportunity to grow and during the offseason he took his game to higher levels. He used the offseason to practice staying back on the baseball and not trying to pull off-speed pitches. He also relentlessly worked on his defense, staying down on the baseball and using his chest to block it if necessary.
“Marques, now that he’s worked really hard, is a five-tool player,” Piazza said. “He has a strong arm. He hits for power. But the biggest thing is his work ethic. He decided baseball was going to be his thing after freshmen year and he worked hard at it. He’s a great kid and his leadership really helps in the weight room. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around.”
The result was a fantastic junior season. He hit .443 with three home runs and 32 RBIs — both power figures either held or tied for the team lead — along with 13 doubles. And defensively, he cut his errors down to three.
Inman said he is going to continue to work on his defense. Academically, he plans to pursue an engineering degree in either the mechanical or aviation fields at West Virginia.
“He sees Division I pitchers, the five teams in our conference all have a Division I starter,” Piazza said. “As long as he stays with that approach and keeps going to the right side, it’s going to be a good adjustment. With Texas and all of the tough teams in the Big 12, I think that’s one big advantage that he’s going to have.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.