TAMPA, Fla. – Drew Ehrhard takes great pride in playing in front of his family, and for his hometown team.
The University of Tampa Spartans second baseman grew up playing for the Wildcats at Wharton High School, and graduated in 2017.
He posted a four-year batting average of .380, and capped off his high school career by winning the Tony Saladino Award, presented to the top senior player in Hillsborough County.
Despite being a native of Tampa, the move from high school to college is a big step for anyone, especially for a student athlete.
“Everyone has told me it’s going to be a big transition, and they weren’t wrong,” said Ehrhard minutes before pre-game warmup on Wednesday. “Getting through the first semester was big with the help of my teammates, coaches and staff that’s been helping, the nerves have started to fade.”
Tampa Spartans head coach, Joe Urso, believes Ehrhard’s leadership qualities will be vital to him during his freshman campaign.
“He is a kid who has very high expectations for himself and he’s really tough on himself any time he fails,” Urso said. “This is a game of failure, and especially for a freshman. He is going to need to learn to relax through some of the tough times.
“He is off to a great start, but as the season goes on the freshmen will wear down a little bit and maybe go through some adversity and we will see how he responds to that.”
Ehrhard looked to his father and UT alumni, Rodney, for guidance and inspiration. Rodney was inducted into the UT Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016, putting some pressure on his son to perform.
“There is a little bit there,” Ehrhard said referring to the bar set by his father. “I’m just going to try and go do me, and make my own name. Do what I can do.”
The Ehrhard family has a great deal of pride in Rodney’s induction, and it is something that the current Spartans rookie feels very thankful for.
“Ever since day one it’s been baseball, that’s what we’ve all been passionate about,” Ehrhard said, reflecting on his upbringing. “Just seeing my dad’s work ethic, my own work ethic, and my younger brother’s work ethic be recognized by other people means a lot to us.”
Ehrhard considers his father, who played in the New York Yankees’ organization, to be a great role model, and someone that has helped him throughout his young baseball career.
“He’s been through all the same stuff. He is someone who has been there for me since day one and knows me better than just about anybody. I would say he influences me the most,” Ehrhard said.
While his father has helped him hone his baseball talents, the freshman second baseman feels the game itself is helping him become a better leader on and off the field.
“This is where I really feel my leadership is shown the most. I can take these skills into the real world,” Ehrhard said.