TAMPA, Fla. – Drew Ehrhard knows that putting in hours of practice is the key to success.
The University of Tampa Spartans second baseman credits a number of mentors, most of all his father, Rodney, himself a former pro in the New York Yankees’ organization.
“He’s been the person I’ve looked up to since day one,” said Drew, prior to practice at the school’s downtown facility. “Obviously, some pro guys would be Derek Jeter, those kinds of guys, but he’s definitely been the number one ever since the very first day.”
Rodney also played baseball for the Spartans and was even inducted into their baseball Hall of Fame in 2016, a moment Drew said was very memorable for the family.
“It was truly special. It was something that I know he busted his hump when he was here and it’s just something that I hope to aspire one day to be too,” Drew said.
He hopes to carry on the family legacy at the university.
Born and raised in Tampa, Ehrhard attended the nearby Wharton High School where Boggs, the former Big-League star, was an assistant coach. The younger Ehrhard was able to discuss the game with a Hall of Famer.
“His huge thing was fielding. He takes pride in knowing the situations on defence,” Ehrhard said of Boggs. “And hitting, he’s a big guy, if you come to him, he’ll definitely talk about it.”
“He could talk about hitting for days upon days, but yeah, he helped in just about every aspect of the field.”
With mentors around him of that calibre, the infielder was able to translate his high school success into a strong freshman year at Tampa. He batted .344 while playing in all 53 games and took home the Rawlings Gold Glove as the best defensive second baseman in Division II baseball.
Now almost 20 games into his sophomore campaign, Ehrhard wants to build off last year and improve his capabilities as a team leader. Something his coach Joe Urso strongly believes he will be able to achieve.
“His leadership role becomes very important to me in his second year,” Urso said. “This is a kid that his dad is in the Hall of Fame at the University of Tampa, so he knows what Tampa baseball is about and the pride and the tradition that goes into this program.”
“I expect him to be a leader on the team again and now as a sophomore his voice will be heard more.”
For Ehrhard, being a Spartan is more than baseball. It’s honouring a family legacy.
“It’s just kind of a tradition thing,” said Ehrhard. “I mean I grew up coming to all these games and it’s just something that I love to do and a place I love to be.”