It is traditionally rare for a freshman to come in and get regular playing time with a college team. It is even rarer for that freshman to contribute on a regular basis. Yet, Steve Grober has done just that for the Seton Hall baseball team.
As it sits now, Grober is fourth on the team in batting average to go along with two home runs and 19 runs batted in, both good for third on the team.
After settling in at the plate, Grober has simplified his approach in order to get the most out of his plate appearances
“I like to swing early in counts,” Grober said. “I don’t like to think about my statistics and stuff so I just try to see the ball and hit it as hard as I can and put a good swing on it.”
Determined to earn his playing time from head coach Rob Sheppard, Grober came to South Orange with the intention to make an instant impact.
“I think Steve came here with the impression that he had the ability to have an impact right away and he has done that,” Sheppard said. “The more at-bats you get, especially when you’re coming from high school to college, just the speed of the game is something that you have to adjust to and once he had the ability to make that adjustment he’s been really, really good.”
However, it has not just been Grober’s success at the plate that has opened eyes early on in his career. In 110 chances in the field, Grober has only recorded one error at shortstop so far this season. Much like his approach at the plate, Grober preaches simplicity.
“For me, it’s the same thing as hitting. I don’t like to think a whole lot I want to keep it simple,” Grober said. “[Volunteer Assistant Coach Tyler] Smarslok does a great job helping me out. I use a lot of the training gloves, the nine-inch gloves; he always provides them. He does a great job with me to just count the hops and throw it over to first. Keep it simple.”
Having a solid shortstop like Grober has helped to raise the team’s fielding percentage 16 points from last season.
“He’s been great all year long and has done a really nice job on both sides of the ball. He has really been a valuable part of the success we’ve had so far,” Sheppard said.
A Hillsborough, N.J. native, Grober was impressed by Seton Hall’s facilities and commitment to furthering his education.
“When I was coming on my visit to Seton Hall, the facilities compared to everywhere else were top notch like seeing the refueling station and the study hall,” Grober said. “Schooling is a big part of my beliefs. I like to take school seriously, so the study hall was important to me.”
Like any ballplayer, Grober knows slumps will come it go, but he also knows the importance of keeping a level head.
“Baseball is a game of failure so when you’re doing good it’s all fun but if things don’t start going your way it’s important to keep it fun and keep a good mindset,” Grober said.
Currently, in the midst of a solid freshman campaign, Grober knows one thing for sure.
“It’s fun right now.”
Nick Santoriello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NickSantoriello.