MacPhee, ASU hoping to follow up great weekend with another

(2.26) Baseball
SOFT HANDS: Freshman shortstop Deven Marrero fields a chopper during a Sun Devil victory over Northern Illinois last weekend. ASU will face Towson for a four-game set this weekend at Packard Stadium. (Photo by Scott Stuk)
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Friday, February 26, 2010
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He pounded balls into the gap, launched one over the fence, stole bases and scored heaps of runs.

It was all in a weekend’s work for ASU sophomore second baseman Zack MacPhee.

For his boisterous season-opening performance, a three-game sweep for the No. 2 Sun Devils (3-0) over Northern Illinois, MacPhee earned three “player of the week” honors, including two from national publications.

So what did the infielder think of all the accolades?

“The awards are nice,” MacPhee said. “But to be honest, I didn’t even know they existed before yesterday.”

While it might sound like a line out of the “Bull Durham” school of baseball clichés, MacPhee has been a bit too busy to focus on awards.

This offseason, MacPhee set out to do something few ballplayers at his stage would try to take on: He learned how to switch-hit.

In all his years around baseball, ASU coach Tim Esmay said he’s rarely seen a player delve into the undertaking MacPhee did this offseason.

“He didn’t switch hit at all last year, so to make that adjustment at this level is amazing,” Esmay said.

While MacPhee was happy with the results of his first three games, he said it is far too early to get wrapped up in numbers.

“It’s good to start the season out that way,” MacPhee said. “It feels good, but it’s over now and we have to look forward to this weekend and Towson.”

Feels like the first time

This weekend will mark the first time ASU and Towson, a university of about 21,000 students near Baltimore, have met on the diamond.

The Tigers (1-2), who play in the Colonial Athletic Association, haven’t had much practice outdoors yet, as a brutal winter in Maryland hasn’t allowed for a wealth of outdoor activities.

On the mound, Towson is led by sophomore pitcher Tyler Austin, who won CAA co-Pitcher of the Week honors for his six shutout innings of work in a win over North Carolina A&T last week.

Austin, who allowed just four hits in the game, is scheduled to start the second tilt of the series.

For ASU, senior Josh Spence is likely to sit out the season’s second series due to arm soreness.

The Sun Devils are expected to trot out the same rotation as last week, which features junior Seth Blair pitching Friday, juniors Merrill Kelly and Jake Borup starting Saturday’s games and junior Jimmy Patterson closing the series out on Sunday.

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