At just 167 pounds, WSU was the only Division I school to extend Ian Sagdal a scholarship offer out of Eastmont High School. The freshman shortstop has made the other teams pay for overlooking him. He is hitting .318 and playing solid defense entering this weekend’s series against the USC Trojans. Sagdal has taken advantage of the opportunity to start after sophomore shortstop Trace Tam-Sing suffered an injury just six games into the season.
WSU Assistant Coach Spencer Allen said the coaching staff has been impressed with the freshman’s performance.
“If you ask him he probably doesn’t think he has been doing all that great but we are excited with his start and how he is helping his team win some games,” Allen said.
Sagdal’s hitting coach said the high personal standards Sagdal has set have allowed him to go to head-to-head with some of the best players in the country.
“Ian has unbelievable confidence in himself and expects to be great so that’s where it starts with him,” Allen said. “He started off rough with the pace of the game but he has worked unbelievably hard to get to this point.”
Sagdal said his immediate success is the product of offseason hitting adjustments recommended to him by the WSU coaching staff when he was still in high school.
“When I was in high school my stance was lower with my legs. They told me to stand up a little bit more and be more upright,” Sagdal said. “Sure enough, the first time I did that in summer ball I hit a home run the first pitch of the game.”
The WSU coaching staff never doubted his ability to hit. While major programs overlooked Sagdal because of his size, Marbut and Allen saw something they liked.
“He has always been able to put the bat on the ball and he has continually gotten better in the field,” Allen said. “The biggest thing we saw with his bat potential is that he always made contact.”
Even after making adjustments, the transition to playing at the Division I level has not been easy. Staying mentally sharp has been just as hard as physically competing against talented athletes.
“The pace is a lot quicker I’ve noticed. They warned me about that a lot during the fall and it’s really true,” Sagdal said. “The game really picks up. You have to think twice as fast as high school.”
Easing Sagdal’s transition has been a player the 19-year-old freshman threatens to replace.
“Trace (Tam-Sing) has really helped me out as far as pointers at shortstop,” Sagdal said. “He’s really helped me through the process, and he really helped me out during the fall.”
Despite the good-natured rivalry, both players remain supportive of each other’s career. Tam-Sing was supposed to lead the WSU defense headed into the 2012 season. With Tam-Sing slated to come back from an injury shortly, the two could potentially share playing time. Sagdal has no problem sharing the spotlight though.
“We hope for the best for each other,” he said. “If he is playing one day and I’m not I really hope he does the best.”