Feature: Baseball's Tobin Swope
April 9, 2002
Tobin Swope is patient, prepared, and positive. After waiting 158 games and almost two and half seasons to make his first start with the Cardinal, Swope hasn't let any opportunity pass him by, and he has become a key contributor to the Cardinal squad in a hurry.
Swope started two of the three games at Arizona last weekend and responded by going 7-for-12 (.583) with two doubles, five RBI and a stolen base. In his second start of the season last Saturday, Swope posted a career-high five hits, going 5-for-5 with a double and three RBI in Stanford's 19-1 shellacking of the Wildcats. Swope started at shortstop again on Sunday and went 2-for-4 with two RBI in a 15-13 Cardinal loss.
For the season, Swope is hitting .500 (12-24) with two doubles, five RBI and a stolen base in three starts and 14 games played.
Swope's patience, preparedness, and positive outlook start long before the first pitch as his pre-game routine reflects his versatility and readiness.
'Before a game, I really like to find the time to relax, whether that is taking a nap, laying down, or just doing whatever I can to clear my mind of everything that is going on,' said the junior infielder. 'There are a lot of distractions with class and other things that go on in our worlds as college baseball players. If I can find the time to just relax and clear everything out and focus on the game before it starts, it really gets me ready to play.'
His readiness is important, as head coach Mark Marquess used Swope as a pinch runner, pinch hitter and defensive replacement for most of the season prior to his recent starting assignment. Swope made his most notable appearance off the bench on March 28 against Texas when he pinch hit for Jason Cooper in the bottom of the ninth inning and hit a leadoff single, starting a rally that culminated in a Chris O'Riordan game-tying grand slam. Swope wasn't done that night, as he laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the game-winning run into scoring position in the bottom of the 10th inning.
'It felt great to be in there and make a difference in the game,' said the Dallas, TX native. 'Against Texas, I was given a chance and was able to make that difference. But, the key thing is just to be ready and when the time came in that game, I was ready to get it done.'
His reward for all of these heroics - his first collegiate start the following day. Swope was only 1-for-4 in the 2-0 loss to Texas but wasted no time making his impact felt later in the week versus Arizona.
'I've just been trying to get better and better every year and every day, so that when I do get a chance to play I can do well,' said Swope. 'It's pretty satisfying to do well when I do get the chance.'
The reason for Swope's limited playing time early in his career has been primarily due to the strong class of infielders above him but for Swope the situation has been more challenging that discouraging.
'I'm just working on getting better in all areas,' said Swope. 'I'm trying to get better defensively at a number of positions, including shortstop, third base, and second base and just anticipating playing anywhere defensively. Also, I am working on getting better on the offensive side of the ball and trying to cut down on the strikeouts and focusing on getting on base.'
Despite the positive prospects for the future, Swope maintains that his focus is on this season and specifically on Pac-10 Conference play.
'Next year, there is no telling what will happen. We have this season to worry about and right now, my focus is on doing what I can to help the team win this year.'
by Amanda Canevaro