Baseball: Tobin Swope
February 14, 2003
Senior shortstop Tobin Swope hasn't had many chances at Stanford, although you would never hear him complain about it. The average person might have done plenty of complaining if they had been in Swope's shoes the last three seasons, but the characteristic doesn't seem to show up anywhere in his makeup.
'It's really hard to complain with all the winning we've done and all that I've experienced ... going to the College World Series, playing twice in the national championship game,' said Swope.
Still, Swope has watched most of the action from the Cardinal dugout. In his first two years, he had just nine at bats. He did see action in 31 games but all of them were off the bench, primarily as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement.
'I learned a lot about working hard,' emphasized Swope about his time on the bench. 'Players like Chris O'Riordan and Scott Dragicevich were some of the hardest working guys I've ever seen play baseball. I just tried to get better every day. Obviously, you want to play, but it's a team game and you have to realize what your role is.'
Last year, Swope's role started to change as he began to push for a starting job. After suiting up for 157 games without seeing his name in the starting lineup, he was finally rewarded with his first collegiate start versus Texas on March 29, 2002.
But, a little more than a week later and after a career-high five-hit game at Arizona, Swope broke a finger and when he returned was relegated to a backup role for most of the remainder of the season.
'It was good to get in the lineup, but it (breaking the finger) wasn't really as bad for me as it may have seemed,' said a gracious Swope. 'I was glad to see Scott Dragicevich get back in the lineup and have a terrific year after I was hurt.'
Swope was also impressive in limited action last season as he hit .405 in 27 games and six starts, numbers that helped improve his status to full-time starter this year.
Now, it's Tobin's turn, and he plans to make the most of it.
'This is my one year to show that I can play but trying to get back to Omaha is still our number one goal,' explains Swope. 'The individual stuff is nice and it will come if the team wins.'
Early in the season, Swope is doing his part by leading the team with a .389 batting average and 14 hits through the first eight games. Swope hit .562 (9-for-16) in Stanford's recent series versus Florida State and was nominated for Pac-10 Player of the Week honors.
Swope's success early this year may come as a surprise to casual observers of Stanford Baseball but not to himself.
'I expected to hit for a high average,' said Swope, who has hit well over .300 as a full-time starter the last two summers for the Hawaii Island-Movers and the Mat-Su Miners, respectively. 'Over the last two summers, I was able to build my confidence that I could play at this level.'
Swope has also impressed Stanford head coach Mark Marquess.
'Tobin Swope has been an ultimate team player with a great attitude, but it's hard because everybody wants to play,' said Marquess. 'It takes a special person to still contribute, and he's done that for three years. He improved even though he didn't get a lot of game experience. He didn't get down and continued to work hard in practice.'
'Now, his role is different,' continued Marquess. 'But he's no different than when he wasn't playing. He didn't feel sorry for himself then, and I'm just pleased he's getting a chance to play now and taking advantage of it.'
by Kyle McRae
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