February 25, 2005
Before Adam Sorgi digs in at the plate, he takes a quick look at the words he has written on his wrist tape.
'I usually put the word `relax' on there, along with my favorite song and some sort of hitting tip,' explained Sorgi.
But it really didn't really seem to be working as Stanford's new starter at third base found himself opening the season with just four hits in his first 22 at bats for a .182 batting average through the team's first seven games.
That's when teammate Jim Rapoport made a suggestion.
'Why don't you just put her name on there,' Rapoport told Sorgi.
'Her' is Adam's inspirational sister, Tori.
Tori is afflicted with down syndrome but that hasn't stopped the 18-year-old from being her older brother's biggest fan. Due to her affliction, Adam's relationship with Tori is mostly affection-based. He believes she understands a lot of conversation, but it's difficult for her to be able to communicate back with words.
'She doesn't have to say anything at all,' emphasized Sorgi. 'Tori gives as much as anyone in the world can give without using words. She just has to smile, and she can make you feel so much better.'
'No matter how well or how poorly I do, I know that she's proud of me,' he continued with moist eyes and a passionate voice. 'She gives me so much strength, so much confidence and so much love. Everything that I could need she gives, and that fuels me every single time I step onto the baseball field.'
Adam has been on a tear since writing Tori's name on his wrist tape, going 11-for-22 (.500) with four multiple-hit games in the five contests since and raising his batting average to a season-high .341.
But Tori is not Adam's only source of inspiration.
He also has tremendous support from his entire family. His parents, Edward and Anne, make the trip from Mission Viejo in Orange County to see the majority of his games. His older sister, Erica, is a senior at Stanford and also a regular fixture at Sunken Diamond as well as many Cardinal road trips.
'It means so much to look up in the stands and see them there,' says Sorgi. 'I'm really blessed to have a family that's so supportive of me.'
Adam also has more support, and a little instruction, from another source.
One day early in his high school career, he was taking a few extra cuts with his dad at Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo when he ran into Jose Tolentino. Having just finished a long professional baseball career that was spent mostly in the Minor Leagues with just a cup of coffee in 'The Show', Tolentino was trying his hand at coaching and impressed with Sorgi's swing.
The two clicked and Tolentino has been a hitting coach for Sorgi ever since. They still talk over the phone most Fridays before the start of a series.
'As long as I'm hitting well, the (Stanford) coaches are okay with it,' smiled Sorgi. 'But a lot of it is really the same instruction I get from our staff. They are both trying to get me to do pretty much the same things.'
After a difficult first season at Stanford for the highly-touted Sorgi and a 2004 summer campaign in the Cape Cod Baseball League that was cut short to rehabilitate a shoulder injury, it all seems to be coming together for Sorgi this year.
'It was a situation where I wasn't getting the opportunity to play every day, and I decided that I should do everything I could to get completely healthy and ready for Stanford Baseball this season,' said Sorgi on his decision to return home before the end of last summer's Cape Cod schedule. 'Instead of playing once every three or four days, I just wanted to train at home and be ready for this year.'
Sorgi worked on strengthening his shoulder and gaining weight after returning home from the Cape last summer while continuing his hitting workouts with Tolentino. When he came back to The Farm last fall, he was eager to assume a full-time starting role with the Cardinal after having his name etched into the lineup card only occasionally during his freshman season.
With three starters returning in the Cardinal infield, the lifelong shortstop would have to achieve this goal by winning the team's only open infield spot at third base. Sorgi recalls playing only about two innings at the position his entire life before being pushed into some duty there when 2004 starter Jonny Ash was injured last May.
Sorgi achieved his goal with impressive preseason performances and his move to the hot corner gives the Cardinal three players that came into Stanford as shortstops patrolling the team's infield. Stanford has a .979 team fielding percentage through the first 12 games that ranks a couple of percentage points above the school's all-time record of .977 established by the 2001 club. In fact, just two of Stanford's nine errors this season have been made in the infield, ironically both by Sorgi.
Maybe he should write 'Tori' on his glove ... it seems to have helped before.
by Kyle McRae