Shane Lewis blasting his way through the Troy record books

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, May 9, 2023

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Troy sophomore Shane Lewis is one home run away from becoming the school’s single season Home Run King.

In his first season at Troy, Lewis is second in the entire country in home runs and has tied Jorge Soto’s 1999 school record of 26 home runs in a season. This past weekend, Lewis hit three homers in Troy’s series win over Georgia Southern and he’s hit at least one home run in five of the last six contests and blasted 13 home runs since April 1.

“We knew Shane was a dynamic talent,” Troy Coach Skylar Meade said. “There was a reason there was a buzz about him when he left Mississippi State and went to Chipola, but with that said, I don’t think anyone in the world saw this coming. I think that would be fair to say.

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“We knew he could be a steady player for us and keep the proper mindset because the talent is elite. He’s blessed with wrist strength and a flick not many people have seen. He’s just been really steady and taken it all in stride and none of it has gone to his head.”

Along with his eye-popping home run numbers, Lewis leads the conference with 74 RBIs and 59 runs. His .860 slugging percentage is also tops in the Sun Belt.

Shane Lewis (2) celebrates a home run. (Photo courtesy of Troy University Athletics)

Lewis’ feats at the plate are even more impressive when taken into account the context of the era of college baseball that he’s playing in. In 2011, the NCAA adopted “bat-ball coefficient of restitution” (BBCOR) standard for bats, which was an effort to bring non-wood baseball bats closer to performance with wood bats. In the history of Division I baseball, only 21 batters have ever hit more than 30 home runs in a season. Of those 21, just two have done so since 2011, the beginning of the BBCOR era. In 2013, San Diego’s Kris Bryant hit 31 home runs and in 2022, Texas’ Ivan Melendez hit 32 homers. With seven games remaining in the regular season, Lewis has a chance to surpass those numbers.

Success at the plate isn’t new for the Vicksburg, Miss., native, however. After earning all-state honors at his high school, Lewis started his college career at MSU before transferring to Chipola College in 2020. At Chipola, he earned All-State honors and led all of junior college baseball in homers and RBIs for half of the season, ending the year with 15 dingers.

“Me and Coach (Ben) Wolgamot had a phone call one morning when I was at Chipola and I could really tell what they had going on here was really special,” Lewis recalled. “With just how much they care about their players and how much academics matter with this coaching staff meant a lot.

“There’s a really good group of kids here. At the end of the day, a good group of kids will have a lot more success than a group full of bad kids.”

It was Lewis’ visit to Troy that sealed the deal and the decision to transfer to Troy is one Lewis says he definitely doesn’t regret.

“After I took my visit and watched them play Kennesaw State and come back to beat them – after Clay Stearns caught that foul tip to the end game – I knew that this place was exactly where I wanted to be,” he remembered. “I can honestly say coming to Troy, in hindsight, has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

While his success has been plentiful this season, Lewis said it didn’t come for him straight away.

“I will say I did have kind of a rough fall, the power wasn’t really there for me,” he said. “I was kind of struggling a little and I struggled in the preseason and in January a little, too.

“I sat down and talked with my coaches and they told me to just stay simple in everything that I do. I get myself in trouble when I start overdoing things and get out of character and play like someone else and not myself. I sat down and told myself that this whole season I was just going to play loose and relaxed and stay really simple. I guess you could say it’s paid off.”

Lewis is one home run away from breaking Jorge Soto’s 1999 record. (Photo courtesy of Troy University Athletics)

Lewis hasn’t just been solid at the plate this season, either. He boasts a .945 fielding percentage with 65 put outs and four assists on defense, too.

“He’s just been really, really steady and taken it all in stride,” Meade said of Lewis’ success. “None of it has gone to his head and his approach has been incredibly simple. He’s not just going out there and trying to hit home runs. He’s just one of those people that when he barrels into the air it always has a chance to go.”

As the home runs and RBIs have piled up, so have the walks. After hitting two homers against Georgia Southern last Saturday, he was walked three straight times and has been walked a team-high 38 times on the season. That hasn’t fazed the power hitter, though.

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Meade said of Lewis getting walked. “He’s had a solid amount of walks anyway and our guys understand what team baseball is. So, if someone like Shane is going to get walked that’s just more chaos for the other team and more base-running opportunities and more runs for us.

“I’ve been really impressed with our guys through 49 games. We don’t do anything selfish and that to me is a huge part of our identity and what we anted to create here.”

Lewis echoed his coach’s view on team baseball.

“I know I’m one (home run) away from breaking the record but I go into every game not trying to play each game for my own success,” Lewis emphasized. “We have this thing called, ‘quality at-bats.’ And every time I step into the box I just want to have a quality at-bat, so we can get on base and we can get more runs. When you score runs and you don’t let the other team score, you win games and that’s what I’m focused on.”

As Lewis crept closer and closer to the home run record he was fully aware of it but says it’s not something that weighs on his mind much.

“I had people come up to me and tell me what the record was and everything but I didn’t want it to affect the way we play because I don’t want to play selfish baseball,” he said. “I’m not worried about my own personal accolades. I just want to stay simple and do whatever helps the team and helps us win.

“It would be great to break the record but I know that if I don’t, and my team keeps winning, then I’m not going to be mad or sad about that. If I do break it then that’s great but in my eyes I see our team success and achievements as a higher priority.”

Lewis, Meade and the Trojans have their hands full tonight as the Troy travels to Montgomery to face off against the SEC’s Alabama Crimson Tide at Riverwalk Stadium at 6 p.m.