Providence’s Travis the area’s bestSam Travis of Providence Catholic at third April 9th, 2011 in Crestwood l Gary Middendorf~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 8, 2011 7:35PM
Top-ranked Providence is an unfamiliar position, which is to say losing. It’s a junior varsity game against Lockport, mind you. Yet Sam Travis, the Celtics’ three-year starting third baseman, is pestering coach Mark Smith for an at-bat. He wants to test out his left-handed swing, one which he honed playing softball in gym class because he didn’t want to mess up his pure right-handed stroke.
“The first two swings were terrible,” Travis said. “Then I fouled one off.”
Travis works the count to 2-2 before he unleashes a shot through the teeth of the wind and over the right-field fence in his only left-handed at-bat.
“I was just standing in the dugout in utter amazement,” said Smith. “He seems to amaze you with the things he does every day.”
For his stellar abilities at the plate, Travis is the Sun-Times Player of the Year.
From the right side of the plate, Travis has dropped his share of bombs, and jaws, with his compact, explosive swing. In fact, the 6-foot, 180-pound Indiana University recruit has produced one of the more statistically-impressive offensive seasons in recent memory despite hitting in miserable weather conditions for most of the year.
Heading into the Class 4A state semifinals, Travis is hitting .504 with 15 home runs, 16 doubles and 72 RBI in 39 games. He’s tallied 65 hits, 50 runs, three triples and a 1.023 slugging percentage. Perhaps his most impressive statistic – and the reason he’s driven in 72 in 129 at-bats – is his .542 batting average with runners in scoring position.
“It always helps when you have guys around you who get on base,” said Travis, who was selected in the 40th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Reds. “I just try to feed off the guys and do I what I can do. I guess as far as the numbers are concerned, I couldn’t ask for more. Guys are getting on base and giving me opportunities to drive them in.”
Travis opened the season nine for his first nine with three homers, four doubles and 11 RBI. And despite playing against arguably the toughest schedule in the state, he hasn’t slowed down.
“I knew he was capable of great things,” said Smith. “But if you look the numbers, 72 RBI in 39 games, it’s hard to put into words the type of season he’s had. Everyone knew he could hit, but this is remarkable.”