UHV 2nd baseman up to 190 hits in fourth season
April 6, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated April 5, 2014 at 11:06 p.m.
Ryan Suescun came to UHV because of his glove. He'll be remembered for his bat.
Suescun has become the Jaguars' all-time hit leader with 190, and the irony is not lost on UHV head coach Terry Puhl.
Suescun made an impression with his defense at a UHV tryout after his senior season at Cypress-Fairbanks.
But Puhl wasn't sure Suescun would be able to hit on the collegiate level when he became a member of UHV's inaugural freshman class.
"When he first started, the weakest part was his swing," Puhl said. "I thought, 'I don't know if he can make it, but he sure can handle that glove nice.' He made some unbelievable plays when he first started. He's really been a very steady hitter against both left-handers and right-handers."
Suescun was surprised with how quickly he improved at the plate.
He had 53 hits as a freshman and took over as a starter at second base.
He has been a consistent presence in the lineup during his four years and surpassed David Baker's previous record of 174 hits earlier this season.
"No, I never thought I would do that," Suescun said. "It's a big accomplishment for me. I didn't have any idea I was that good. Coach Puhl helped me a lot."
Puhl worked with Suescun on his swing. He also got him to adjust his temperament, which was interfering with his performance.
"He's matured," Puhl said. "When he was first here, it was almost like I would classify him as a brat. He and I used to go toe to toe. He would say a few things to the umpires out there. He had a very sharp tongue. If you look at Ryan now compared to back then, it's like two different people."
Suescun, who hits left-handed, credits Puhl for his ability to hit left-handed pitching.
But much of Suescun's improvement at the plate came through hard work and self-motivation.
"You've got to keep working hard every day," he said. "It's not given to you. You've got to keep practicing, hit on your own time and lift weights."
Suescun's willingness to put in extra work has paid off during his senior season.
He went 2 for 5 in the Jaguars' 7-5 win over St. Edward's on Wednesday and leads the team in hits (51), average (.381), RBIs (23) and stolen bases (14).
Suescun's offensive production hasn't affected his defense. He has a .973 fielding percentage.
"That's the beauty of being a coach is that you watch these guys now that we start with as freshmen and see them as seniors, and they're really nice young men," Puhl said. "I think a lot of it is the maturity of showing up on time and being part of the program and getting the work done."
Suescun is on track to graduate in December with a degree in business finance.
He's unsure of his plans for the future but thankful for the last four years.
"I wanted to keep playing," Suescun said. "This was one of the only schools that offered me, and I wanted to stay close to home, and this was a good opportunity.
"It's pretty crazy," he added. "I don't know if I'll keep playing or not. It's pretty scary for it to come to an end if it does. I'm glad I got to play college ball and break records."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588, by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on this column at advosports.com