Some believe offense is the most important part of baseball.
However, IUP outfielder Hunter Bigler (senior, kinesiology health & sport science), a winner of the Atlantic Region Gold Glove award during his sophomore campaign in 2014, disagrees.
During the 2014 season, Bigler had a perfect fielding percentage while recording 98 outs.
“I really take pride in my defense,” Bigler said. “I run down balls like it’s the last play of my career, and I always want to make that play on defense.”
On offense, Bigler said that he was never one to hit for a high batting average or a lot of power. But he believes his speed allows him to excel in the leadoff role.
One of the main reasons that Bigler chose to pursue his education at IUP was because head coach Jeff Ditch gave him the option of playing more than one position.
“All my life, I was always playing every position,” Bigler said. “When I got [to IUP], I worked hard day in and day out and got the opportunity [to do both].”
In 2015, Bigler had 30 starts in the outfield, as well as 10 appearances on the mound.
Through his first three years with the team, he has batted .220 in 214 at-bats.
He also has a 5-2 pitching record, even though his ERA is 5.46.
Bigler believes it will be a challenge for IUP to earn the No. 1 seed in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference this season.
“We always play Mercyhurst really well, and they’re supposed to be No. 1 in our conference this year,” Bigler said. “Seton Hill has given us problems, but we have a game plan for them.”
Bigler thinks team chemistry has also improved significantly this year.
“In previous years, we had some people that were self-centered,” he said, “but this year we’re finally a team. We need to get off to a good start, and make sure people know that that five spot they put us at is not correct.”