White in leading role for Tide

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Kevin Connell

One of Mikey White’s fondest memories growing up was always the annual Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament held in his hometown of Hoover, Ala.

He can still recall the time Alabama faced Auburn in the 2003 tournament, when a 10-minute drive to the stadium took an hour and a half and Alabama came out victorious.

He dreamed that one day he, too, could play on that field for the Crimson Tide in front of his friends and family and beat the rival Tigers.

A little more than 10 years later, that dream has become a reality.

(See also “Bama shortstop Mikey White named SEC Freshman of the Week“)

As a freshman last season, White, playing for Alabama, defeated Auburn 6-3 in the first round of the tournament.

White contributed almost every step of the way for the season, starting all 63 games for Alabama and posting a .287 average and .365 on-base percentage, both good for second-best on the team. He was even named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and Second Team All-SEC for his efforts.

However, Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said achieving his dreams and accomplishing so much in so little time has not changed White one bit.

“I think a lot of it is he’s on a mission to be great, and I really don’t think the accolades mean that much to him,” Gaspard said. “It’s nice that you’re getting them and you’re being recognized, but I think there’s something bigger out there for him, and that’s to be the best player that he can be, and he prepares that way.”

So far in 2014, White has backed up his coach’s praise.

After the opening series of the season last weekend against Saint Louis, White leads the team with a batting average of .400, 3 runs, 4 hits, 1 triple, a slugging percentage of .600 and an on-base percentage of .538. In Game 2 of the series Saturday, he scored the winning run at a play at the plate for Alabama’s first win of the season, which ultimately helped the Crimson Tide take the series, 2-1.

This is just the beginning of what White said he hopes to accomplish this season.

(See also “Alabama baseball claims series vs. Saint Louis“)

His personal goals are simple: He said he wants to stay consistent and avoid going into a slump similar to the 0-for-22 streak he had at one point last season. He would like to hit for more power this season, after working on that area this offseason, but won’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come. And if the accolades come, he said his approach will be the same.

“I don’t really look that much into those things; I just try to go about my business the same way every day and try to make an impact on the team and try to help my teammates get better every day,” White said. “I don’t strive to win those accolades and things.”

On a team with five sophomore everyday starters, White will play a bigger role than most his age this season, going far beyond just one series of play.

“He’s on a mission to not just be a good player, but a great player. He prepares that way each day, and then it shows up in the game,” Gaspard said. “And that’s how you have great plate appearances; that’s how you make great defensive plays, but as much as that, he means that much to the team in just the way his leadership and the things that he brings to our program.”

(See also “UA baseball team sees expectations rise for 2014 season“)