Raiders’ Patrick may have home-run record, but he’s an all-around star

FAIRBORN — When the Wright State baseball coaches landed Andrew Patrick as a recruit, what they thought they were getting in the Hilliard Darby product was a contact hitter with good wheels.

After two years in the program, though, it’s safe to say Raider opponents WISH that were all he was.

The sophomore center fielder and leadoff hitter has emerged as the favorite to win the Horizon League Player of the Year award.

After never hitting more than three homers in high school, Patrick belted nine last season and 17 this year, breaking the school record of 16 shared by Nick Shields (2001), Bryan Vickers (2004) and Gehrig Anglin (2022).

He’s also hitting a team-best .340 and leads the league with 25 steals in 27 attempts.

“He’s special,” fifth-year coach Alex Sogard said. “He’s the best athlete we have. He’s the fastest runner, and he’s got power.

“He’s a complete hitter. With him, he’s not trying to hit home runs. He’s trying to hit line drives in the gap. And when they leave one up …”

Sogard didn’t finish his thought, but when opposing pitchers leave one up, it usually leaves the park.

The 6-foot-5, 192-pound Patrick admits he didn’t see his power surge coming. He’s altered his diet, staying away from soda and filling up on greens, fruits and proteins. And he’s been a weight room warrior.

But he didn’t expect immediate results and still has trouble viewing himself as a long-ball threat.

“I just want to make good swings. That’s been happening, and I’m really grateful for that,” he said.

“I don’t want to be a home run-strikeout guy. I want to be singles-doubles hitter — and let the home runs happen. I just want to get on base for the guys and do as much as I can.”

Patrick has a chance to add to his record with three games at Youngstown State this weekend and then the Horizon League tourney next week at Wright State.

As for being No. 1 on the homer list, he said: “It’s really crazy to think about because we’ve had a lot of great people come through this program. It’s a great honor. I’m just glad to be here and playing.”

Patrick is such a rare combination of speed and power that Sogard said: “We’ve been saying (as coaches) he may be the most talented player we’ve ever had step on campus here.”

The Raiders have produced 41 draft picks, including 16 in the last five years. Two of them are Major Leaguers, Braves catcher Sean Murphy and Marlins outfielder Peyton Burdick.

“He’s just so talented. His hands are so good. He’s fun to watch. And he has fun playing the game, which is what I love,” Sogard said.

Not that it came easily. Patrick was overmatched against college pitching much of last season, but he hit .388 in May to help the Raiders claim the HL regular-season and tourney titles.

“Last year was the first time he’s ever struggled playing baseball. He’s grown a lot,” Sogard said.

“We knew what he could do, but he’s surprised us with how quickly he’s done it.”

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