The Albany Dutchmen were in the midst of a five-game losing streak when they battled the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs on Sunday, June 22.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Dutchmen and the Diamond Dawgs were tied at one, and Albany was searching for someone, anyone, to come up with the big hit that would make the losing streak a thing of the past.
That’s where Rider outfielder James Locklear came in.
Locklear clubbed a two-run single to give the Dutchmen a 3-1 lead in a game Albany would win, 4-2. For his clutch hitting efforts, Locklear has been named the team’s third Spotlight Player of the Week. He joins fellow outfielder Sean Aspinall (Azusa Pacific) and pitcher Drew Tolson (Baylor) as recipients of the award in 2014.
Locklear said he didn’t alter his approach at the plate, and was simply searching for the right pitch — a pitch that came right away.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit early in the count, and he threw a first pitch fastball,” Locklear said. “I took a good swing at it, and it went over the shortstop’s head for the hit.”
Locklear has been Albany’s best hitter with runners in scoring position this season. In 14 at bats with runners on second or third, Locklear has seven hits, good for a .500 average.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Locklear has been one of the most consistent hitters in the Albany lineup in addition to his clutch hitting. The outfielder is hitting .319, second best among Dutchmen hitters with more than one at-bat. He has driven in eight runs and scored another seven, and has consistently put the ball in play, striking out just three times.
In the 2014 season at Rider, Locklear started every game for the Broncs, and was second on the team with 27 runs batted in. The Hamilton, New Jersey native was a two-sport athlete in high school, one of many on the Dutchmen roster. Locklear was an all-conference selection in basketball as well as being an All-State baseball player for Steinert High School.
Locklear, who also scored a run in the Dutchmen win over Utica and drove in two runs in the loss at Mohawk Valley, said he was simply the guy that took advantage of the opportunity to put the Dutchmen back in the win column.
“It was huge for our team to get that win,” Locklear said. “I just happened to be in the spot to get the hit.”