Jeb Malek has been a valuable utility player for the Temple College baseball team.
The Navasota High School graduate’s versatility as an infielder resulted in him receiving four consecutive starts during March and two straight starts in mid-April.
As of April 17, the freshman walk-on played 15 of 45 games and batted .222 with two runs batted in. He pitched twice in relief and had an 8.10 earned run average.
“I’m pretty satisfied,” said Malek, who chose Temple over another Texas school because of its proximity to home.
He said his playing time is based on injuries that take teammates out of the lineup. For example, when the starting shortstop suffered an injury, he started at that position during a doubleheader at Hill College.
Playing primarily shortstop and second base, he had a .828 fielding percentage in 29 chances. He said his errors have been mostly on throws. “I was rushing them,” he said. “I’d be a little off target. I would overthrow.”
Batting at or near the bottom of the order, Malek hit in three consecutive g a m e s from April 10 to 13. He doubled in his lone at-bat during the first g a m e of a doubleheader against Vernon and had a season-best two hits in five at-bats with one RBI in the next game. He doubled for a second consecutive game.
“My swing has improved a lot,” he said. “We made my swing a little shorter and more efficient.”
He has noticed an increase in velocity from opposing pitchers. “I was able to see Division I talent,” he said. “You have to focus more, keep your eye on the ball.”
“If they pitch away, you have to look for an outside pitch to hit to right field,” he said. “On an inside pitch, back off the plate a little and try to get your hands inside and hit the ball fair.”
He has been making hard contact, he said, sometimes being retired on line drives at fielders or sharp grounders in the gaps. “The opponents have pretty good defenses,” he said. “They run balls down.”
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at firstname.lastname@example.org .