NIU baseball: Joe Jumonville finds magic in swing

NIU baseball: Joe Jumonville finds magic in swing

By Steve Shonder

Freshman Joe Jumonville has started to find the blueprint for adjusting to college baseball.

After struggling through the early part of the season, Jumonville started to find his stride at the plate in April. He hit a pair of home runs against the UW-Milwaukee Panthers on March 31 and got his batting average over .300 a game later against the Kent State Golden Flashes on April 3. He credits that upswing to his footwork in the batter’s box.

“I’ve been doing a little bit of adjusting,” Jumonville said. “It’s more of a slow load and having my foot down earlier before the pitch is coming. I used to have the problem of leaving my foot up and coming late on every pitch.”

Jumonville’s been mired in a slight slump during the Huskies’ recent losing streak; however, there have been signs he’s ready to break out of it. He’s been working counts and avoiding the pitfalls of jumping on the first pitch he sees. Most importantly, he hasn’t let it get to him.

“He’s one of those guys who doesn’t let a bad day and bad at-bat affect him because he’ll show up the next at-bat,” said head coach Mike Kunigonis. “Today, he’s 0-4 and then he comes up and has that great at-bat, drawing a walk when we needed it. That’s what good hitters do, and that’s what the guys that have a good mental approach do. They separate it at-bat to at-bat.”

Jumonville has been a constant presence in the Huskies’ lineup, starting in 32 of the Huskies’ 36 games and appearing in 33 of them. He and freshman Brad Wood are the only two freshmen on the team who have played in more than 30 games.

Jumonville has made the most of his appearances. His 14 RBIs are tied for fourth highest on the team, and he is second on the team in runs scored with 19.

While the mechanical adjustments Jumonville has made have helped, it’s been his mental approach that’s made the biggest difference for him. Waiting on his pitch has made him a more dangerous hitter for pitchers to face and has made things easier for himself.

“After a couple home runs one game, I was talking to him and he said both pitches were the pitches he was looking for,” said hitting coach Luke Stewart. “That’s having a plan. That’s probably the biggest thing that we’ve been telling all these guys: each time you got up to hit, have a plan. Joe’s taking that and running with it.”

Part of Jumonville’s plan has been avoiding falling prey to the first pitch, and it’s made him a more patient hitter. Sometimes the pitch might look too good to pass up, but he knows the perils of getting into that habit.

“Sometimes, I get first-pitch happy and always try to swing at the first pitch,” Jumonville said. “Once [pitchers] realize that, they’ll start you off with off-speed, then you have to work the count and look off-speed instead of fastball.”

The changes for Jumonville at the plate have been paying off, but he’s never done making them. It’s a daily process for hitters, and he’s making sure that he keeps up with that.

“The biggest thing is he’s getting better everyday,” Stewart said. “He believes what we’re telling him, and he does a good job working hard. He’s a tough son of a gun, too. He works hard, and he doesn’t like being beat. All that put together is a good combo for a good hitter.”