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ND Baseball: Fresh face

Chris Khorey | Thursday, April 26, 2007

A.J. Pollock has always been confident.

Soon after he arrived last fall, a freshman just months removed from batting .462 his senior season at Regional Hebron Andover and Marlborough (RHAM) High School in Hebron, Conn., Pollock was sure he would be in the Notre Dame starting lineup come spring.

“I wanted to win a spot, and after the first couple weeks I knew I could play with anybody,” he said.

Now, at the end of his first year in South Bend, Pollock is the everyday third baseman and second hitter for an Irish team that is slowly working its way up the Big East standings after a rough start.

Notre Dame (22-18, 6-8 Big East) took two of three from West Virginia at home last weekend and travels to conference leader Rutgers this weekend for three games over two days.

For his part, Pollock is second on the team with a .360 batting average, has whacked three home runs and has 23 RBIs.

He has also personally scored 28 runs, a number that would be higher if it weren’t for Notre Dame’s struggles with runners in scoring position this season. Clutch hitting has been a thorn in the Irish side for much of the year. Late March – when Notre Dame stranded 38 runners in three games – was the low point.

But Pollock knew the team would come out of it – which it has.

“It seems like things are really coming together,” Pollock said. “Upperclassmen like [first baseman] Mike Dury and [centerfielder] Danny Dressman are getting big hits.”

Another struggle for Pollock this year has been adjusting to a new position. All through high school, he played shortstop, but when he arrived at Notre Dame, the coaching staff decided to put former third baseman Brett Lilley at shortstop and move Pollock to third.

“This is the first time I’ve played third base,” Pollock said. “It’s still a work in progress. I’m just trying to get comfortable.”

Pollock said Lilley has helped him make the transition.

“He knows the ins and outs of playing third base,” he said. “He’s always helping me with where to play and things like that which I haven’t mastered yet.”

Still, Pollock said the fundamentals are pretty much the same.

“You field the ball, and you throw it,” he said.

Notre Dame was scheduled to take on Valparaiso Wednesday at Frank Eck Stadium, but the game was rained out.

The team will leave Friday for New Jersey for its weekend series with the Scarlet Knights.