Motivation can be found anywhere, especially in the dark days. Of course, you have to be willing to look, unsettling as it may be.
In the spring, a much-motivated St. Xavier High School graduate Donovan Pogue became the first baseball player in Thomas More College history to be named a Division III first-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings, according to the school. He was a second-team All-American by D3baseball.com, in addition to being the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Pogue, a junior designated hitter from Sharonville, led the Saints with a .450 average (67-for-149), 55 RBI, seven homers and 13 doubles.
Those are gaudy numbers for a 42-game season in which Thomas More went 30-12.
It wasn’t always raining hits, at-bats and awards for Pogue, who’s posted inflated numbers in all three years at Thomas More.
Once, Pogue was starving for opportunities. As a senior at St. Xavier, he had just 15 plate appearances.
“If you look at his high school stats, he didn’t play,” said Thomas More coach Jeff Hetzer, who said in a non-accusatory way: “I just don’t know how he didn’t get on the field (at St. X).”
Every kid wants to play. Pogue (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) said not playing left him hungry.
“I definitely feel like I’ve had a chip on my shoulder from not playing in high school,” Pogue said. “I use that (not playing) to drive me.”
Hetzer said he and his staff saw Pogue in the summer, and his swing left a mark. Thomas More was one of three schools to offer him, Pogue said. Hetzer nor Pogue wasted any time.
“If anything, the biggest surprise would have been how well he did as a freshman (at Thomas More),” said Hetzer, who started Pogue in 29 of 34 games his freshman year. He hit .404 with 26 RBI.
“I really didn’t think I would (play college baseball) after only getting 15 at-bats,” Pogue said.
Three years ago, Pogue said he was “demoralized” after his playing time evaporated. Now, square in the rear view, he’s remembering one of the best offensive seasons in recent memory.
“Out of all the year’s coaching, this is probably the most unbelievable offensive season I’ve ever seen,” said Hetzer, who’s coached Thomas More for 15 years. “To hit .450 with those numbers, and the most impressive thing was the walks, almost a 2-to-1 ratio of walks to strikeouts. He was locked in all year long. I’ve never seen a guy in a zone like that the entire year.”
Pogue said he participated in a Reds tryout June 3, and he thought “I held my own. I definitely think I can play at the next level.”