Following a season marred by inconsistency and immaturity, UC Davis needed to make some changes. The first was to get David Popkins more involved.
“From the moment we stepped on the field in the fall, we knew it was going to be a different attitude,” Popkins said. “Chemistry is 100 times better this year. Everybody on the team is buddies – they’re brothers.”
After logging just 18 at-bats a year ago, the two-way player recorded 10 times as many this year, recording 188 at-bats. With the increased playing time came unstoppable production.
The San Diego, Calif. sophomore paced the club with a .388 batting average, .473 on base percentage, .580 slugging percentage, 109 total bases, 43 RBI and three triples.
With such a young hitter performing so well, the Aggies hope Popkins can at least repeat his stellar 2010 season.
“He had a great year,” said coach Rex Peters. “With the numbers he had, it will be hard to improve but he can certainly match those totals.”
For his Herculean performance at the plate, Popkins was named First Team All-Big West Conference. The recognition means a lot as the Big West was one of the best baseball conferences in the nation with two of the league’s top squads making it to the postseason.
As impressive as his numbers are, Popkins’ biggest asset may be the one between his ears.
While his numbers from the mound are not as good as those from the batter’s box, the maturity and leadership he brings to the team is more valuable than any individual accomplishment.
“Last year everyone kind of seemed like they were playing for themselves, especially when we had our losing record,” Popkins said. “This year it’s totally different. We’re going to battle, to win together.”
For all of these reasons, The California Aggie names David Popkins its Male Athlete of the Quarter.
– Mark Ling