April 25, 2016

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – For a guy who came to John A. Logan College to pitch, sophomore Tyler Robertson is making quite a name for himself as a shortstop.

The Russell Springs, Ky. native could never get out of the chute as a pitcher for the Vols because he suffered an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery, forcing him to miss all of the 2014 spring season, which resulted in a medical redshirt year.

Last year as a freshman, Robertson threw some bullpen sessions and was unable to pitch without pain or regain his velocity.

Robertson said he was at his low point and felt he was out of options with his baseball career.

Fortunately for him, there was another option.

Vols’ head coach Jerry Halstead convinced Robertson that he could make the transition to position player and immediately inserted him into the lineup. He played some shortstop and then later some first base, and gradually, showed progress.

This spring, his hard work has paid off. Robertson is now the everyday starting shortstop. He is second on the team in batting with a .393 average. He has 66 hits in 168 at bats, including 11 doubles, two triples, and two home runs. Moreover, he has driven in 25 from the No. 2 hole in the batting order and has scored 49 runs.

A gifted athlete, Robertson has also stolen 19 bases and been caught only once. His on-base percentage is a stunning .472.

Defensively, the kid from the Bluegrass state makes almost all the routine plays and a few highlight reel plays to boot.

“My fielding has gotten a lot better,” Robertson said. “Last year, I would stay back on the ball too much. Now, I am more aggressive and attack the ball.”

The same could be said for his hitting. He is constantly collecting multi-hit games.

“If I don’t get at least two hits, I’m pretty disappointed,” he said. “It’s what I’ve come to expect of myself.”

Robertson said that while he’s pleased he’s been posting some good numbers this spring, he doesn’t focus on his accomplishments.

“To be truthful, I get more pleasure out of seeing one of my teammates do well. I loved it when Horch (sophomore Tyler Horchem) hit a grand slam the other day. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team. And yes, I have kind of surprised myself a little. I always knew I could run, but I didn’t know if I could hit at this level.”

It turns out he can.

Halstead said he’s glad Robertson didn’t give up on the game when his pitching career turned south.

“T-Rob has been a very solid contributor for us on both offense and defense,” Halstead said. “He’s an outstanding athlete, a consistent performer, and leads by example. I couldn’t ask more from him. He’s simply had an outstanding season so far, and I hope it continues.”

Robertson was better known in high school for his basketball prowess, having scored a stunning 2,000-plus career points.

“I moved around from the 2 to 3 spot on the floor – whatever the team needed me to do. There are times I miss playing, but I’m playing baseball for a reason. It’s what I do best and I am hopeful that I will be able to play for a Division I school this fall, preferably down south, but I’m not picky.”

Before he moves on to the next level, Robertson is intent upon leading the Vols to a Great Rivers Athletic Conference crown and long run into the postseason.

“If we continue to get good pitching, I think we should be pretty solid,” he said. “I like the makeup of this ballclub. We do a lot of things well.”

Robertson said he tentatively plans to major in education as he would like to pursue a teaching and coaching career when his playing days are over.

Tyler is the son of Mark and Connie Robertson. He has a younger sister, Sara, who is a junior in high school.

“Logan has been a great fit for me,” Robertson said. “I’ve learned a lot from the coaches and have made many good friends these last three years. It would be special to go out here on a positive note.”