Eagle in his element when in the game

Published April 5, 2007

SPRING HILL - Tommy Dwyer just likes to play baseball. Plain and simple.

Derek Jeter is his favorite player. The Yankees are his favorite team.

He would love to play in college, but right now the junior's focus is on Springstead, which was 4-13 as of Monday.

On the field, he shines. Coming into this week, the Eagles right-handed pitcher had a 2.80 ERA and had struck out 34 in 35 innings. Opposing batters averaged .226 against him. Batting third in the lineup, Dwyer averaged .302 and led the team with two home runs.

But take Dwyer off the diamond and his sparkle becomes a little more subdued. He's just a quiet, laid-back kind of guy.

Senior first baseman/designated hitter Greg DePace remembered when Dwyer was brought onto the varsity team as a freshman.

"He was a little shy," DePace said. "But he did most of his talking with his skills."

He still does.

DePace, who is hitting .340, added that when Dwyer does talk, it'll be a quick joke or a good-natured jab. The duo compete against each other in most offensive categories.

After Dwyer hit the first home run of the season, DePace said Dwyer told him: "Tommy 1, Greg 0."

As of Monday, the home run contest was Tommy 2, Greg 1.

"He's got more home runs than me, but that's it," DePace said.

Sitting in the bleachers Monday watching his teammates take batting practice, Dwyer smiled shyly when talking about his approach to the game.

On the mound, his thought process is simple - throw strikes, keep the ball down.

Occasionally, his fastball will get up, but all he has to do is keep pitching. He also has solid command of the curveball and his changeup is coming along.

"He's got a very good curveball, and that's his outpitch," Springstead coach Frank Vitale said. "He's also got a good changeup sometimes. ...He tries to spot his fastball and get people out with his curveball."

The three-year varsity player also plays shortstop and centerfield. His favorite is centerfield.

"I like gunning people out at home plate," Dwyer said.

Kellie Dixon can be reached at kdixon@sptimes.com or 352 544-9480.