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Evan Sleight: Team-oriented player looking for success at Rutgers

Junior outfielder Evan Sleight has been a key contributor for the Rutgers baseball team this season. – Photo by Tom Gilbert /

The Rutgers baseball team's junior outfielder Evan Sleight is a team-oriented player who focuses on the success of the squad as a whole rather than his own individual success.

"As a team, we always, you know, work as hard as we can together," Sleight said. "It's not really me, it's just the culture of the team that we built, and I'm just trying to bring my approach to the field every day and try to do everything we can to win."

Recently, this approach has done wonders for the Scarlet Knights (15-13, 1-2) and Sleight himself. After going 2-22 at the plate to start the season, the Framingham, Massachusetts, native has recorded at least one hit in 20 of the team's last 22 games.

"I would say maybe after the first five or six games, after the first two weeks, he's been incredible. I think he's probably hitting close to .450 from that point on," head coach Steve Owens said of Sleight's recent success.

During that 22-game span, Sleight has smashed a team-leading 7 home runs, which currently puts him in the top 10 for home runs throughout the Big Ten.

On April 2, in Rutgers' first conference victory, Sleight hit 2 home runs. One of them was a solo homer in the sixth inning of that game, followed by a three-run shot in the very next inning for the Knights.

When asked if home runs were his biggest attribute, Sleight pointed to another trait in his game.

"I'm more of a line-drive hitter," he said. "I think that's something I pride myself on is being able to hit line drives and use the big parts of the field."

Owens spoke about changing up the batting order for Rutgers in that Sunday game against the Spartans when he placed Sleight in the cleanup spot of the batting order, which is a place designated for the team's best runs batted in (RBI) producer.

"We moved him to a different spot in the lineup today because he's starting to drive runs in, and, obviously, you know, that paid a big dividend for the team today. So, he's swinging the bat very well," Owens said.

As of April 4, Sleight owns a .394 batting average and a 1.168 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Along with his seven long balls, he has racked up 20 RBIs as well as a team-leading 27 runs scored. The outfielder is top 10 in the Big Ten in batting average, OPS, hits and doubles.

Sleight commended his great play to the rest of his teammates and the Knights' persistence for triumph this season. After starting the year 3-7, Rutgers has improved. The Knights have gone 12-6 since their seventh loss of the season.

"For the whole team, it's been challenging," Sleight said. "It's been a tough start, so I think our resilience is something that's been big, and you know everyone has been working through it, so we're just going to keep going and see where it takes us.

For more updates on the Rutgers baseball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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