March 31, 2010 9:10:00 AM
While playing baseball at West Lowndes High School, D.Q. Farmer never got to trot around the bases as the result of hitting a home run.
But since getting to Mississippi Valley State University, Farmer has shown he has some pop in his bat.
Farmer, a freshman at Mississippi Valley, leads the Delta Devils with two home runs -- connecting in both games of a doubleheader against Alabama State on March 20.
"That was remarkable," Farmer said of his two-home run feat. "I wasn''t trying to hit any home runs. The first one I didn''t try to, but the second one I tried to. The first one I was just trying to get a base hit. But when I saw I could do it, I tried to do it the second game. I actually hit the one in the second game in my first at-bat. I told one of my teammates I was going to go up there and try to hit one."
The home runs showed Farmer can generate power from his small 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame.
Farmer was brought along slowly early in the season, but after doubling off the wall against Mississippi State on March 17 he started five consecutive games in right field.
He missed Tuesday''s game against Stillman and will miss today''s game against Stillman after hurting his side in practice Monday, but he hopes to be back in the lineup this weekend against Jackson State.
Farmer has played in 18 of Mississippi Valley''s 25 games, with 12 starts.
He believes his hit against MSU helped him earn the starting position, but Mississippi Valley coach Doug Shanks says that''s not the case.
"It just showed our coaching evaluation was correct," Shanks said. "We made up our minds he was going to end up winning that job. I told his dad the second week of the season I felt like before it was all over he was going to win that job because you can just see the talent.
"We kind of baited him along at first and let him have a start here and a start there and let him fill in here and fill in there. Then we turned him loose and said, ''Hey let''s go with him, it''s time for him to play.'' That''s really the only way he''s going to get better."
The Mississippi State game was special for Farmer, who grew up in Louisville and lived in Crawford the past three years.
"It was like something was lifted off my shoulders," Farmer said of the double. "It was basically a homecoming for me. I had a lot of fans there. It meant a lot to hit it in front of a lot of family members and friends who came to support us."
Farmer is batting .286 with a .405 on-base percentage. He has been successful on the bases, swiping seven of eight attempts.
Farmer credits an adjustment he made at the plate for helping him succeed in college. He was accustomed to pitchers throwing in the low 80s in high school and he had to adjust to pitchers hitting the high 80s and low 90s in college.
"I had to make an adjustment in my batting stance," Farmer said. "I have a totally different batting stance from what I had in high school. My swing is shorter and more compact. It''s quicker to the ball. I had a long swing in high school and I brought it with me to college, and I didn''t get any success out of it, so I had to make an adjustment."
Farmer also credits the work he did in the summer for helping him become a starter as a freshman.
"I did a lot of core exercises," Farmer said. "I feel like I''ve improved my core. I did a lot of long jogging to make sure my legs were up under me for a long season because the season can be pretty tiring. I basically did a lot of long tossing. I was hitting the cage pretty hard, too. I was also doing a lot of weight lifting and running."
Shanks, a former scout, hasn''t been surprised by how Farmer has performed this season, and believes he has a promising future at Mississippi Valley.
"We knew early on we had a real talent," Shanks said. "We thought we did during the recruiting process. We felt like he was going to be like most freshmen and be overwhelmed for a little while, so we picked our spots on playing him. Right before the Mississippi State game we made a decision to stick him in the lineup and we were not going to pull him out.
"He''s going to give you great performances, and sometimes he''ll mess up, too, because he''s a freshman. He''s still learning a lot about the game and the way it''s played at this level. He''s got a chance to be a great player. He''s had his ups and downs. He''s missed a bunt sign and he didn''t get a bunt far enough away from the catcher and things like that, but I''ll tell you what, his upside is he isn''t afraid of anything."
Mississippi Valley is 10-14 and 4-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference after sweeping doubleheaders against Alabama A&M and Alabama State.
The Delta Devils opened the season against Notre Dame and also played Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Miss, Louisiana-Monroe, and Mississippi State to help them prepare for the conference schedule.
"I feel like we can finish in first place," Farmer said. "We have a good pitching staff and the hitters are coming around. If we keep the momentum we have going right now we''ll finish in first place."