Every baseball team needs an energy boost atop the lineup, and Virginia Tech has to look no further than Jack Owens. Over the past two years, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound second baseman has tallied 141 hits since transferring from ECU. Last year, Owens reached base in 17 straight games at one point, a team-high for the season. He impacts the game in a number of ways, and will be a player the Hokies rely upon up the middle on defense and in the leadoff spot.
Q: If you could trade places with anyone in the world for a day, who would it be and why?
JO: I would have to say Conor McGregor just to feel what it’s like to talk that much trash and stand behind it. I think he’s one of the coolest athletes in the world right now. I love watching him fight, and I think that his persona gets under people’s skin, but he’s a really good competitor and fun to watch.
Q: What’s a movie you can practically quote from start to finish?
JO: I like Step Brothers a lot. I know a lot of Step Brothers’ lines as I’m sure everybody does.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
JO: That’s tough, but I remember Coach Szefc telling me about public speaking, because I get really nervous public speaking. He said he used to before he got these big jobs where he has to all the time. He said to slow down because they’re waiting for what you have to say. A lot of times I rush, and I miss words and skip over them when I could just take my time and think.
Q: What’s been your favorite memory over your time at Virginia Tech?
JO: If I had to pick one, it would probably be the walk-off to sweep Boston College two years ago. That was a really special moment with that group of guys. It was just a great weekend win. That was a highlight weekend for us.
Q: You had to sit out a year as a transfer. What’s one thing you learned about the game of baseball from just sitting back and watching?
JO: I think I learned that I love it. That was the hardest year of my life sitting there and watching. We didn’t have a good year that year, so I learned that hard work equals success. That year I worked a lot and I didn’t get to prove it on the field, but I came back next year and had a really good year.
Q: You were one start away from 100 straight starts last year before you sat out against VMI with an illness. How badly did you want to be on the field for that one? Did you try to convince the coaches?
JO: I wanted to be out there so bad. I don’t remember trying to convince coaches because I felt like death. I felt like I was on my deathbed. It was hard because you work so hard to be healthy, but I’m just glad it wasn’t an injury.
Q: How would you describe Coach Szefc to someone who has never met him before?
JO: Very accountable. He’s the same guy every day. That’s what he preaches to us, and he walks the walk.
Q: What’s the most important role of a leadoff batter in your mind?
JO: I think it’s setting the tone for the game. A lot of times your first hitter is the guy you want to show the other team what we’re made of. The first at-bat has to be a tough one. It’s not necessarily early action in the count. You have to see more pitches so your teammates can see what the other pitcher has. Having good, hard at-bats.
Q: Your batting average took a little dip last year. What might have gone wrong, and what is something you’ve put a focus on this offseason to correct going forward this year?
JO: Baseball is a game of ups and downs, and I’m not the best at handling them. I think that when things got down last year I wasn’t very mentally strong and confident in my abilities. I kind of got away from myself. Looking forward this year, it’s regardless of batting average, I want to be the same person and not change who I am based on numbers.
Q: How do you want people to remember Jack Owens when you take off the Virginia Tech jersey for the last time?
JO: I just want them to think that I played hard every game and that’s all I can ask.