TechSideline.com will be highlighting all the seniors on the baseball team as they give it one final run in a Hokie uniform. Virginia Tech opens its season on February 14 against San Diego State in Conway, South Carolina.
After occupying the five-hole in the lineup for much of the 2019 season, Tanner Thomas returns for his senior campaign. A junior college transfer from Tallahassee CC, Thomas hit .240 with two home runs and 28 RBIs. With a team full of newcomers, the corner outfielder’s experience will be relied upon in 2020. Thomas was chosen by his teammates as the senior representative for the team’s leadership committee.
Q: You’re from Jacksonville, Florida. What’s your favorite thing to do there?
TT: In Jacksonville, obviously it’s home so it’s just that home feeling. There’s the Jacksonville Jaguar games and the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp baseball games, AAA. It’s a fun city and there’s water all around too, so you get to jet ski, boat, fish, do whatever you want. That’s obviously all fun for me.
Q: Who are your roommates and what’s the top complaint you have about them?
TT: My roommates are Jaison Heard and Peyton Alford. I’d probably have to say my biggest complaint is their high energy at late night. Sometimes I want to sleep, and they’re still going. They won’t leave me alone, but at the same time I enjoy it because it’s all about memories.
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
TT: I would probably have to say Mike Trout, obviously one of the greatest of all time as of right now. He’s just humble and seems to be pretty wise. Ask for some tips.
Q: What’s been your favorite memory over your time at Virginia Tech?
TT: Obviously the team. Both years we’ve grown as a brotherhood. Just balling out with everyone and having a good time, having to grind with everyone. The blood, sweat, and tears all together, I’ve enjoyed it.
Q: How would you describe Coach Szefc to someone who has never met him?
TT: Very laid-back even though he looks intimidating. He definitely likes to work hard, so he’ll make sure you do that and have fun at the same time.
Q: The responsibility falls on you to be the vocal leader this year in a sense. How do you handle that, and is that a responsibility you value and enjoy?
TT: I definitely enjoy it, and it kind of comes naturally to me. I plan on taking that on by getting more individual work with everyone. I’m not afraid to rah rah and cheer on my whole team as a whole, but getting to know each player more and more throughout the season, that just seems to build more of a bond for everyone.
Q: You ended the year last year with a .240 batting average. What have you been working on this offseason to be a more consistent hitter?
TT: Just more and more reps. A lot on my own time and asking for advice from people who have gone further than me and seen a lot more than me. Just ask for advice, putting in more work with it, and more of a mental game with the Brian Cain tips. Just putting more time into it.
Q: How helpful has Coach Elbin been to you in coaching you up as you work on that approach?
TT: Helping me by the past year, he seemed to pull together a lot of stats and a lot of film that would help me for this future season. Finding out my weaknesses and my strengths and focusing more on them.
Q: What did you learn about the game or about yourself over the course of your first year in a league like the ACC last year?
TT: To put aside the ego, for sure. It’s not an individual sport, obviously. I first went to JUCO, and the whole point of JUCO was to get out of JUCO. Coming here the first year, you need everyone on the team. You need everyone on the staff and on the team because you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
Q: How do you want people to remember Tanner Thomas when you take off the Virginia Tech jersey for the last time?
TT: Probably have to say just a high-energy, loving guy. Not going to be a negative dude toward you. He’s going to find the positive in you and lead you in the right direction.