Robinson is getting the Job Done

Shane Robinson has started the 2005 season better than most could expect. He leads the team in batting average, on-base percentage, and even slugging percentage. But getting to this point took Robinson through a series of swing changes, and a rash of frustration before he finally came around at last year's ACC tournament.

Florida State coach Mike Martin couldn't ask for much more from centerfielder Shane Robinson.

Robinson's become a consummate leadoff batter, playing with confidence and riding the wave of momentum that started at last season's ACC tournament, where he earned the MVP award.

"Everything has been falling for me the right way," said Robinson. "It's just a dream to come to Florida State, start as a freshmen, and have the year that I'm having as a sophomore."

Entering the series against St. Joe's, Robinson's batting .486 (fifth in the ACC) with a .571 on base percentage. He leads the team in doubles (4), and slugging percentage (.686).

In the Seminoles second series of the year, against the Virginia Military Institute, Robinson went 7-for-12 with four runs scored, two doubles, two RBI's, and a .615 on base percentage. He was flawless on defense, and perfect on four attempted steals.

Robinson continued his campaign against Auburn, leading the team in hits, runs, RBI's, homeruns, total bases and steals. He also extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Through the season's opening stretch, he's successfully stolen a conference-leading eight times on nine attempts. If he continued at his current pace, Robinson could have a shot at Florida State's single-season record of 51, established by Edwin Alicea in 1988, although it's still very early in the season.

"I don't think we can have a guy with his speed be too aggressive," Coach Mike Martin said. "If I look at him and give him a little nod, he would be ready to go, instead of him getting to first base and saying this guy's too quick we got nobody out, I can't take a chance here."

Robinson's swift base running also makes things easier for the next batter in the lineup, something Martin hopes the team can take better advantage of though the rest of the season.

"With (Robinson's) speed on first base I've been seeing a lot of fastballs because they're worried about him stealing," said Gibbs Chapman, who typically follows Robinson in Florida State's lineup. "They're going to try to get ahead with fastballs and keep him on first. So, it's good for me."

But Robinson's current brush with success didn't come without hard work, and a touch of hard times.

The coaches worked with Robinson during his freshmen year to adjust his approach at the plate, and mold him into a fundamentally sound lead-off batter. Their goal was to change his stance, and shorten his swing to help him drive groundballs, said Robinson. But the immediate results, which showed signs of improvement, eventually became less than favorable.

"They wanted me to have a swing where I just pepper the ball on the ground, and it worked out for a couple of series, but then I started getting frustrated with it. I wasn't hitting the ball with as much power as I would like to, and so I found a midway point," said Robinson.

He took what the coaches were telling him, and adjusted his new setup to a point where it felt natural. It wouldn't be long before Robinson would shake the frustration.

The turnaround came at last season's conference tournament. Now comfortable with the swing changes he'd gone through, Robinson went 11-for-26 at the plate with six RBI's. He also made several clutch plays on defense, leading his team to the ACC championship.

"Robinson has developed so much from last year," Martin said. "I think the fact he was the most valuable player in the ACC tournament, then he had a good summer, he sees now that he can play with anybody in the country."

Nole Digest Top Stories