It was a roller-coaster type of weekend for Michigan shortstop
Jeremy Goldschmeding. After going 4-for-9 from the plate with three
RBI in the first three games against Illinois from Friday to
Saturday, Goldschmeding rolled his right ankle in a freak accident
during a fielding drill just 20 minutes before yesterday’s
final game, leaving his future availability in doubt.

In the top of the third inning of Saturday’s early game,
Goldschmeding flashed his potential.

It didn’t come in the form of a powerful home run. After
all, he hasn’t hit one since last season. Rather, the
sophomore displayed what he is capable of on defense. Illinois
outfielder Ryan Rogowski hit a sharp line drive up the middle, but
the rangy Goldschmeding leapt up to make a spectacular grab for the
second out of the inning, drawing raucous cheers from the
crowd.

“Any time a great play is made, it gives the team a little
bit of a lift,” Goldschmeding said. “If I can make a
couple great plays and all those routine plays, we’ll get a
little extra confidence and be able to do some things.”

The problem is, Goldschmeding is still learning to make those
routine plays. Despite showing occasional signs of brilliance like
Saturday’s glove-work, he has a team-leading 14 errors and a
sub-par .890 fielding percentage.

Michigan coach Rich Maloney — who expects at least a .930
fielding mark from Goldschmeding’s position —
understands that his shortstop is learning on the job after
starting only 25 games at his position last year.

“Jeremy is still fighting consistency,” Maloney said
after Saturday’s games. “Right now, he’s better
than he was last year, but he’s still not where he needs to
be to be a championship shortstop. But he has definitely made
tremendous strides from last year. He makes some plays that are
major league (caliber).”

Still, Goldschmeding is taking his defensive maturation day by
day.

“I was sitting back on the ball and not really going to
get it,” he said of his early-season difficulties. “Now
I’ve started going to get (the ball) and (the errors) have
gone down a little bit.”

All the attention being paid to Goldschmeding’s erratic
defense should not obscure what he has been able to accomplish at
the plate this year. His .359 batting average is the second best on
the team, up from a .231 mark in his freshman season. His hit in
Saturday’s later contest extended his hitting streak to seven
games.

Unfortunately, the ankle injury Goldschmeding suffered before
game time on yesterdayprevented him from extending the run to
eight. The shortstop spent the final day of the weekend’s
series sitting on the bench with a wrap on his ankle and crutches
in his hands. Freshman Leif Mahler got the start at short in place
of Goldschmeding.

“I just went down to get a ball and my (right) ankle just
shot out from underneath me,” Goldschmeding said. “It
just turned over.”

The injury has been initially diagnosed as a sprain, but its
severity won’t be fully known until X-rays are taken. Maloney
is optimistic about Goldschmeding’s recovery.

“Hopefully it’s just a sprained ankle,”
Maloney said. “We’ll do everything we can to get him
back as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Goldschmeding attributes his hitting
improvement to making adjustments in his approach and gaining
valuable experience in the off-season.

“I think experience is the biggest thing,” he said.
“(But) I’ve also changed my stance a little bit, and
I’ve shortened my swing. I had a real long swing (in high
school) that wasn’t that conducive to hitting in college,
(but) now I’m swinging at better pitches. I think summer ball
made the biggest difference.”

Goldschmeding spent the summer on the Baseball Academy Red team
in Bradenton, Fla., where he was able to get more at-bats under his
belt.

“I saw more pitches at the college level,”
Goldschmeding said of playing in the Florida Collegiate
Instructional League. “It helped me have a better approach
when I’m hitting. I know what to expect more now, when last
year I didn’t really.”

For now, Maloney is content to follow Goldschmeding’s
continuing improvement on offense and defense.

“We get signs from (Goldschmeding) right now, but signs
don’t always win championships,” Maloney said.
“You have to have performance. Is he going to be a player who
takes it to a championship level, or is he going to stay where
he’s at? My hunch is he’ll take it another notch, but
that’s what we need to see.”

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