Eric Rose didn’t play like a freshman yesterday against
Minnesota.

The Michigan centerfielder went 5-for-5 in the contest to raise
his season batting average to a stellar .425. In the
weekend’s four games, Rose went 9-for-15 (.600). In the
bottom of the 12th inning of Friday’s 4-3 Michigan victory,
he also ignited the game-winning rally with a single. Junior
rightfielder Matt Butler’s subsequent base hit drove Rose
home for the decisive run.

Nobody is more proud of what this young player has been able to
accomplish so early on than his coach, Rich Maloney.

“Eric has a chance to be a great player,” Maloney
said after the conclusion of Sunday’s action. “He uses
his speed, he puts the ball in play, he can drag bunt. He’s
just fun to watch.”

Rose is not known for his power. A self-described “slap
hitter,” he has just seven RBIs and no home runs in the 13
games he has played. Though an 0-for-2 performance in the
weekend’s third game ended his seven-game hitting streak,
Rose — who recorded his first career hit in just his second
at-bat in a Michigan uniform — was ecstatic after his perfect
showing from the batter’s box in the final game of the
series.

“It feels tremendous,” Rose said of going 5-for-5.
“It’s huge for my self-confidence, and also the
team’s. (The other players) can put trust in me now and know
that I’m going to do my best for them.”

Maloney views Rose as a vital part of his squad’s core,
the type of player this improving program can build around. And the
coach also hopes Rose’s early success will only motivate the
freshman to try harder and achieve even greater goals.

“He’s one of the cornerstones of the team,”
Maloney said. “He’s gaining tremendous confidence, but
he’s always been a confident kid, so it’s natural for
him. I’m real happy for him to have this success, because
once they experience it, they want it more.”

This is not to say that everything has come easy for Rose. The
centerfielder believes an off-season swing readjustment was
instrumental in his success at the plate. The changes were intended
to improve his contact hitting.

“Coach changed a lot of stuff on my swing,” Rose
said. “Almost everything, to tell you the truth.”

Rose’s emergence has also been facilitated by his older
teammates. The assistance he has received from other players has
been instrumental to his development both on and off the field.

“The kids help me out a lot,” Rose said. “They
give me helpful hints here and there, and it’s a comforting
factor to have those kids there to help you through tough
times.”

Rose knows that the tough times will become less frequent with
more experience.

For now, though, this rookie sensation is thrilled with his
situation.

“I’m very happy at my position right now,”
Rose said. “I’m just taking it day by day.”

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