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February 12, 2014

Blazers’ Reed named GSC Player of the Week

VALDOSTA — The answer is simple.

Why could Paine College barely retire Valdosta State junior Mike Reed last weekend?

“Swing at good pitches,” Reed said Tuesday after being named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week. “I was swinging at strikes. That’s pretty much the main gist of it.”

In the 5-0 Blazers’ three-game sweep of the Lions, Reed hit .667 with two doubles, eight RBIs and seven runs scored. He also stole a base in his only attempt.

“Mike is, I believe, one of the premier players in the Gulf South Conference,” VSU coach Greg Guilliams said. “He plays a key position at shortstop, and he hasn’t done anything that I didn’t think he was capable of doing.

“When you swing the bat like that it stands out, but I think Mike is that kind of player.”

While early, Reed is living up to Guilliams’ expectations. Hitting second in a deep lineup, Reed is batting .500 with three doubles, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and three stolen bases.

The transfer from Jacksonville said that potent lineup that surrounds him — VSU is hitting .335 as a whole and averaging more than 12 runs per game — has definitely been beneficial as opposing pitchers have far more to worry about — like preseason all-conference leadoff hitter Matthew Fears and preseason all-conference and All-American Grant Hayman hitting third.

“They have to pitch to me, they have no choice,” Reed noted. “They walk the leadoff guy and then they have to come to me. There’s two guys that can hit bombs behind me and in front of me.”

Guilliams agreed, but didn’t think it was critical to Reed’s success.

“I think Mike would hit wherever we put him,” he said. “But having said that, I think he will get some opportunities because of who is hitting around him.

“But I think to have a good offensive team you have to be able to hit top to bottom. But I wouldn’t disagree that he’s in a good spot in the order.”

Said Reed: “We’ve got a lot of guys that can hit, and I feel like we’re pretty old and we have a lot of maturity. We’ve got a lot of guys that have been around a little while and have played a couple extra years. I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys that can really hit.”

Experience is also something Reed brings to the Blazers. The shortstop hit just .231 in eight games with the Dolphins last season, hitting one home run, one double and driving in three runs, scoring six more. That comes after a freshman season at Auburn that included just four games.

While on his third team in three years, Reed said those different environments have helped him develop too. But so has the cameraderie he has received since joining the Blazers.

“I enjoy meeting new people and stuff,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good guys on this team and they’ve got a lot of knowledge that maybe I had never heard of. So it’s always good to share information with each other.”

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