North Carolina shortstop Michael Russell will cherish his first trip to the College World Series for a long time.Its something that you grow up watching, said Russell, a three-sport all-conference player at Hopewell High before graduating in 2011. Its something you want to do, but its hard to see yourself actually there. Its more than I couldve asked for.Russell, a sophomore for the Tar Heels, had a memorable time in Omaha as he showcased his talent in front of more than 20,000 fans and on national television.The 20-year-old even drew attention for trading jabs on Twitter with former American Idol Scotty McCreery, an N.C. State student.Its been quite an experience, said Russell, who was 2-for-12 with three RBIs and a run in Omaha. Theres been a lot going on, a lot of baseball being played.Although hes disappointed that he couldnt help the Tar Heels bring home a national championship, the two-year starter is proud of his teams accomplishments.Russell, who hit .298 with 59 runs, 39 RBIs, two home runs and 18 stolen bases, helped North Carolina win a program-best 59 games on its way to ACC regular-season and tournament titles.This year was incredible, he said.North Carolina coach Mike Fox has been impressed with Russells improvement since he arrived on campus two summers ago.Hes come a long way, Fox said. Hes one of the hardest workers we have in our program. Hes done nothing but get better.Russell received the Tar Heels Francis Tripp Bourne Award, which is given to the teams most dedicated player. He was also on the ACC All-Academic team.Russell has contributed since he first put on a Tar Heel uniform. He started all of the teams 62 games his freshman season, hitting .269 along with 40 runs and 24 RBI. He played in the outfield most of the year before moving in to third base and eventually shortstop. Michaels been so versatile, said Fox. He can play all over the field, he can run, steal bases, hes helped us in a lot of ways.Although the college season is behind him, Russell will not be away from the baseball field this summer.The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is spending his summer in Massachusetts, playing in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League.Theyre obviously the best college players out there, said Fox, who sent four players to the league this summer. They gain a lot by playing up there.Russell joined the Chatham Anglers, along with teammate Landon Lassiter, after spending less than a week at home in Huntersville following the Tar Heels postseason run.Russell made his debut in Cape Cod during the Anglers 7-5 win against the Bourne Braves on July 2. Russell went 1-for-4 with a run scored.The former all-state player at Hopewell also had a chance to work out at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox, with his team.Russell hopes to continue to make memories this summer and to continue to get better, especially at the plate as he faces quality competition at one of Americas premier college wood-bat leagues. His coach wouldnt expect any less.This will be a great experience for him, said Fox. Hell come back an improved player. Im sure.
Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2013
Former Titan looks to build off trip to Omaha
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