Sarty gives Rams consistent offense at top of order
Last season when Shepherd was winning a school-record 39 games as well as taking both the regular season and tournament championships in the Mountain East Conference, the Rams often followed the lead of junior outfielder J.J. Sarty.
Sarty flirted with a second consecutive .400 batting average before being stopped by the pitching in the Atlantic Regional where the Rams were representing their league.
The agile centerfielder still completed the 2016 season with a .367 batting average with 80 hits in 218 at-bats. He slugged 11 homers, scored 53 times and drove in 62 runs while often batting second or third in Coach Matt McCarty’s order.
A transfer from William & Mary where he hit .280 in 2013, going 51-for-182 in his only season for The Tribe, Sarty came to Shepherd for the 2015 season after being a shortstop at William & Mary and for the Aldie Senators of the Valley Baseball League. Sarty batted .367 for Aldie, going 22-for-60 against some quality summer league pitching.
In 2015, Shepherd also won 39 games and the Mountain East Conference’s regular season title.
In his first year with the Rams, Sarty batted a crisp .420, going 71-for-169. He had 18 doubles, nine homers, 48 RBIs, 118 total bases and a glowing .472 on-base percentage. He would be successful on 16 of 21 stolen base attempts, a figure he improved to 38 steals in 41 attempts last season.
Sarty’s offensive success at Shepherd could have been predicted because of his one-year performance at William & Mary, where he started 41 of the 53 games he appeared in at the NCAA Division I school. As a younger player at William & Mary, Sarty made only one error, scored 22 runs, had eight doubles and drove in 34 runs while achieving a .307 on-base percentage.
Shepherd is scheduled to open its 2017 season this weekend in North Carolina at UNC-Pembroke, another NCAA Division II team just opening its season.
With a core of hitters who have been reliable in the recent past, Sarty will see the likes of Jacob Carney, Mike Brown, Ron Farley, Chase Smallwood, Brandon Kirk and Daniel Heleine in the lineup around him.
Returning pitchers A.J. Stead, John Bentley and Ryan Pansch give the Rams a formidable group of starters to chase after their third straight conference regular season and tournament championships.
Sarty and Carney have been Shepherd’s most consistent offensive threats . . . with Sarty driving in runs, reaching base safely and scoring a fistful of runs.
After being named to all-conference teams, all-Region teams and even drawing some all-America mention for his past two season’s work, Sarty could reap similar honors again in his senior year.
His offensive work hasn’t been accomplished as the Rams’ only run producer . . . or caused people to say, “As Sarty goes, so go the Rams,” but as Shepherd’s most consistent force if Sarty is silenced then Shepherd is hard-pressed to score many runs.