SHS alum Roots hits stride as college sophomore
Published 6:40 pm Thursday, July 7, 2022
By Barbara Boxleitner
Noah Roots had a successful first season in his University of Mary Washington baseball career.
So the Smithfield High School graduate was a bit underwhelmed by his performance this spring, even though the sophomore received all-Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference honorable mention recognition.
“I was glad I got the honor of being on the all-conference team,” said the son of Carrollton residents William and Sonya Roots. “In my opinion, I thought I had a down year.”
In 15 games last year, the starting first baseman batted .423 with seven runs batted in.
“My first year came a little bit easier to me,” he said, noting that he was able to thrive because he was unknown to pitchers.
After playing at 175 pounds his first year, the 6-foot-3 Roots played at 200 this season. The 25 pounds of muscle resulted in durability, for he played 38 of 40 games, and power.
He batted .280 with a team-high four home runs and 12 doubles. His 24 RBIs ranked second on the squad.
“I was attacked very differently from every pitcher I faced,” he said. “It was a lot of offspeed. There were games where I would only see two fastballs in four or five at-bats.”
Pitchers threw away from him, too, trying to entice him to chase pitches, though he was able to cover the plate and maintain discipline.
He was third on the team with 132 at-bats and had 15 walks and 19 strikeouts, the latter the fewest among those on the squad with at least 114 at-bats.
He had 10 multihit efforts and a season-high six-game hitting streak.
Roots altered his hitting approach after working with an area hitting coach during the winter break, he said.
“I raised my hands higher,” he said. “It made me more direct to the ball. It really shortened my swing up.”
He also eliminated an inward turn from his front shoulder, which he said prevented him from seeing pitches better.
His strategy was to be aggressive, to attack the pitches he thought he would hit hard, and to hit to all fields.
He led the team with a career-high five RBIs during a win over Hanover. Batting fourth in the order, he drilled a three-run homer and drove in runs on a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice.
The homer was his first and came with runners on second and third base.
“He hung the pitch up in the zone, and I hit it dead center,” said Roots, whose four RBIs led the team in two other wins.
Defensively, he finished with a .967 fielding percentage in 211 chances, second most on the team. He had a hand in a team-high 17 double plays.
When he didn’t start at first base, he started in right field because he said there was a need there.
“I definitely played a lot more outfield than I anticipated,” he said.
This summer he is playing for the Syracuse Spartans in the New York Collegiate league. “It’s a really competitive league,” he said.
He started at first base in the opener and hit seventh in the order. He led the team with three RBIs in the 10-0 win, collecting three doubles in five at-bats.