Jacob Priday is struggling.
The only problem is, he’s not sure what the problem is. He is entering his junior season as a leader on the young Missouri (17-5) team. He’s respected and relied upon by his teammates. He has recovered well from offseason surgery. He has been a Freshman All-American, a first team All-Big 12 Conference selection, and a cornerstone of the Tiger lineup since he joined the team in 2005.
If you ask Missouri coach Tim Jamieson, there’s really nothing tangible wrong with Priday.
But, something is wrong. Just look at his numbers this season. After gaining achievement, awards, acclaim in 2005 and 2006 as one of the Big 12 Conference’s best power hitters, Priday is now batting .215 and hovering near the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup. He’s played left field a little, but has struggled and most often is now listed at designated hitter. In a word, he’s slumping.
“It’s hard going through a slump,” he said after going 0-for-4 in Missouri’s 9-2 win over Cleveland State (2-13) on Saturday night. It was Missouri’s 11th win in a row and the Tigers are now 9-0 at home.
“In baseball, if you succeed 3 out of 10 times, you’re a good player,” Priday said. “So you fail a majority of the time, and you’ve got to go in knowing that.”
Jamieson is aware of how difficult it can be to overcome a mental block. The coach said his strategy is one of quiet encouragement rather than complicated advice.
“(The best thing to do is) just pat him on the back,” he said. “I think the less thoughts he has right now, the better off he is.”
Priday said he has had to go back to the basics of his swing in order to improve his performance.
Despite Saturday’s setback, he has slowly been working his numbers back up from where they were in recent weeks, when his batting average briefly dropped below .190.
Senior leadoff hitter Evan Frey, who is batting .328, said that slumps are unavoidable.
“(Priday) might not be getting the results he wants, but that’s how it starts,” Frey said. “First, you start hitting it right at guys, and then eventually you’ll start finding holes.”