CCU Male Athlete of Month: May leads way to regionals

Coastal Carolina baseball center fielder Jacob May is securely focused on the present for CCU and a possible run the NCAA Regionals, but his family legacy has him hopeful for a future in the major leagues.

That drive helped him earn the nod for Coastal Carolina Male Athlete of the Month from the Hampton Inn & Suites Oceanfront Myrtle Beach Resorts, given through Grand Strand Sports Report.

For three generations in the May household, baseball has been played at a very high level, and for Jacob May, Coastal Carolina centerfielder, he hopes to continue the tradition on past college.

“I definitely want to play after college. It has always been a dream to play in the majors,” said May. “For now, I would love to help Coastal Carolina win and have a chance at the College World Series.”

His dream would make him at least a third generation baseball player in the majors, as his grandfather Lee May once played for the Orioles, Royals and Reds. His father, Lee May, Jr. played with the Mets.

“I’ve always grown up around baseball,” May said of his love for the game. “When I grew up, I used to hang around with the (big league)team.”

It was only natural for him to strive to be his best following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. May really had a desire to learn that skill.

“My dad coached in the minors with the Indians. When he played he was a switch-hitter. Dad would have me practice because he knew it would help,” added May. “When I first started, I would have to take 500 swings left-handed to start to feel natural.”

Whether it was playing as an all-state standout at Lakota West High School when he lived in Liberty Township, OH, or as he took to the field at Coastal, May said that he has learned a number of skills from different coaching staffs.

“I just stuck with it (switch-hitting), and I was able to develop the skill. I had great coaches when I was young, and throughout high school and college,” added May.

Despite a 4-8 start to the season, the junior outfielder was never dismayed and it has paid off late in the season.

Some of the early losses came at No. 1 North Carolina, 7-1; home against Kentucky, 8-2; a close 8-7 loss to Elon; an 8-3 defeat at home to San Diego; a disappointing 9-1 loss to No. 12 Indiana at home. They suffered a close loss to No. 7 North Carolina State, 5-4 in 10 innings; and losses to Furman, 4-1 and 11-6.

“We started off a little slow, but we stayed confident and we really wanted to back up each other,” May said. “We tried to stay positive and just move on to the next game.”

“The competition has been really tough. It benefited us because it has helped us as players. Good competition forces us to do so,” he added. “We have to get better every day and learn from our mistakes.”

That competition level had them playing twice against the top-ranked Tar Heels of North Carolina. They played host to nationally ranked Kansas State and Kentucky in February. The Hoosiers and the Wolfpack, along with Florida Atlantic came to the beach in March to take on the Chanticleers.

CCU twice did battle with the Seahawks of UNC Wilmington, who are ranked in the nation. The Chants swept eventual Big South Tournament Champion Liberty to start April. CCU also took two-of-three from nationally ranked Georgia Tech this season.

Coastal has played 10 opponents this season that are in the field of 64 teams playing in the NCAA Regionals. (They have played UNC, Florida Atlantic, Liberty, NCSU, San Diego, Kansas State, Elon, UNCW, Indiana and Georgia Tech). UNC, NCSU and Indiana are all No. 1 seeds and hosts in its respective regional.

This season, Coastal has played 15 teams ranked in the top 75, and eight teams ranked in the top 35.

They were successful playing their own style of baseball throughout the 2013 season – by playing small-ball and getting on the base paths when needed and getting timely hitting. May, a bunt specialist and speedster on the base paths, played a major role in getting the Chants’ offense kick-started.

“Small-ball is a big part of our game. We need to make the outs when we get them, and we have to take advantage of our opponents and base-running chances on offense,” said May. “All of our pitchers and everyone on the bench has been coming through. Everyone knows their role.”

May has found a great deal of success at the plate this season, as he is batting .321 with 209 at-bats. He has started and played in 57 games for CCU. May has scored 40 runs and tallied 67 hits. That number includes 11 doubles, two triples and six home runs, to go along with 29 RBIs. He has had a career best 100 bases this season. He has also has a career high 12 hit-by-pitches in 2013.

In the field, May has totaled 118 put-outs, seven assists, and he has a .984 fielding percentage.

Playing for Coastal and the Chanticleer coaching staff, May and the team take the opportunity very serious, and they want to play as a team and win as a team.

“It is kind of a standard that we hold ourselves too. We have a group of scrappy, hard-nosed players that take pride in winning. We play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back. It helps with our senior class,” said May about CCU. “Our team chemistry gets better and it helps with us having a positive attitude. It is kind of a standard that we hold ourselves to at Coastal (with success, hard work and dedication).

They are hopeful that that winning tradition will continue on Friday when Coastal Carolina takes on Oklahoma at 1 p.m. in the Virginia Tech Regional in Blacksburg, VA. Virginia Tech and Liberty make up the other two teams at the regional. The winner of the double elimination tournament moves ahead to the Super Regional.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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