Aldridge, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College and a native of Steens, Miss., is currently hitting a team-high .433 with a home run, 26 RBIs and 24 runs scored. He also leads the team in hits (45), slugging percentage (.558) and on-base percentage (.508), while committing just four errors in the field for a fielding percentage of .960 playing second and third base.
The most impressive part about Aldridge’s season is he has gotten at least one hit in each of DSU’s 26 games. Aldridge’s hitting streak of 26 games is the second longest in school history. Clay Smith recorded a 27-game hitting streak in 2005 to set the record.
Aldridge extended his streak on Wednesday when tagged a RBI-double in the first against Harding. Aldridge ended up going 2-for-3 with a walk in DSU’s 2-1 victory over Harding. Aldridge’ production has been key in DSU holding a number one national ranking with a 22-4 record.
“I’m seeing it good,” Aldridge said after the Harding game. “I put the ball in play good today. The at-bat before the walk, I didn’t swing at good pitches. Probably, one of my bad habits is not getting deep in the count and letting the pitcher make mistakes. Overall on the year, I’ve been swinging the bat well. I’m hoping to keep working at it and taking it one pitch at a time.”
The Caledonia High School graduate said the hitting streak is something that can’t be his main focus.
“I try not to think about that,” Aldridge said. “I just focus on the game and the task at hand. Sometimes, you find yourself thinking about it, and you’ve just got to come back to reality and just take the game and play with fun and compassion. That’s what I do.”
Aldridge’s hot hitting is an extension of the end of last year. In the final 28 games of 2012, Aldridge hit .375 (39-of-104). In the NCAA Division II World Series, he hit .471 (8-for-17) and was key in DSU advancing to the National Championship game. Aldridge finished last year with a .321 batting average with 23 RBIs and 33 runs.
“The first half of the year last season, I wasn’t seeing the ball good and I was barley hitting a hundred,” Aldridge said. “Toward the end of the year, I changed my stance, tried to see the ball more and had a little more rhythm.”
Delta State head baseball coach Mike Kinnison made no bones about how he felt about Aldridge.
“He, to me in my view, turned the corner offensively in the latter part of the season last year,” Kinnison said earlier this week. “Through the postseason play, he was as productive as anyone we had. He hit the good pitching in the regionals and the World Series, and he’s picked up this year right where he left off last year. He’s been that guy that has been there for us everyday offensively.”
Aldridge said the decision to come to Delta State is one that he’ll never regret.
“Coming here was a big commitment and I’m glad I chose DSU,” Aldridge said. “Coach (Mike) Kinnison, coach (Rodney) Batts and all the coaching staff have really developed me over the year and my junior year as well. It’s just changed my outlook on baseball in general. It’s an honor to play for the Statesmen.”
Last year, Aldridge experienced the joy of playing in the national championship game. The Statesmen came up short last year as they lost to West Chester 9-0, finishing the season at 49-15.
“It’s my last year, and we’ve got 11 seniors and pretty much all of them experienced that national championship game,” Aldridge said. “Ever since we’ve lost it’s kind of been under our skin a little bit. We’ve been grinding and working hard. Hopefully, one day we’ll get back where we need to be.”
Aldridge and the rest of the Statesmen are scheduled to return to the diamond on Saturday when the team travels to Huntsville, Ala. to take on the UA-Huntsville Chargers in the first two games of a three game series with the first game set for 3 p.m.