By Jamie Magone:
If you were asked who is leading all of Division I baseball in batting average, you might immediately start guessing that it’s a player who goes to a school down south like Coastal Carolina or Louisiana State University or out west at the University of Southern California. You would be wrong.
Niagara Universities own Greg Cullen leads all of Division I in batting average, hitting at an outrageous .479 clip. Cullen, who was named to the preseason all-MAAC team, does not let the pressures of awards or success go to his head.
“It’s an honor being named preseason all-MAAC but if you don’t go out there and back it up it means nothing,” says Cullen.
He has certainly backed it up with his play as he leads the MAAC in batting average and hits, and is second in total bases. Niagara has now played 25 games, and teams are certainly taking notice.
“I’ve realized now that teams aren’t throwing me fastballs early in the count. This year I’ve really tried to key in on swinging at good pitches and trying not to get myself out.”
Although Cullen is tearing it up at the plate, he still believes there is room to grow as an all around player as he develops at Niagara.
“You can always work on fielding. Getting repetitions in and working on your footwork are really important,” says Cullen who also adds that on the hitting side he believes that it’s important to stick to his approach and make in-game adjustments and staying even keeled throughout the season.
As for this year’s team, Cullen believes that in his junior season the teams greatest strength is their team chemistry. The team currently sits at 11-14 overall, but hold a positive 4-2 record in MAAC play.
“I really think everyone is pulling for each other. Our lineup is really hot right now and we just have to stay consistent and I think we’ll be successful later in the year.”
An example of the team’s chemistry comes in their EAGLES acronym, standing for Excellence, Accountability, Grit, Love, Energy and Selfless.
“Before each practice one of the guys on the team will have the word of the day that we want to define our legacy,” explains Cullen. “We’re really buying into the mental game that was set forth my freshman year, and I think that has really led to our success.”
When asked about his outlook towards his future after he Graduates from Niagara University, Cullen made it clear that his mind is on the task at hand.
“I’m just trying to keep doing what I’m doing and not look too far into the future. I’m just trying to take it day by day.”
The Purple Eagles next game is on the road on April 13 against Marist College.
Stats are as of April 12, 2018
Stats Via maacsports.com and ncaa.com