Game after game, Cody Henry keeps finding things to work on. There’s always something else to work on in practice.
The University of Alabama first baseman earned praise for his improved defense in 2016. Now in his junior year, he’s having his best season at the plate in his career.
“We go to practice every day, and I can tell what my weakness is from the past games,” Henry said. “When we get to drills, I try to work at that specifically. Just work hard at one thing, and then the other things too. But specifically what I struggled with in the last game.”
The results from 2016 showed Henry what he needed to work on once the season was over. His batting average dipped from .276 as a freshman to .223 as a sophomore. The 6-2, 232-pound first baseman was also still searching for his first career home run.
His average is back to .282 this season, and he’s blasted seven home runs – second on the team. His .489 slugging percentage is also second on the team, and he’s tied for second with 23 RBIs. On Tuesday night, he had his first grand slam and his first game with multiple homers, driving in seven runs in an 18-1 win over Alcorn State.
“I can’t say enough about this guy. His hands have calluses,” head coach Greg Goff said after the game. “He was in the cages this weekend, had a good weekend. I knew when I came out and threw BP to him today, I was like ‘That swing’s really tight. It’s going to be good today, Cody. It’s going to be good.’ He just took it to the game.”
He’s also continued to provide staid defense at first base. After posting just one error in all of 2016, he has none this year. Henry has helped Alabama turn 38 double plays, second most in the conference.
Even when the season finishes in May, Henry isn’t done finding ways to get better. He’s spent the last two summers playing for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the Cape Cod Baseball League in summer. The Cape Cod league is usually considered the top level of competition among collegiate summer leagues.
“I could compare (the pitching) to SEC Friday night guys,” Henry said. “Saturday night guys, too. They throw it. You see everything in the SEC, and you play a whole bunch of different teams and different pitchers. You have to adjust pitch-to-pitch.”
The extra two months of games makes a difference in the development for college players in the Cape Cod league. Players like Henry can go from the end of their college seasons and keep playing, then take that progress back to practice on campus in the fall.
That’s served Henry well so far. He’s moved into the heart of Alabama’s batting order in recent games with the injury to junior Hunter Alexander. The move paid off on Tuesday when he batted fifth.
“His hard work is paying off. Continuing to work defensively,” Goff said. “He’s going to have to drive runs. For us to win on the weekend, Chandler (Taylor) and those guys, the middle-of-the-order guys, they have to be RBI guys.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.
Alabama at No. 15 Mississippi State
Schedule: Thursday at 6:00 p.m., Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m.
Where: Dudy Noble Field in Starkville, Miss.
Records: Alabama 15-23 (2-13 SEC), Texas A&M 25-14 (10-5 SEC)
TV: SEC Network (Thursday only)
Radio: 102.9 FM