11/25/2015 7:11 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – November 25, 2015 – If there’s one thing that stands out to Eastern Illinois coach Jason Anderson about freshman infielder Jimmy Govern, it’s that he doesn’t take losing particularly well.
When the calendar reaches late May, Govern will bring that refuse-to-lose mentality with him to Oil City Stadium when he suits up as a member of the Midwest Collegiate League’s Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
“I hate losing at anything,” Govern said. “It came from growing up with travel ball because I’ve played with the same kids since I was 5 years old. Even board games, I hate losing. Sometimes, I’m too hard on myself, but I think the competitive edge I have is the thing that makes me the player that I am.”
That player is one that was named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team following his senior season at Libertyville. That accolade was one that he set his sights on when he started playing baseball.
Another highlight of Govern’s prep tenure was his team’s state championship appearance his sophomore year, when Libertyville fell to Mount Carmel 2-1.
“I’ve always dreamed about that, and it didn’t really hit me until the first inning started and I was like, ‘Oh my God, there’s like 2,000 people here,’” Govern said. “It was fun. It was definitely a great experience, and I’m not afraid to play in an environment like that anymore.”
In high school Govern primarily manned the shortstop position, but he has added second base and third base to his defensive arsenal.
“One of my strengths as a player is definitely my fielding,” Govern said. “I work my butt off on fielding all the time. I’m always taking extra ground balls.”
Anderson hopes to see Govern become more comfortable at third base, so he’ll be taking reps at the hot corner between now and the start of the Panthers’ season.
“Jimmy is an all-around ballplayer,” Anderson said. “He’s versatile and he’s excellent on defense. He has good bat speed. He’s going to be able to hit with a little bit of pop and average. He can run a little bit. He’s really the type of player that we’re looking for to come into our program.”
Govern is currently working on making the adjustment to facing college pitching. Fall baseball helped him realize that pitchers do not let hitters get away with much in the collegiate ranks. Instead, he knows that he needs a good approach and plan every time he steps up to the plate.
Anderson is in his first year in charge of a program that is looking to bounce back from a 13-36 season. A young group, which has its sights set on an Ohio Valley Conference championship, has been put through a rigorous training schedule to introduce the players to the demands of college baseball.
“It’s been a grind,” Govern said. “Coming in, I knew it was going to be a grind, but the workouts we do have just been tearing us up. They make us stronger, maybe not strength-wise, but mentally stronger. It was hard to adjust to at first with all of the time management, but I’ve got better at it, so that’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it.”