BALTIMORE – Coppin State junior designated hitter Darien Percell has been in beast mode in more ways than one lately.
First, he showcased a sense of humor when being interviewed earlier this week for this preview by answering the first question with Marshawn Lynch’s response that went viral from Super Bowl media day, “I am just here so I won’t get fined.”
Hey, when a team is struggling through an unexpectedly tough season, laughing and joking can be therapeutic. Percell has been one of the bright spots this season for the Coppin State baseball team.
Percell has been at his best and in beast mode at the plate.
“Darien has demonstrated more plate discipline,” Coppin State head coach Sherman Reed said. “He’s always had the ability to be a first team all-conference performer, but he never let the game come to him. Now, he’s taking what the opposition has given him in the form of walks. He’s been a real good hitter for us.”
A computer science major, Percell enters this weekend’s home series against first-place Maryland Eastern Shore at Joe Cannon Stadium with a career best nine-game hitting streak.
The month of April offers an opportunity for Coppin State to leap back into MEAC Northern Division playoff contention. However, Percell and the Eagles understand that they must begin taking baby steps to reach their goal.
“We have to focus on each game, inning, and pitch,” Percell said. “It’s nice to be able to finally play at home. However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you play because we have to play better as a team. We just have to take everything one game at a time. Realistically, if we keep playing the way we are, we aren’t going to make it. Everybody is still positive.”
Percell has been doing everything in his power to help Coppin State. During his nine-game hitting streak in which Coppin State is averaging 8.1 runs per game, Percell has posted a .400 batting average (10-for-25). Five of hits have gone for extra bases (three doubles and two triples). He is one of three Eagles with at least eight RBIs over that span. George Dragon and Jack Kraft are the others.
Percell has complemented his hitting with amazing patience, drawing six walks during that span. For the season, Percell has three multi-hit games along with a .317 batting average, which is second on the team. Being a designated hitter comes with challenges during the game because Percell is not in the field. He has to stay sharp and hit, which is hard. Percell also threw a scoreless 10-pitch inning against Wofford.
“You find ways to stay involved in the game by cheering for my team when they’re on defense,” Percell. “Ultimately, I focus on what’s best for the team and stay ready. Coach (Geoff) Kimbel has helped with me hitting-wise and coach (Sherman) Reed’s confidence in me as well as helped. I’ve been going back to the basics at the plate, putting in extra work and it’s helped because I am seeing the ball better.”
Playing Division I baseball, a hop, skip and a jump from where Percell started playing baseball at Pikesville Recreation is special. The huge Orioles fan began playing the sport when he was 5 years old. He has been hooked ever since.
Percell’s road to everyday producer in the lineup hasn’t always been smooth. He experienced some adversity and along with a reminder how much of a privilege it is to represent Coppin State. The Eagles opened the 2015 season in Jacksonville without him.
“That put things into perspective and made me realize that I need to focus,” Percell said. “It was hard watching them in Florida especially with the nice weather. I remember just wanting to play that whole weekend. It definitely means a lot to me playing Division I ball here.”