ROSEMONT, Ill. - After driving in the go-ahead run in three of Purdue baseball’s five wins on the spring break trip, Skyler Hunter has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
As the Boilermakers’ starting center fielder in all five games last week, Hunter put together 14 productive plate appearances in his 23 trips to the dish. He was 7-for-16 with two doubles, two walks, a hit by pitch, three sacrifice flies and a sac bunt. He hit safely in all five games, scored four times and drove in eight runs for the week. With a runner on third base and less than two outs, he drove in that runner in all six of his opportunities.
Hunter joins Tanner Andrews (two-time Pitcher of the Week) as Boilermakers to be recognized by the Big Ten conference office this season. Andrews was another strong candidate for Pitcher of the Week after striking out a career-high 10 over 7 2/3 shutout innings in Purdue’s game two win at Santa Clara.
Hunter is the first Boilermaker to win Big Ten Freshman of the Week since Harry Shipley was recognized in May 2015. Hunter shared the award with Maryland’s Tyler Blohm this week. Blohm struck out eight over seven shutout innings vs. Princeton on Sunday.
An infielder as a high school state champion at Hood River Valley in Oregon, Hunter has made the transition to center fielder at Purdue. He really hit his stride on Purdue’s eight-game spring break trip in California, playing flawless defense in center while batting a team-best .444 (12-for-27). Last week, he delivered the go-ahead RBI in Monday’s win at Cal State Northridge and in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader sweep at Santa Clara.
Hunter put together a long at-bat and eventually broke a 7-7 tie with a sac fly in the ninth inning of the game three win at Santa Clara, which clinched Purdue’s first series victory in a four-game set since February 2011. In the nightcap, he delivered a three-run double with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. He also broke a 2-2 tie with a sac fly in the sixth inning of Monday's win at CSUN.
Hunter has hit safely in every game of each of Purdue’s three four-game series this season. Four-game series have not been as common since the Big Ten switched from four- to three-game conference weekends beginning in 2009, but he’s the first Boilermaker to accomplish the feat since 2008 nonetheless.
Hunter enters the week ranked third in batting average (.392) and 11th in on-base percentage (.443) among the Big Ten leaders. Teammates Dalton Parker (.133 batting average against), Evan Warden (14 hit by pitch) and Andrews (4 wins) lead the league entering the first weekend of conference play.
The Boilermakers begin midweek play Wednesday at Ball State and travel to Iowa this weekend for Big Ten action. First pitch Wednesday in Muncie is set for 3 p.m. ET.