MERRILLVILLE | As the baseball season started, Andrean's David Cox was told he'd be a backup on multiple positions on the field.
"I always told him he'd finish ballgames for us, wherever that might be," Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said. "His role at the beginning of the year was in the sixth and seventh inning, maybe the fifth. If you get in the sixth inning, you'd get that one at-bat."
Injuries hit the 59ers and when Cox turned from a backup to a starter for one game, the senior jumped at his chance to crack the lineup for good.
"I took the chance I got and kept going with it," Cox said. "I had to hustle at practice even more, show Coach I'm even more dedicated and show that I deserve a spot on the field to play for him. He trusts me at first base and I trust him as a coach."
Cox will start at first base as the 59ers meet Gibson Southern for the Class 3A state championship on Saturday at Victory Field.
The senior's biggest hangup was his hitting. His defense was never a problem, but his offense kept his coach from making him permanently a starter.
"Coach said he wished my offense was as good as my defense," Cox said. "My offense wasn't paying off because I was striking out. I was a senior and I wanted to play so bad and I didn't like sitting down so I wanted to step my game up."
Due to the early-season replacement role, Cox doesn't have as many at-bats has the other starters on the team. Of his 49 plate appearances, Cox has 16 hits with 16 runs, good for a .327 average.
"He's a guy that once he got into the lineup, he wasn't coming out and he's a mainstay at first base for us," Pishkur said. "It's always an advantage to have a left-handed first baseman, and he can make plays that others can't make and he's really done a good job offensively for us. I don’t know that he's overachieved, but he's made some changes in his swing to be successful and even though the swing might not be the prettiest in the world, he makes up for it with eye-hand coordination and competitiveness."
Cox has translated it into a chance to play at Franklin College in the fall. He'll head to the Division III school with plans to major in computer engineering and hopes to become a game developer.
"He's such a competitive kid that he's done a good job offensively for us, too," Pishkur said. "That's one of the things we said, just keep working hard as a player, because you can control that aspect. You can't control the lineup, if you're going to be in it. Where some kids just can't handle that, David was one who came every day as a player and when the opportunity came about, he took advantage of it."