University of Miami

Jacob Heyward ready to emerge for UM baseball team

UM’s Jacob Heyward celebrates a go-ahead run against Arkansas in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Monday, June 15, 2015.
UM’s Jacob Heyward celebrates a go-ahead run against Arkansas in the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Monday, June 15, 2015. AP

While his brother is on his way to earning about a quarter of a billion dollars playing baseball, Jacob Heyward labors in relative obscurity with the Miami Hurricanes.

But Canes coach Jim Morris said Heyward, whose brother Jason recently signed a $184 million contract with the Chicago Cubs, is expected to be Miami’s starting left fielder and clean-up hitter this upcoming season.

Heyward, a 6-3, 200-pound junior, has overcome a slow start to his career. He hit just .205 with no homers as a freshman, starting just 11 games.

Last season, he started 22 games and hit .327 with four homers and seven steals, and Morris gives at least partial credit to Heyward’s support system.

“He comes from a very close, religious family,” Morris said. “Jason comes down to watch his brother when he can. Their parents come down here all the time, and that’s important.”

Morris said he called Heyward into his office early last season because he was concerned that Jacob might be losing confidence since he wasn’t getting many at-bats and he wasn’t producing when he did receive opportunities.

“He said, ‘Coach, I’m fine. I will be ready when you call my name,’ ” Morris said. “It’s rare to hear a player say something like that.

“Jacob picked it up — the ball jumps off his bat. The secret will be making consistent contact.”

Miami’s season-opening series is set for Feb. 19-21 at home against Rutgers. Other highlights on the home schedule include a Feb. 26-28 visit from Florida and a March 18-20 series against Louisville.

And here’s more good news for Canes baseball fans: Miami’s recruiting class for the 2017 season is ranked eighth in the nation.

THIS AND THAT

▪ For the fourth year in a row, ex-Palmer Trinity star Paulina Prieto has made it to the NCAA women’s volleyball Final Four — and she has done this with two different schools. On Saturday, she will try to win her second national championship, this time with Texas.

Prieto, a redshirt junior, spent two years at Penn State and now two at Texas. A 6-foot-2 outside hitter, Prieto started seven matches in 2013 when Penn State won the title. This year, she was a first-team All-Big 12 player and made the Austin Region all-tournament team. Her Texas team beat Minnesota in a semifinal on Thursday.

In Saturday night’s final, the third-seeded Longhorns will take on No. 4 Nebraska in Omaha.

▪ Ex-Canes linebacker Gionni Paul, now a senior at Utah, has emerged as a pro prospect. He had a game this season against Washington in which he had nine tackles, two sacks, one interception and a 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

▪ Canes baseball star Zach Collins has a very tall namesake; 6-foot-11 senior Zach Collins, a Gonzaga recruit who is on a Las Vegas Bishop Gorman prep team that has won four straight state basketball titles in Nevada.

▪ St. Thomas University’s Michael Walker, a 6-4 junior guard, leads the team with a 19.6 scoring average, including a 42-point game. He is making 41 percent on three-pointers and 91 percent on free throws. He set a school record with eight three-pointers in a game.

▪ Ex-Barry University golfer Adam Svensson, who earned more than $200,000 in his first year as a pro, has won a permanent place on the Web.com Tour throughout the upcoming season.

▪ Barry men’s basketball star Yunio Barrueta had an 18-rebound game last weekend, four shy of the school record.

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