FIU second baseman Eddie Silva hit just four homers, combined, in his first three collegiate seasons, including last year, when he was limited to 13 games because of elbow surgery.
This year, he leads Conference USA with 15 homers. He has homered in three games in a row, and his hot streak has led FIU to a season-best four-game win streak.
“Eddie has worked hard in the weight room and in his approach at the plate,” FIU coach Mervyl Melendez said. “He’s more mature in making adjustments.”
Brad Eldred holds FIU’s single-season homer record with 29 in 2002, but Silva has a legit shot at passing Edwin Rios for fourth place. Rios hit 18 homers in 2015.
FIU, which swept host Western Kentucky this past weekend, has evened its record at 25-25 overall and has moved to 14-12 in league play.
The Panthers have also clinched a berth in the C-USA postseason tournament, which starts May 23 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Melendez credits catcher Javier Valdes, Silva at second and shortstop Derek Cartaya for solidifying FIU up the middle, defensively and offensively.
“Javi has done a magnificent job with the pitching staff,” Melendez said after freshman Logan Allen tossed eight scoreless innings on Sunday. “Qualifying for the league tournament was our first goal, and I like the way we’re playing.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ At Houston this past weekend, FIU finished fifth in the C-USA women’s track championships. Clarissa Cutliff won her third straight league outdoor high jump title. Gabrielle Rains (discus) and Terrisa Russell (hammer) also won C-USA titles, and Asha James finished second in the javelin.
▪ Two FIU football players signed last week as undrafted NFL free agents: inside linebacker Anthony Wint with the New York Jets and tight end Pharoah McKeever with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Jets did not draft a linebacker this year, giving Wint a decent shot at making the roster as a backup and a special-teamer.
Similarly, McKeever is the Steelers’ only rookie tight end, and he could fit behind starter Jesse James and reserve Vance McDonald. McKeever would have to beat out Xavier Grimble and Jake McGee, both of whom have thin resumes.
▪ FIU’s women’s tennis team finished its season 17-3, with two losses to Central Florida. FIU beat Rice to earn its first Conference USA title but then lost 4-3 on Friday to No.22 UCF in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Three of FIU’s seven players this season were listed as seniors, including its star, Andrea Lazaro, who ranks No. 13 nationally.
▪ FIU’s softball team, which set a school record last year with a 46-15 record and earned an NCAA Tournament bid, ended its 2018 season on a down note last week.
FIU (31-24) lost 4-0 to Charlotte in the Conference USA opener and failed to make the NCAA field. The Panthers’ bright spot was sophomore pitcher Shannon Saile, who broke FIU’s strikeout record and made first-team all-league along with junior outfielder Jackie Schoff and senior first baseman Kasandra Castle.