Kent becoming a key cog for Cavaliers

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Nic Kent has tried to keep things simple during his first college baseball season at Virginia.

"My approach is to work hard and get better every day," the first-year second baseman said after driving in two runs on a pair of hits -- including his second college home run -- in UVA's 6-3 win at home against Radford Tuesday night.

That approach has paid off for Kent, the St. Anne's-Belfield product who has overcome a slow start to his college career to become a key contributor to the Cavaliers' lineup.

Those two hits on Tuesday night raised Kent's batting average to .331 for his freshman season. That's second behind shortstop Tanner Morris, a Miller School graduate who is hitting .344 on the year, among UVA players with at least 100 at-bats.

Take away the 0-for-10 performance in Kent's first three games in a UVA uniform and his batting average goes up to .360.

UVA head coach Brian O'Connor credits Kent's makeup for the way he has improved through the Cavaliers' first 38 games.

"I think he's got a lot of talent, but I also believe, most importantly, he comes to the ballpark every day ready to play," O'Connor said. "He doesn't take days off. He puts bad at-bats behind him and he's ready for the next day."

Kent has been UVA's starting second baseman for all but four of their games this spring. After starting the season near the bottom of the batting order, he has been in the No. 2 spot for the past 13 games. Kent's 31 RBI and three triples both lead the Wahoos, while his 10 stolen bases are tied with fellow first-year Zack Gelof for most on the team.

O'Connor has been praising Kent's speed since he arrived from STAB last fall. O'Connor is also a fan of the athleticism Kent brings to second base, where he has just two errors and a .986 fielding percentage on the season.

Kent and the Cavaliers open a crucial three-game ACC series against Florida State on Thursday at Disharoon Park. Virginia sits in a tie for fourth place in the Coastal Division with Duke, at 8-10 in conference play; at 10-8, the Seminoles are alone in fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

"It was definitely hard at first playing against new competition, better competition," Kent said on Tuesday night. "But I think I've acclimated pretty well so far."

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