Servite’s Jarrod Hocking opens senior season with stellar play

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Jarrod Hocking’s arms are thick as a linebacker even though he hasn’t played football since freshman year.

“At Servite, we definitely take care of that in the weight room,” said the 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior center fielder.

Confirmed baseball coach Shawn Gilbert: “He loves the weight room.”

With those strong arms, quick feet, and amazing hand-eye coordination, Hocking found baseball was the perfect fit for him. He entered this week batting .437 with 17 hits, nine RBIs and six extra hits as the leading hitter through 11 games for the Friars.

He comes from a family where the sport is revered and enjoyed 365 days a year. His father, Denny, was a major leaguer for 13 years. His mother, Venetta, played basketball at Cypress College. Her twin sisters, Penelope and Ilianawere football players at USC and Arizona, respectively, and set the stage for their little brother to follow with passion and dedication.

“It feeds me,” he said of his family’s sporting success. “They said, ‘We did this, we did that.’ It makes me excited. It makes me want to compete. »

Coming to UCLA, Hocking should have gotten ribs from USC’s sister Penelope, right?

“She just said, ‘Don’t date anyone on the UCLA football team.’ Those are his only words,” he said.

He credits his dad for teaching him baseball lessons, but insisted that Denny likes to hang back.

“I’ve worked with him a lot over the years, understanding my body and the mental side of competition,” he said. “He’s still watching.”

If there’s one trait that should come in handy as Hocking climbs the athletic ranks, it’s his ability to treat pressure moments as just another moment.

“I’m never nervous,” he said.

That means he’s the ideal player to be at the plate on a 3 and 2 count with a game in play.

UCLA coach John Savage said, “Jarrod impacts the game with his bat and plays elite defense. He has a tremendous baseball pedigree and a very bright future.

Gilbert said the search for fly balls was where Hocking had a huge impact on the brothers. “It’s just amazing,” he said. “He covers more ground than any we’ve had. Against Santa Margarita, he managed a saving catch while diving.

Last year was tough for Hocking due to a hamstring injury that limited his effectiveness. He spent months focusing on getting to a level of health that would allow him to show what kind of player he is when nothing is holding him back.

It’s happening this season.

“I’m playing to the best of my abilities right now,” he said, “100 per cent.”

Speed ​​is a big part of his game, whether it’s running bases, batting ground balls or roaming the outfield.

Growing up, he played several sports. He would attend his sisters’ practices and matches, learning what it takes to succeed at a high level.

At 18, he’s a teenager who knows which way to go and it’ll be fun to see the impact he makes along the way.

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