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Back in the swing of things: A year after a knee injury cut his season short, Elyria's Marques Inman is thriving at West Virginia

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    West Virginia redshirt sophomore Marques Inman, an Elyria High grad, is batting .347 with six home runs, 18 doubles and 37 RBIs this season.

    PHOTO COURTESY WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

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A promising start by West Virginia’s Marques Inman was cut short last season because of a torn left ACL.

It’s a new year, but the Mountaineers first baseman and Elyria High graduate has picked up right where he left off.

The redshirt sophomore is hitting .347 with six home runs, 18 doubles and 37 RBIs for the 24-21 Mountaineers.

Turns out the key to his comeback was just to relax.

“I’m just trying to have fun,” Inman said recently. “At the beginning of the year, I started struggling a little bit and I started to press and get down on myself. But I talked to my dad and he told me to just relax and enjoy the game, have fun with it. Once I started doing that, I started getting the results I was used to.”

Inman started the first 16 games in 2017 and was leading the team with a .351 batting average and a .544 slugging percentage.

He had 20 hits, two home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs to that point and looked poised for a breakout season.

But fate had different plans. While hustling down to first on a dropped third strike, the catcher’s throw crossed up the first baseman, causing Inman to avoid the fielder. In making his cut, his left knee gave out.

He underwent surgery to repair his ACL two weeks later, and then spent long months in the offseason getting back to full strength. Inman said it took about five months before he started to trust his knee again. And while he’s apprehensive about it at times, he hasn’t had to adjust his game.

“The knee injury affected some of my ability to move laterally,” Inman said. “I’d say definitely defense, that was my biggest worry coming into this year.”

So far, it hasn’t been a problem. He sports a .965 fielding percentage with eight errors.

Offensively, he’s been consistent while also showing the ability to catch fire. He had three home runs in three games during one stretch and had at least one RBI in 10 of 11 games during another.

Once he’s locked in, he’s hard to get out.

“The mindset is key,” Inman said. “You can’t go out there and just play the game anymore. You have to act like it’s high school, have fun with it, but know its college. You have to take care of business. If you miss a play, you’re done, it can cost you the game. That’s just how college is. In high school you might be able to make a mistake and still get a win, but in college everything is amplified.”

As for the team, the Mountaineers had won four straight before dropping the last two games of a three-game series at Kansas. The losses came after a 21-3 win in Friday’s series opener in which Inman went 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs.

Though the Mountaineers are 7-11 in the Big 12, Inman remains optimistic the team can make a push.

“I think we can do a lot this year,” Inman said. “We’re all starting to click again. Pitchers are starting to pitch together and we’re starting to hit. I definitely think we’re capable of getting out there this year and making some noise.”

Contact Chris Sweeney at 440-329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com and follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.


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