Familiar name fortifies Lions
Rusty Hensel Signs with SAGU
Power-hitter could meet need for clout
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Head Coach Jonathan Shockley addressed one of his essential offseason needs when Russell Hensel signed a letter of intent to play baseball for Southwestern Assemblies of God University.
He is the younger brother of Riley, who anchored down the third base position for the Lions in recent years. “Rusty” transferred to SAGU from Dallas Christian College.
At 5’11 and well over 200, the sophomore represents President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous quote, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Securing a power-hitter is on Coach Shockley’s summer “bucket list.”
Hensel, who enjoyed a standout prep career at nearby Maypearl High School, hit a robust .364 (24 of 66) at Dallas Christian as a freshman last season. The numbers he hung his hat on, however, related to his clout.
He swatted four home runs, equaling the Lions’ entire team total in 2012. The big guy drove in 19 runs, one every 3.4 at bats, which would have led SAGU. Hensel’s slugging percentage was .590. The Lions' team average was .347.
A longball threat helps to keep opposing outfielders honest. Yielding ground for those who give the rawhide a joyride translates into more openings for singles hitters to do as Wee Willie Keeler once said. The Hall of Famer of the late 1890’s said his trick for getting so many base hits was to “hit ‘em where they ain’t.”
“I really look forward to having Rusty as a player in this organization,” stated Coach Shockley. “He will bring more power to our lineup. He figures to be a big asset to this team.”
He primarily played first base and designated hitter, though he has plenty of experience at third.
Hensel was chosen First Team All-District 15 (Class 2A) at third base during his sophomore, junior and senior years, the latter included being named the Panthers' Most Valuable Player.
“Rusty can hit and can play the corners,” Shockley added.
He will battle for playing time while his presence will likely add competition to improve the performance of the five returning players who split time at first.
The squad hit .284, ranking fourth in the Red River Athletic Conference. They toiled to hit with men in scoring position, hence the need for clutch-hitters and muscle at the plate.
The Dallas Christian Crusaders and SAGU are teams that enjoy friendly relations. Hensel helped the ‘Saders split four games in the spring. Head Coach Denny Dixon’s team (24-36 record in 2012) took the middle games with a 6-1 win and a come from behind 5-4 triumph. The Lions rolled to 3-1 and 15-2 victories in the first and fourth meetings.
Over the past three seasons the Lions and Riley Hensel own a 7-6 edge in the series. Now Rusty has followed his brother SAGU where he plans to major in business management.
He plans to “work very hard to reach my goals,” he said of Southwestern. “I'm excited to start this new chapter in my college career.”is much
"SAGU is closer to home," Hensel explained his reasoning for transferring. "I have friends going there. It seems like a really nice place to attend school when I visited. (I believe) Coach Shockley is going to turn the program around."
Born in Dallas, Rusty is one of two sons born to parents Ronald and Mary.
About SAGU baseball
SAGU is a dual Division I member in both the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA).
Starting in September, the team’s annual fall camp begins. It ends with a week-long World Series of games between the players. The Lions’ new on-campus ballpark will be ready for the start of camp.
The team has played their first 12 years across town at the Waxahachie Sports Complex. Next season, which commences in January of 2013, SAGU will literally play their home games ‘at home.’
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