NC State’s Turner approaching school record for stolen bases

csmith@newsobserver.comMarch 7, 2013 

NC State, Appalachian State, baseball

N.C. State's Trea Turner (8) follows through on a hit during N.C. State's 6-3 loss to Appalachian State Friday, February 15, 2013, at Doak Field in Raleigh, N.C.

ETHAN HYMAN — ehyman@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Trea Turner is competitive in, well, just about everything.

Between baseball games, practices and classes, the N.C. State shortstop can be found in his dorm room playing video games with roommates Dillon Frye or Carlos Rodon. When he loses, Frye said, it isn’t pretty.

“When he loses, he’s jumping up and screaming and rubbing it in your face when he wins,” said Frye, a sophomore relief pitcher. “I’ll hear him screaming in his room sometimes when he plays ‘Call of Duty’ … he just always wants to get better and can’t stand losing.”

Turner, a baby-faced sophomore, seems destined for the Major Leagues. He did not appear to be headed toward that path when he signed with the Wolfpack.

Drafted in the 20th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates last June, Turner opted to play alongside a stellar class of freshman. Two in-state players, Rodon and Brett Austin, were the highly-touted players signing with the Wolfpack while Turner was known just for his speed.

That speed, coupled with a .336 batting average, led to a school single-season record 57 stolen bases during his freshman season – which also led the nation. Turner, who is 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts in 2013, has a chance to eclipse the school record of 73 when he reaches 17 steals this season.

“It’s something very special to me,” Turner said of the stolen base record currently held by Tom Sergio, who played from 1994 to 1997. “It’s obviously not something everyone can do. But I’m not there yet, so I’ve still got some work to do.”

While breaking the record is important to Turner, he doesn’t want to just be known for his speed. The Lake Worth, Fla., native spent the offseason working on his approach at the plate to get on base more often.

Through 13 games, he leads the Wolfpack with a .490 batting average with 17 RBIs and 11 extra-base hits, including four home runs.

“At USA, everyone knew me as, ‘The kid who steals all the bases,’ ” Turner said, referring to his tenure with Team USA on the Collegiate National Team last summer. “But just being fast doesn’t always work, you have to be a complete player. You can’t steal a base without getting on base first.

“I want to be known for more than just stealing bases … I think I’m getting there.”

With just eight more stolen bases needed to tie the record, Turner could accomplish the feat this weekend when N.C. State hosts Clemson in the first ACC weekend series of the season.

Though stealing eight bases in one weekend might seem unlikely, Turner tied an ACC record by becoming the sixth player to steal five in a single game – against Clemson.

“I’m looking forward to ACC play because that’s when I got most of my stolen bases last year,” Turner said. “I know they are going to do a lot better job this year because they know what to expect, but if I get my jumps it should all work out in the end.”

Whether it’s video games in his dorm room or torching the base paths against ACC opponents, Turner’s competitive nature might just drive him to being one of the best players to ever don a Wolfpack baseball jersey.

Smith: 919-829-8995; @RCorySmith

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