STAR-BULLETIN / 2005
Derek Dupree spent the summer working on small ball.
Dupree settles in to battle for CF spot
The sophomore has solid instincts in the field, Trapasso says
Derek Dupree needed time to fit into the Rainbow baseball scheme of things that is necessary to be successful at Les Murakami Stadium.
Recruited out of Shorecrest High School in Seattle, where he earned all-state honors in 2003, Dupree redshirted in 2004.
SAN DIEGO STATE AT HAWAII
When: Today, tomorrow and Friday, 6:35 p.m.; Saturday, 1:05 p.m.
Where: Les Murakami Stadium.
TV: Today and Friday, live, KFVE, Ch. 5
Radio: Today, Friday and Saturday, live, KKEA, 1420-AM
Tickets: $7 orange and blue sections; $6 red section; $5 seniors, and $3 students ages 4-18, UH students in the red section.
"In high school I hit home runs. I was kind of a power guy and it took me a year to figure out that wasn't going to happen here," said Dupree, a sophomore who bats from the left side.
He spent the redshirt year learning how to hit to the opposite field, to spray the ball to all fields and take advantage of the alleys at Murakami Stadium.
Blessed with above-average speed, the coaches worked hard on refining Dupree's bunting ability.
"Bunting was the biggest thing. I didn't bunt often in high school," Dupree said. "If I was in the (batting) cage and tried to hit home runs, the coaches kicked me out. It worked.
"John Hee helped me a lot, gave me a lot of advice (on bunting). He comes from Mid-Pac and they are very fundamental."
He began last year as a spot player, pinch running and pinch hitting with an occasional start in center field.
"The first half of the season, if I had a bad game, I knew I probably wouldn't play the next day," Dupree said.
He felt comfortable with his game, but didn't break into the starting lineup until Greg Kish was sidelined with an injury.
"I knew it was up to me to perform. I had to step it up. It put a lot of pressure on me, but it was my job. I was going to be out there even if I had a bad game or two," Dupree said.
He appeared in 38 games with 25 starts in center field, hit .275 and played very solid defense.
"Derek has speed, but that
is not why he is such a good outfielder. It's his instincts and how he reads the ball off the bat. It is one of those things you cannot teach," said Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso.
"It is almost like he takes his first step before the ball leaves the bat. He is not our fastest runner, but he is an above-average runner. I think he is the best defensive center fielder in our league.
"Derek is still working on his stroke, but swings well when he is aggressive. He has made himself a good bunter."
Dupree played for the Bellingham Bells in the West Coast Collegiate League last summer. He did well the first half, but struggled toward the end.
"I kind of cooled off. I was taking two summer classes over the Internet. There was no connection where I was staying so I had to drive an hour and a half to get home everyday to take care of classes."
He got back on track in fall practice and is battling senior Robbie Wilder for the starting job in center.
Dupree was recruited as a pitcher by Long Beach State, made an unofficial visit there and to Washington, but said his decision was easy after his official visit to the Manoa campus.
"When I came here, I liked everything, the atmosphere and especially the weather," Dupree said. "It was a program where I knew I could be a big part and help the team win."
A sociology major, he hasn't decided on a career, but wants to so something in sports and may switch to journalism.
He says he tries not to be superstitious, something baseball players are known for, but if he senses he is doing something in a pattern and things are not going well, he will stop.
If the reverse is true and things are going well, Dupree says he won't stop.
"It won't hurt anything," he said.