VIRGINIA LOTTERY PLAYER OF THE WEEK: CODY ACKER

VCU's historic run to Atlantic 10 and NCAA regional championships in 2015 were monumental achievements, but the Rams are out to prove they're no one-hit wonder. The Rams are off to a good start in that regard. VCU is 16-8 and opened its A-10 title defense with a three-game sweep of St. Bonaventure last weekend. One of the driving forces behind VCU's early success has been senior outfielder and first baseman Cody Acker. The left-handed hitting Acker, who is majoring in business management, has been a source of a number of clutch hits and leads the Rams with 17 RBIs while hitting better than .280.

Cody, You've been playing well. You've almost surpassed your RBI total from last season and it's not even April.
I had a good summer in the New England league, so I just remained confident, stuck to my approach, worked with Coach [Kurt] Elbin a lot. I've been getting to the field early and just working on just doing the same routine that's been working. Guys are getting on base and luckily, I don't strike out too much, and I've been able to get guys in and get us leads.
 
Is there anybody you model your game after or looked up to as a kid?
I would say, modeled after, Jacoby Ellsbury. Left-handed hitter, left-handed thrower, outfielder, even though I've been playing first base now. But I did like Albert Pujols when I was younger. The way he went about the game was so calm. His at-bats were so mature. My grandpa actually liked him too.
 
And as you've succeeded, so has the team. You've won 10 of 13. What's working for you guys right now?
We have a mature lineup. We only lost one position player, Vimael Machin, from last year, so even when we've been down in games and have had to come from behind, no one really panics. We just keep calm and focus on what we've been practicing on, doing what we did last year. We've been able to keep our cool and come back in games and secure a win.
 
Give me something from last year's run to the Super Regionals that other people might not necessarily know, but you'll never forget.
At Dallas Baptist in the regional, we had been on a long winning streak, but we had actually lost that first championship game. But we went into the visitor's clubhouse after and it was the most relaxed I'd ever seen our team in three years. We were just kind of joking around, eating our lunch. We knew we had to play the second game, but you would've never thought we were going into an elimination game in front of 3,000 people on ESPN. I've never seen a team more relaxed in a situation where the expectations were so high.
 
Hometown?
Silver Spring, Maryland
 
Okay, tell me something great about Silver Spring, Maryland.
It's kind of in the middle of everything. There's Howard County where there's the countryside, but I can also drive 25 minutes to D.C., Georgetown, stuff like that. I can take the Metro to the Nats game, to the Verizon Center. I can go up to Baltimore, which is only 30 minutes away.
 
Favorite Team?
Washington Nationals
 
Okay, what do the Nationals need to do to win the World Series?
They need relief pitching. With Bryce Harper, the MVP and some other veteran players, they obviously have the tools to do it…they obviously need guys who can come in and shut out games at the end.
 
Favorite Ballpark
Wrigley Field
 
Settle this for us. What's the best baseball movie?
See, I'm not a big movie guy. My roommates hate this about me.
 
I'm incredulous. What do baseball players who don't watch movie do on those long bus trips?
Listen to music
 
Alright, what are you listening to right now?
I'm definitely known to listen to Bieber.
 
I'm going to put that out publicly, you know?
Yeah, that's alright. It's one of my walk-up songs anyway.
 
What's the most number of hits you've had in a game at any level?
Probably six? I think I was 6-for-6.
 
We're talking right now on your off day. Other than talk to me, what do you want to do on your off day?
I've thought a lot today about what I'm going to do. Our off days consist of catching up. I literally have homework due tomorrow at 9 p.m., but we have the game at 4 at Maryland and the bus doesn't really have great Wi-Fi, so I've got to do it today. Definitely that. I just lifted. Definitely laundry, car wash, couch and TV, and then treatment with [our athletic trainer] Brad. I usually plan 10 things and get about three done.
 
What's something people might not know about you?
I absolutely hate taking food to go. I can get it delivered. That's fine. I hate going to pick it up and then taking it back to eat. I figure by the time you go home and eat, you still have to sit down and eat, so why not just sit and eat it?