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Dallas Oliver’s journey back to the mound

By Jessica Gardner | Staff Reporter
On March 1, 2018

 Last season, Dallas Oliver led Florida A&M baseball at the plate with a .365 batting average.
Photo credit: Sydne Vigille

 

Dallas Oliver spent a year patiently waiting his opportunity to take the mound again after having to undergo surgery his sophomore year of college. In his time spent away from the mound last season, Oliver led Florida A&M baseball at the plate with a .365 batting average and proved to be an asset in right field.

Baseball has always been a major aspect of Oliver’s life. Growing up, his mom still recalls the countless hours he spent perfecting his craft.

“He is very motivated and intense. He has always been that way since he was little. He spent every weekend at the batting cages,” Lora Barnes, Oliver’s mom said.

Dating back to high school, Oliver has consistently been a dominant player. He played for Chipley High School as a closer, but he was a strong asset to the team offensively as well. He contributed in a major way his senior year completing the season with a .415 batting average.

Oliver went on to play college baseball for Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama. His freshman year was explosive both offensively and defensively, completing the season with a .311 batting average and posted a 3.03 ERA.

He began his sophomore year on the same momentum with a .415 batting average and a recorded 3.14 ERA on the mound. Oliver had just made his way into the starting rotation. In the middle of the season, he received the news that he would have to undergo surgery that would take him off the field the remainder of the season.

Although the surgery was unexpected, Oliver remained optimistic about his future.

“It was heartbreaking. If you saw my numbers at Lawson, I felt like I was playing pretty well and then the surgery happened,” said Oliver. “It kind of discouraged me a little bit but it wasn’t that much of an issue because I knew I would come back stronger and better.”

During Oliver’s sophomore year at Lawson he was recruited by the baseball coaching staff at Florida A&M.

FAMU Pitching Coach Bryan Henry said the pitching staff was impressed by Oliver’s overall athletic ability.

“The one thing that stood out the most about Dallas isn’t even a stat on the paper, it’s his athleticism. To be a really good hitter, a really good outfielder and to pitch, it takes an athletic kid to do that,” Henry said.

In March of 2016 Oliver had his surgery. While recovering, he said he worked hard every day to get back on the field and the mound. He remained in high spirits due to his strong support system at FAMU.  

“When I got the surgery, Coach Shouppe (the head baseball coach) was one of the first people my mom called to tell the surgery was a success. He just kind of kept me mentally tough to be ready and prepared to play at FAMU.” Oliver said.

Oliver spent the first four months of the 2017 baseball season playing right field and leading the team at the plate. In the meantime, he also was spending extra time preparing himself to take the mound.

May 2nd, 2017, FAMU baseball travelled to Gainesville to take on the number one team in the country, the University of Florida. It was the bottom of the 8th inning and FAMU was down by one point. The coaches put Oliver in to pitch.

“Dallas is a true competitor. Just the chance to compete, he rose to the occasion right away …He went out there, his adrenaline took over and he threw the ball great.” Henry said.

Oliver had great success in his first appearance back on the mound. He finished the 8th inning striking out two of the three batters he faced. This helped regain Oliver’s confidence as a pitcher.

“He was having such a good year at the plate already and to have a little success on the mound as well, it helped him to go into the offseason really wanting to work hard at it and have success,” Henry said.

Going into the 2018 season, Oliver was excited and eager to finish out his senior year strong.

“We put in a lot of work over the summer and the fall. Coach Shouppe and Coach Henry had a great protocol for me to get my arm ready and for me to feel confident,” Oliver said.

Oliver is third in the starting weekend rotation this season. The coaching staff is elated to see what the season holds for Oliver as he is back in his full form.

“We expect that every time we put Dallas on the mound he’s going to compete and give us a chance to win,” Henry said.

 

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