The First Academy’s Dakoda Grove has had a strong start to the season at the plate.
Leadoff man Dakoda Grove has had a strong start to the season at the plate for The First Academy’s baseball team (6-3), helping to set the tone for the Royals’ offense. Grove, a Rollins College signee, is hitting nearly .400 this spring with four extra-base hits, and he has scored nine runs.
Are you surprised at all at how well you’ve hit so far this spring?
I’ve just been getting good pitches to hit. I’m hitting in front of Kendrick (Calilao), so I get a lot of strikes, and they’ve been pounding fastballs over the plate.
Despite graduating some key players from 2017, the team seems to have picked up where it left off.
I think we’re actually better this year. … We’ve got all our pitchers back, so it’s exciting.
What are a few games left on the schedule that you are excited about?
Trinity Prep (April 17, 20) and Trinity Catholic (April 10, 13) are big district games, and then the West Orange game (March 27) is going to be a good one.
What have you focused on improving?
I worked on getting stronger. I gained 20 pounds during the offseason, so I’m a lot bigger this year. I gained more power with my bat.
Name a professional player you admire.
I love Adam Haseley (Philadelphia Phillies 2017 draft pick), who used to go here. I look up to him.
Why did you choose Rollins as the place to continue your career?
I like how it’s close, it’s a good school, and the conference is really good — there’s some good baseball. I’m going to get a good education. I’m going to study business, so it works out good for me.
Who is a teammate who is under the radar, but that people should keep an eye on?
Ryan Kuehnel, our shortstop this year. He’s a hard worker. He has no offers right now, but he’s going to pick up a few before the season is over.
Which of your teammates is the funniest?
What’s your all-time favorite baseball movie?
The one with the (Cleveland) Indians, “Major League.”
What are you hoping to do for a career?
With business management, there’s going to be a lot of options outside college. I’m not sure what I want to do exactly, but I know I’ll have good options.
If you could play a game in any stadium, which would you choose?
Yankee Stadium — it’s my favorite team, and I’ve always dreamed of playing there.
What’s your dream car?
A big (Ford) F-250. Black, lifted with four-wheel drive.