Sonoma State second baseman David Adler will never be featured on an instructional fielding video. Some infielders are described as “slick.” Adler could fairly be decribed as less-than-completely-aesthetically pleasing.
He routinely gets down on one knee to field a grounder and he often looks more herky-jerky than smooth. Oh yeah, before I continue writing about what he lacks I should mention something else: Adler didn’t commit an error in 219 chances this season and was named the ABCA National Defensive Player of the Year this week. He is the first SSU player to receive the honor.
Seawolves coach John Goelz said he resistsed whatever urge he had to offer Adler a free fielding makeover. Good idea.
“I wouldn’t tell anyone to do it the way he does it, but I wasn’t going to change it,” Goelz said. “It’s hard to improve on perfection.”
The NCAA doesn’t keep records for fielding, so it’s unknown whether another middle infielder ever had an errorless season with more than 200 chances.
And if Adler seems like an unlikely candidate to do it, he’s used to surprising people. He’s 5-foot-4, weighs 150 pounds and wasn’t a full-time starter at Westlake High at the beginning of his senior year. Whatever. He hit .337 this season — .457 in eight NCAA Tournament games — and was the only SSU player to be named to the all-tournament team at the Division II College World Series.
He didn’t hit a homer in his two-year SSU career, but his glove always kept him in the lineup, Goelz said.
“I’d be talking to the coaches and we’d always “Adler has to play, he catches every ball,'” Goelz said. “Then I’d say, “Now watch, he’ll probably make about three errors today.’ I probably said that before the last 15 games of the season.”
Adler, who isn’t considered a draft prospect, remembers his last error. It came in the final game of the 2007 season, a 4-1 loss to Cal State L.A. in the NCAA West Regional.
“It was a ground ball to the hole and I was thinking about a double play,” Adler said. “But the ball went off my glove and went into the outfield. They scored some runs that inning.”
Given the circumstances, it’s a painful memory for Adler. But there is comfort in this — it was the last error he would ever make.
Here’s the ABCA National Gold Glove Team:
1B: Clay Clafee, Angelo State
2B: David Adler, Sonoma State
SS: Vance Albitz, UC San Diego
3B: Bret Ringer, Chico State
C: Chase Blackwood, Valdosta State
OF: Justin Pennell, Ouachita Baptist
OF: Nick Campbell, Bryant
OF: Josh Izookovic, Limestone
P: Korey Noles, Columbus State
Defensive Player of the Year: David Adler, Sonoma State