They call him “Suga” Shane Lewis, and that could be because the Troy left fielder makes such a sweet first impression.
Lewis, a draft-eligible sophomore, ranks second in the nation with 26 homers and is tied for fourth with 72 RBIs.
He is also fourth in the nation in slugging percentage (.846), and he is tied with ex-Trojan Jorge Soto for the Troy record for single-season homers.
What follows are 26 notes on Lewis – one for each of his homers for the Trojans:
1: When Lewis was about nine years old and living in his native Vicksburg, Mississippi, Lewis slugged two homers while batting righthanded for his Little League team.
Lewis then asked his coach, Tim Shelton, if he could try swinging from the left side. Granted permission, Lewis slugged two homers batting lefty before he called it a day.
“After that,” Lewis’ father, Randy, said, “the coach let him hit any way he wanted.”
2: Fast forward to the summer of 2021. Lewis was preparing for his one season at Chipola JC in Marianna, Florida.
Troy coach Skylar Meade, in his first month on the job, made the trek to Florida to scout a couple of pitchers.
“I’m watching Kenya Huggins,” Meade said of the Chipola righthander who went on to become the Reds’ fourth-round pick in 2022. “All of a sudden, (Lewis) hits a bomb, and he took about two minutes to jog around the bases.”
When Ben Wolgamot – Troy’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator – went to watch Lewis, the same thing happened.
3: Lewis signed with Troy, and the first new teammate he met was Brady Fuller. They became immediate friends, with Fuller promising to strike out Lewis, and Lewis vowing to take his new buddy to Dinger Town.
This past fall, in Lewis' first at-bat for the Trojans – albeit in an intra-squad scrimmage – he faced Fuller. On a 3-1 fastball, Lewis’ first swing resulted in – yep – a homer.
“Brady is one of my best friends – not just on the team but in life,” Lewis said. “When I hit it out against him, I messed with him for about 15 seconds. I held my hands up, and I flipped my bat. It was about bragging rights.”
4: Truth be told, Lewis swung and missed at the next seven pitches he saw in the fall.
He did just enough to earn a starting job – but he wasn’t exactly the cleanup hitter when the Trojans opened this season on Feb. 17 against visiting Evansville.
Meade placed Lewis eighth in the batting order.
“Right now, it looks like a horrible move,” Wolgamot joked about Lewis batting eighth at the start of the season. “But at that time, Coach Meade hit it right, and Shane has gradually gained the confidence he needed.
“But no matter where he hits, he has been the same guy. He hasn’t tried to be more of a power hitter since he moved up the batting order.”
Lewis is now batting third, but he admits he initially felt “weird” batting eighth.
“I never hit eighth before,” he said, “but now I’m glad I did because I had to earn everything.”
It worked out just fine as Lewis – of course – hit a three-run jack against Evansville in his first official swing at the D1 level.
5: Lewis asked this reporter – politely – to credit his mom and dad, Abi and Randy.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without everything my parents sacrificed and have done for me,” Lewis said. “I am forever blessed to call them family.”
6: Lewis has always been a terrific athlete, earning the starting job as the quarterback at Vicksburg’s Warren Central High School.
“I was a flamethrower,” Lewis said when asked about his football-throwing skills, “but I wasn’t always accurate.”
7: Lewis’ football career ended after he blew out his right knee on the last play of summer practices, just before the start of his junior year.
It was a non-contact ACL injury as Lewis – running the option – planted his foot and made his move upfield.
Lewis said he has a high pain tolerance, which seems like an understatement because he played five games not knowing it was an ACL tear.
He finally had reconstructive surgery, and that’s when he decided to focus on baseball for fear of losing his scholarship to play for the school he and his family have always rooted for, the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
8: As it turns out, Lewis never got to play for the Bulldogs, redshirting in 2021 as Mississippi State went on to win the College World Series.
Lewis said he had a great experience at Starkville and is grateful to all his coaches and teammates.
“I was recruited as a corner infielder, and they moved me to right field, where I took reps behind Tanner Allen,” Lewissaid of the Marlins prospect. “It was cool learning from one of the best players in college baseball history.”
9: Needing game action, Lewis transferred to Chipola, an elite junior-college program whose small-town feel reminded him of Vicksburg.
It was a good choice.
Lewis hit .312 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs in his one season at Chipola, leading the nation in several offensive stats for roughly half the year.
10: At Troy, Lewis has led the Trojans to a 33-17 record, including 22-7 at home. The Trojans have already eclipsed the win total they had last year (32-24).
11: Lewis, who weighs 192 pounds and is a whisker shy of 6-foot-2, said people often ask him how he is able to hit so many home runs.
“I say, ‘I have no idea,’” Lewis said. “I know I’m not the biggest or the strongest. Maybe it’s fast-twitch muscles or forearm strength. I’ve always had muscular legs and a strong core.
“My biceps aren’t the biggest, but I work on my forearms and grip strength, and that plays a key role.”
12: Lewis said his high school coach, Randy Broome, taught him a pivotal part of his technique years ago.
“I like to hit with the bat in my fingers,” Lewis said. “If you put the bat in your palm, your hands and wrists can’t really whip through the ball.”
13: Meade said the way Lewis flicks his wrists at the baseball is unique.
The coach also described one amazing Lewis homer that he initially thought was a “popup to the catcher” but had a 41.4-degree launch angle.
“I’ve never seen anyone generate that much backspin on the baseball,” Meade said.
14: In 50 games this year, Lewis has drawn 39 walks, and he has struck out 60 times.
“His chase rate remains low,” Meade said.
15: Perhaps Lewis’ longest homer of the season was a 442-foot drive over the right-field fence at Auburn.
“It landed at the back of their batting cage,” Meade said, “and it bounced into the abyss of their dorms.”
16: There are many Lewis virtues. For one, about a week ago, he had exactly the same OPS batting right as well as left.
“Sometimes you watch switch-hitters, and they do something completely different from each side of the plate,” Wolgamot said. “Not Shane.”
Added Meade: “Shane has the same juice from both sides of the plate, and he can change a game with one swing. Yet, he doesn’t get fearful of the moment. He’s clutch.”
17: Meade said Lewis doesn’t hit any “cheapies” among his homers.
Lewis said a homer he hit at Georgia State this year might have gone farther than his 442-footer at Auburn had the ball not hit a tree behind the center-field fence.
18: Lewis had never hit a walk-off homer until – no joke – April 1, when his solo shot down the right-field line beat Southern Miss, 5-4, in 10 innings.
19: The pitcher who allowed Lewis’ homer is Justin Storm. Lewis and Storm have played with and against each other since they were 6 years old back in their native Mississippi.
“Justin is a heck of a pitcher,” Lewis said. “He’s 6-foot-7, and his arms are longer than a tree trunk.
“He got up on me 0-2, but I didn’t press because I’ve been facing him since we were 9 years old.
20: Lewis has reached base in 25 consecutive games. His on-base percentage is .473.
“He swings at the right pitches,” Meade said.
21: Batting seventh on March 4, Lewis drove in eight runs in a 15-9 win over USC Upstate. It’s the most single-game RBIs by a Troy player since 1999.
Patience at the plate is paying off for Lewis.
“Shane sees more than 4.2 pitches per at-bat,” Meade said. “That’s good for a power hitter.”
22: Troy’s coaches – especially Meade and Wolgamot – helped Lewis re-tool his batting stance this season.
“I’m standing more upright,” Lewis said. “I’m making smaller movements. I’ve quieted everything down.
“My eyes and head don’t move as much as before. With smaller movements, I can better see the ball released by the pitcher, and my brain can quickly process if I need to swing or not.”
Wolgamot has put in a lot of work with Lewis.
“He was a leg-kick guy from both sides of the plate,” Wolgamot said. “He thought that was going to generate power, force and momentum. But when he gets the barrel on the ball, it just has different juice. So, we just tried to simplify things, cutting out the leg kick.
“Once he started to see success in-game, it’s been simple for him. Getting in hitting position quicker has allowed him to be more adjustable. He now makes just a three- or four-inch stride, and that allows him to be on time.”
23: Lewis has improved his defense over the past month. Last Friday against Georgia Southern, Lewis threw out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double. The next day, he crashed into a brick wall while making a catch in foul ground down the left-field line.
“He’s a crazy athlete with a good arm,” Meade said. “He has a burst. In pro ball, I think they will play him in center and let him figure it out.
“Shane is also a very good baserunner. Rounding third, he has a great shoulder lean, and he hits the inside part of the bag. That’s one of my favorite Shane Lewis things to watch, which I know sounds crazy when he’s hit 26 bombs.”
24: Before every game and after every win, Lewis and his teammates gather in the locker-room to sing Toby Keith’s Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.
“We all stand,” Lewis said, “and we sing it at the top of our lungs.”
25: Meade said Lewis plays with “flair”, which can be seen in the way he celebrates homers with his teammates. But the focus, Meade said, is on Troy instead of showing up any opponent.
“We have a culture that allows guys to be themselves,” Meade said.
26: Lewis has not been back to his beloved Vicksburg since he blew up as a draft prospect this year at Troy.
Once he returns home after the season, he will surely make a stop at his favorite restaurant, El Sombrero, a Mexican spot where he typically orders a burrito with rice and beans.
“I’ve been to El Sombrero more than a thousand times – after football games, after baseball games, on weekends, on week nights,” Lewis said. “Every time I go, I will know at least 10 or 15 people there.”
This time when he returns home, it could be as the NCAA’s homer champ.
Lewis, asked how he thinks he will be greeted back home, showed his sense of humor.
“Hopefully,” Lewis said, “they will remember me.”
They surely will – Lewis’ season is already unforgettable.