Elijah Skipps has plenty of experience being the new guy.
After all, Cal Poly is the third school he’s attended in as many years.
But the junior first baseman, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 235 pounds, has made a largely seamless transition into the Mustangs’ lineup this spring.
His arrival in San Luis Obispo comes after one season at Arizona and a stellar sophomore campaign at Cypress College, where he helped lead the Chargers to the California Community College State Championship series.
“This is probably one of the best teams, not just talentwise, but just everybody is a great guy around here,” Skipps said after Thursday’s series-opening loss to Nebraska. “I think we’re a really good team, we just haven’t really showed it.”
Skipps is one of a few newcomers making an impact for a Cal Poly team that’s struggled to find its footing this season.
The Mustangs are 8-13 with three nonconference games remaining — including a 1 p.m. Saturday doubleheader against the Cornhuskers — before the start of Big West Conference play March 31.
If things are going to turn around in the Mustangs’ favor, it will have to start at the plate.
Cal Poly has been shut out six times this season and scored the second-fewest runs among conference peers. The team also is on track to lead the Big West in errors for the second straight year.
For Skipps, who spent most of his career in the outfield but has taken over as the everyday first baseman for the Mustangs, his job comes down to producing runs and erasing miscues in the infield.
One of six players to appear in every game this season, Skipps is batting .237 with 14 hits, two doubles and six RBI. His .366 on-base percentage is the second-highest mark on the team behind only sophomore Alex McKenna (.427).
The Cypress native said his approach coming into this year was to “do my part and just let the rest take care of itself.”
Skipps added that he isn’t concerned with what his role will be moving forward, even as one of the few upperclassmen in the starting lineup.
He has one focus.
“I’m just trying to win,” Skipps said. “Regardless if I’m playing first or if I have to play anywhere else or if I’m just handing people water. It doesn’t really matter. I’m just hoping we turn things around soon.”
Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said the junior has good leadership qualities and described him as “very mature, great teammate, continuing to develop as a player.”
Continued development will need to be a key theme if the Mustangs want to make a run during Big West play.
Fellow newcomers Bradlee Beesley (.230, 17 hits, 12 runs, six doubles) and Colby Barrick (.400, 10 hits, three doubles, four RBI) have secured starting positions at second base and right field, respectively.
Lee also has stuck with true freshman Scott Ogrin in the designated hitter position, though he’s experience some first-year struggles while acclimating to Division I pitching.
Perhaps the most frustrating part for Lee is the amount of injuries piling up on a seemingly nightly basis.
Returners Dylan Doherty, Kevin Morgan and Cooper Moore have all been sidelined for extended time, while pitchers Jarred Zill and Thomas Trianots have both undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The result has been a thin lineup for Lee to pick from and little run support for an effective pitching staff.
“I think we were down to two healthy guys on the bench position wise,” Lee said Thursday night. “It’s one of those years where a lot of injuries are occurring for no real reason.”