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Jacksonville State's Cole Frederick has played six different positions for the Gamecocks this season and started at five of them. (Photo by Trent Penny)

JACKSONVILLE — So, what would Cole Frederick's main baseball position be?

"Third base," the Jacksonville State sophomore answered after a recent game.

Then he added, "Or second."

Jim Case, JSU's head baseball coach, added, "Or left."

Then Case jokingly teased Frederick about being asked about his main position and giving two answers.

It's just that Frederick can't be nailed down to one position, and his versatility helped Jacksonville State win the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championship this year. As a result, JSU will enter this week's OVC tournament in Marion, Ill., as the No. 1 seed. The Gamecocks (34-21) will open play Thursday at 11 a.m. against a team to be determined.

He has started at five different positions this season, including 22 at third base, 25 at second base, one in center field, four in right, and two in left. He also made a couple of appearances at shortstop. In 12 of JSU's 55 games this season, he started at one spot and finished at another.

"We ask a lot out of him," Case said. "We play him at third, we play him at second, we play in left, we play him in right. Last year, we played him some in center. We ask him to do a lot because he's such a good athlete, and it helps us get other people in the game that we want to get in, because he is so versatile."

If Nic Gaddis is catching, then Frederick usually plays third, but if Alex Webb is catching, Case will put Gaddis at third, which moves Frederick at second — unless Case wants to start Devin Brown there. Then Frederick will go to right or left field, depending on which outfielder Case wants in the lineup.

When JSU swept Austin Peay this past weekend to clinch its league championship, Frederick started the first game at third base, moved to right field for the second, and spent the third game at second base, which Case said might be Frederick's best position.

"But, that doesn't fit with our personnel to put our best people out there all the time," Case said. "So, we take advantage of his versatility. If you ask where is he the very best, I'd say, 'Man, there ain't a whole lot of second basemen as athletic as that dude.'"

Frederick did make the All-OVC team, which was released Tuesday … as the second-team third baseman.

Case swears Frederick can play anywhere. The only infield position Frederick hasn't played is first base, but if Alex Strachan and Andrew Naismith got hurt, and Case was forced to ask, "Who's on first?" the answer probably would be Frederick.

If Case needed an emergency catcher, Frederick might get the call there, too.

"With Cole Frederick, you could take two weeks of practice, and he could catch for us," Case said. "I think he might be a really good catcher. I do."

These days, however, Frederick's bat might be more impressive than anything he's doing with his many different gloves.

About a month into the season, his batting average sat at .171. After that, he started hitting again and hasn't stopped.

His average is up to .293, and he's been especially good against OVC competition, hitting .373. His 50 hits in league play rank second in the OVC. His 31 runs in the league are tied for third.

"The first month just started awful," Frederick said. "It's hard to get confidence when you know you can hit, but when you're not seeing results, it's hard to keep your head up," he said. "But, as soon as you do, you have to build off that. Ever since I've been hitting well, I've reminded myself that I could do it. Been rolling with it ever since."

Case said Frederick might've put too much pressure on himself earlier in the year.

"We use this term all the time: try easier," Case said. "I think that earlier in the year, he was trying too hard. Every at-bat, it was like the weight of the world was on that at-bat, instead of just relaxing and playing."

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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