Lion bats lead to wins with hot start to season

by Staff Writer Kadin Pounders

Going into the season, one of the main goals for the UNA baseball team was maintaining a consistent, successful approach at the plate. For the most part, the Lions have accomplished that goal this season.

Last season, Kyle Conkle was the only Lion with a .300-plus batting average. After the first 10 games this season, six Lions with at least 20 at-bats had a .308 batting average or better: Brett Guzay, Kyle Crabtree, Dylan Calhoun, Dylan Boston, Kevin Hall and Brandon Pugh. The team as a whole is batting .313 with a .407 on-base percentage.

The numbers are promising, but UNA refuses to buy in to the early success. Instead, the Lions look to be even better at the plate.

“I think that it’s still too early to say that it’s success because we’ve only played 10 games so far,” said third baseman Dylan Boston. “I think there’s a lot of guys on the team that just haven’t got hot yet and I know they will.”

Some guys are seeing the ball well, but the weaker competition the Lions faced so far this season may be a factor in the team’s inflated numbers, said head coach Mike Keehn.

“I still don’t feel we are hitting the ball like we are capable of doing and I hope we will start putting it together,” Keehn said.

While the Lions have yet to see many of their hits leave the park – only one in the first 10 games – home runs are not the only evidence of power. UNA loves the double-bagger.

“Power is not necessarily in home runs, but in extra base hits,” Keehn said. “If you look at our doubles we are getting more balls in the gap or by the outfielders, just not over the fence.”

Chicks may dig the long ball, but the Lions are more focused on scoring runs any way they can.

“As far as home runs go, they’re really not that big of a deal if you’ve got guys hitting doubles in the gap. If we stay with the approach of gap-to-gap-like drives, home runs will eventually happen,” Boston said. “As hitters we just try to hit the ball hard and score runs and if it goes out, it’s icing on the cake.”

As the season goes on and UNA gets deeper into conference play, the competition will get stiffer. In order to maintain the impressive numbers the Lions have manufactured so far, they will have to keep the same approach they have had, Keehn said.

“The biggest thing about (the GSC) is (the opponents) have scouting reports on every hitter and they know your weaknesses,” Boston said. “I think the best thing to do is stay with your same approach and work on your weaknesses. Look for them to try to go after your weakness.”