Hits keep coming for confident RaidersApril 23, 2014
By BRENDAN PERKINS
Herald Sports Editor
HUNTINGBURG — Jeremiah Mundy could be facing Justin Verlander, Cy Young or Jesus on the mound, and he wouldn’t be too spooked either way.
“He doesn’t get intimidated, I think that’s the good thing about him,” Southridge baseball coach Dave Schank said of his junior left fielder.
“I go up with the most confidence in the world,” Mundy added. “I know I can hit the ball off anyone, but just got to find the right pitch.”
Sure, that uber-confidence speaks a little bit to Mundy’s unique wiring. But when it comes to hitting, there are plenty more Raiders like him. On a team that was already stocked with talent and had minimal openings in the lineup, guys like Mundy, Andrew Recker and Payton Mattingly have found them. And pretty much every Raider has fallen in line with Schank’s style of see-ball, hit-ball which is as fun as it is simple.
Every morsel of scoring was necessary Tuesday for the Raiders to finish off North Posey 9-8 at League Stadium. Southridge bumped its win streak to six games, during which the Raiders are tallying 8.2 runs per contest. In his first year back leading the program after more than a decade away, Schank said “I don’t know that I really had to change anything. The good ballplayers were here.”
The difference, Schank said, is the thrust on “go out there, have fun, let it all hang loose” at the plate. And green lights are typically given all around.
“Coach said on a 3-0 (pitch), if you swing, it better be perfect. Better be in your wheelhouse,” said Recker, who smacked an RBI single and scored two runs.
“It’s a big improvement from last year and a big change in the type of ball that we play. It’s more aggressive, less errors. It’s more exciting.”
Schank may not have envisioned guys like Mundy and Recker getting in on the fun. A year ago, both were fill-in players on the varsity level. Now, Mundy is batting cleanup while Recker, hitting eighth in the order, “has played himself into a spot where I can’t take him out of the lineup,” Schank said. Ditto for Mattingly, a sophomore who drove in three runs in three plate appearances Tuesday.
With Mundy, Schank loves the way he embraces the battle. To lead off Tuesday’s second inning, Mundy got a piece of four two-strike pitches. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, Mundy crunched a sharp single to center, and that set the gears in motion for a four-run inning capped when Connor Craig legged out an infield single with two outs, allowing William Gutgsell and Recker to scurry home.
“So far this year, he’s just been lights-out. He gets in there and competes,” Schank said of Mundy. “He’s up for a challenge. He’s looking good at the plate. He’s got us kick-started in several games.”
With Mundy and Recker, both newcomers’ averages are hovering around the .600 mark. For Recker, the uptick has been tactical, as he worked on shortening his swing and increasing the hip speed he takes into his cuts. For Mundy, the progress has been all about volume. Over the winter, he and teammate Jacob Brewer alternated tossing batting practice to each other in a batting cage in a shed at Brewer’s home in Holland for a few hours a day.
“I thank him for that,” said Mundy, who laced a pair of singles, reached on an error and scored three runs. “He’s the one who got it started, got me going right after football season.”
Preceding Mundy at third in the order, Brewer went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored as Southridge (6-1, 1-0 Pocket Athletic Conference) equipped Raider starter Luke Stetter with waves of run support. A spasm of North Posey runs briefly knotted the game at 4 in the third inning, but the Raiders nosed ahead with two runs in the bottom of the frame. And outside of that one inning, Stetter sat down the Vikings 1-2-3 in each of his other five innings; the junior lefty also struck out seven.
North Posey (4-5, 0-3) threatened Southridge’s security in the seventh inning, piling up four runs with two outs. But Raider reliever Chad O’Bryan waded through the adventuresome final inning — despite yielding four runs, he also struck out the side, whiffing Reed Gerteisen to end it.
A stress-laden scenario, considering the Vikings sent the go-ahead run to the plate? It may be the expected stance — except in the case of Mundy, who’s built up an immunity to tension.
“I don’t think we lost confidence throughout the game. We were calm, pretty much, and we knew we could pull it out,” said Mundy, adding that the attitude of assuredness spreads throughout the rest of the Raiders.
“It’s more of a team thing. We have, I guess you would say, a swagger to us. That’s the way we play. We’ve got the eye black, the arm bands. We just play tough ball. We’re confident in each other.”
Contact Brendan Perkins
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