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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

With power hitting on the rise, Chico State baseball is too

Senior shortstop Casey Henderson launches a ball down the left field line Photo credit: Carly Maxstone

Two weeks ago I wrote criticizing the Chico State baseball team’s lack of power this year.

Through their first eight games, the Wildcats’ baseball team had only hit one home run, and had a .255 team average. This is contrast to last year’s team who had hit five home runs at this point and just next door the Chico State softball team, who slugged 14 home runs in their first eight games, and is on track to break their school’s home run record as a team just halfway through.

It simply didn’t look like the long ball was going to be a part of the baseball team’s game, and unfortunately they weren’t making much contact either.

Recently, however, the Wildcat offense has made a major turn around and it is starting to show in their overall record.

In their last eight games, the Chico State baseball team has slugged six home runs, and has a .310 average as a team.

This power surge can not be attributed to any one player, however, as four different players have gone yard in recent games. Kyle Blakeman and Tyler Stofiel have each homered once while Alex DeVito and Luke Hussung have gone deep twice each.

One of the biggest keys to hitting for power is getting ahead in the count, and that is exactly what the Wildcats’ offense struggled to do early and has been doing lately. Their hitters are staying patient and getting themselves into ideal counts against the pitcher, such as 3-1 or 2-0 counts and results are showing.

When good hitters get into these type of counts, they can take advantage of the pitcher by sitting on a particular pitch in a particular location. For most power hitters, this usually means a fastball on the inner half of the plate. If the pitch is located anywhere else in the strike zone, they can simply lay off it and wait for aanother one. If the pitch is in their zone, however, then they are well prepared to jump all over it, and that’s when home runs occur.

To see which players are hitting for the most power, lets take a look at their slugging percentage, or slg%. For those who don’t know, slg% is calculated by dividing the total number of bases by the total number of at bats.

Currently, designated hitter Alex DeVito leads the way with a .581 slg%. This comes as no surprise, as designated hitters are often known for their raw power. DeVito is followed by Tyler Stofiel and Luke Hussung, who have slugging percentages of .545 and .441.

Shortstop Casey Henderson is currently fourth on the list with a slg% of .415, but look for him to break out of his power slump soon.

In 2017, Henderson hit two home runs in his first 16 games. This year, he has no home runs though his first 16 games. Nevertheless, Henderson’s average has improved from .299 last year to .321 this year. This shows that he is still seeing the ball well and making good contact, but is just lacking the extra lift to get the ball over the fence. Look for the ball to start jumping off of Henderson’s bat in the near future, however, because he is due for one soon.

The Wildcats will play their next game against Cal State Monterey Bay at 2 p.m. on Friday in Seaside.

Austin Schreiber can be reached at [email protected] or @aschreiber94 on Twitter.

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