Harre pacing SIU softball early in year

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Harre pacing SIU softball early in year

Then-junior first baseman Shaye Harre high fives coach Kerri Blaylock while rounding third after her two-RBI homerun in the top of the second during a 11-1 win against Butler on March 6, 2016, at Charlotte West Stadium. Harre finished the game 2-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

Then-junior first baseman Shaye Harre high fives coach Kerri Blaylock while rounding third after her two-RBI homerun in the top of the second during a 11-1 win against Butler on March 6, 2016, at Charlotte West Stadium. Harre finished the game 2-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

Then-junior first baseman Shaye Harre high fives coach Kerri Blaylock while rounding third after her two-RBI homerun in the top of the second during a 11-1 win against Butler on March 6, 2016, at Charlotte West Stadium. Harre finished the game 2-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

Then-junior first baseman Shaye Harre high fives coach Kerri Blaylock while rounding third after her two-RBI homerun in the top of the second during a 11-1 win against Butler on March 6, 2016, at Charlotte West Stadium. Harre finished the game 2-3 with three RBIs and one run scored.

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

The Salukis’ leading hitter this season doesn’t have an ace up her sleeve, rather a hotel key in her back pocket.

Junior first baseman Shaye Harre started the superstition last season and has continued this season as she leads the team with a .386 batting average.

Harre is leading a team that has four players batting above .346, the most of any team in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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“This year the whole team is hitting … it’s contagious,” she said. “It’s a trickle effect that goes down the line. Once you get on a roll, it just kind of keeps going.”

The Nashville-native has been a model of consistency starting at first base and batting cleanup in all 16 games — her batting average has fallen below .316 just twice this season. Her one strikeout is the least of anyone on the team with more than 10 at-bats.

Through 16 games, Harre leads the Dawgs with 32 total bases, 15 RBIs and four home runs, one shy of her career high. She is also tied for the team lead with 13 runs and is second in hits, doubles, slugging percentage, walks and on-base percentage.

Through 16 games in 2015, she was batting .260 with nine RBIs, eight runs, eight walks, two doubles and one home run.

The first baseman said she wanted to get off to a better start than last season by making sure she perfected her swing in the offseason instead of adjusting as the first games went along.

Harre said she likes to know how a pitcher throws to lefties by talking to those who bat ahead of her. She said she often learns from freshman left fielder Erika Brandenburg’s at-bat and takes that into account.

But when Harre is in in the batters’ box, she lets her lucky card and steady technique do the work.

“I don’t think about anything, because at that point, nothing is going to help you,” she said. “You have your mechanics, but they have to be there for you, you can’t think about them.”

The superstition also started because Harre didn’t think about it. She forgot the room key was in her back pocket and didn’t leave it on the bus like every game before.

Harre does however think about her approach at the plate, which she said is to fight off outside pitches and foul off inside pitches because she knows, as a middle-of-the-order hitter, she isn’t going to get the pitcher’s best.

Associate head coach Jen Sewell, who works primarily with hitting, said Harre’s ability to hit bad pitches has helped the team.

“I’ve asked her to take the bat off her shoulder on pitches that aren’t perfect for her, and she’s done that,” she said. “It may take away from her walks a little bit, but I don’t need her on base as much as I need her hitting her way on.”

Yet, the left-hander is second on the team with nine walks. Harre, one of the team captains this season, led the team with 24 in 48 games last season.

Sewell, who described Harre as a “cool cat” who doesn’t feel pressure when batting, said the first baseman can wait on close pitches early in an at-bat to set up the pitcher for a better pitch later. While this might negatively prolong the at bat, something Sewell said she wants to alleviate, she knows Harre will battle through it.

“Never do I look in her eyes and think, ‘Oh, she’s beat,'” she said. “When you have presence like that at the plate, hitters are thinking, ‘If I can stay calm like her, I can put the bat on the ball.'”

Freshman right fielder Hanna Porter is one of those hitters. She is currently second on the team with three home runs and said learning from a power hitter like Harre has helped her hitting.

“She’s such a strong hitter, so to watch the way she hits is different than anyone else I’ve seen,” she said. “She can see the things I’m doing wrong and she’s really positive and outgoing about [helping with] hitting.”

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3333

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