Sophomore keying early season success

Sophomore keying early season success

By Ted Ward, @TedWard_DE

In a sport where some of the greatest athletes succeed 30 percent of the time, one SIU baseball player is far surpassing that number thanks to a new approach in the batters box.

Sophomore infielder Logan Blackfan is second on the team hitting .357 with a team-leading .400 on-base percentage. He is tied for third with five RBI while Blackfan’s four doubles put him in the top 10 of the nation. He led the team last year with 19 doubles, which tied him for 63rd in the nation.

“Most situations I’m looking for a fastball — obviously with two strikes I’m looking for other pitches,” Blackfan said. “The fastball is the one that’s going to be in the zone most often and I’m trying to take advantage.”

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The Cordova, Tenn., native finished last season batting .244 and led the team with 51 strikeouts in 52 games. Through seven games this season he’s struck out three times. 

Hitting coach Ryan Strain said Blackfan appears to be more comfortable at the plate this season compared to his freshman campaign. 

“The big thing is he’s been swinging at strikes and not trying to expand the zone like he did last season,” he said. “He’s been driving the ball.”

Blackfan said his change in approach has been the key to his early season success.

“I’m trying to get my foot down sooner and be more aggressive at the plate in order to not fall behind in the count,” he said. “Hit for power and average will come, hit for average and power will come so I’m just focused on driving in runs and helping the team win games.”

Hitters always try to maintain a smooth, level swing to make better contact, Strain said.

And of course, swinging at strikes can help.

“I’m working on not swinging long and keeping my hands closer to my body,” he said. “I had a tendency to swing at pitches outside the zone and not make as good of contact so I’m trying to sit back and wait on something better to hit.”

In the series last weekend against Western Illinois, Blackfan was 3-for-12 with two RBIs, one home run and three runs scored.

Strain said Blackfan will continue to have success if he can make these changes permanent.  

“Pitchers last year tried to expand the zone on him, and we talked about if he sat back and waited he was going to see better pitchers to swing at,” Strain said. “He’s a good hitter and his swing and discipline has gotten better. A lot of that has to do with maturity, and he’ll continue to grow and get better throughout the season.” 

The Dawgs play Southeastern Missouri State at 3 p.m. Wednesday before beginning a three-game series against Iowa on Friday.

Ted Ward can be reached at [email protected] or 618-534-3303

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