SOUTHINGTON - The Southington baseball teamâ€™s offense is becoming something to fear.
Over the last two games, both wins, the Blue Knights have racked up 33 hits and 31 runs while getting contributions from throughout the lineup. In Mondayâ€™s 21-2 win over Berlin, every starter in the lineup had at least one hit, one run and one RBI, meaning things appear to be firing on all cylinders right now.
â€śGive the guys all of the credit,â€ť Southington head coach Charles Lembo said. â€śWe can take batting practice and we could do a lot situational things in BP, but when it comes to games they have to come out and do it and these past couple games they have.â€ť
Itâ€™s not like Southington was struggling to score in the beginning of the season, as it was averaging four runs a game over its first five, but the players and coaches knew there were more runs to get with the talent that was in the lineup.
Lembo believed it would take just one player getting hot because he thought that would rub off on the rest of the team.
â€śHitting is contagious, it really is,â€ť Lembo said. â€śYou see one guy hitting and it makes you want to hit and you just get that confidence as a group.â€ť
While it seems as though all of the Blue Knights are feeling good at the plate now, there were players that started off the season slumping. The reason for some of the cold bats out of the gate might have been the approach, which has turned into a major talking point in recent weeks.
Early on the team was hitting a lot of fly balls in what Lembo described as selfish at-bat with players seeming to be going for home runs. But considering the wind at Southingtonâ€™s home field, which Lembo says is always blowing in, that isnâ€™t the best was for the team to score. Instead, the head coach said more line drives on top of better pitch selection and the renewed plan has led to plenty of success.
â€śWeâ€™re actually trying to be a little bit more aggressive,â€ť Lembo said. â€śEarly in counts I thought we were taking some juicy pitches, falling behind and maybe pressing a little bit. I tell the guys if you get a good pitch hit it, turn on it. Thatâ€™s really it.â€ť
â€śWe were taking a lot of pitches early on,â€ť said Jeremy Mercier who had two hits and a team-high four RBI against Berlin. â€śWe werenâ€™t swinging at good pitches and we were kind of taking selfish at-bats. A lot of people were taking personal swings but now we realize that we need to be more focused on situational hitting.â€ť
One of the big keys to Southingtonâ€™s recent offensive outburst is the length the team has in its lineup. Mercier led the team with four RBI on Monday but he bats eighth. Any given day the team can have someone else step up and on days when it is all clicking, like against Berlin, the team could be downright scary because the lineup offers no let up.
â€śIt helps a lot to have everybody in the lineup be a threat,â€ť Lembo said. â€śWhen we go up to the plate knowing what we want to accomplish we can be dangerous. Sometimes guys have to sacrifice and do little things to help the team win like moving a guy over instead of trying to hit a home run and I see that with this group.â€ť
The depth of the lineup was on full display on Monday and Mercier thinks that it goes even further than just the starting lineup.
â€śOne-through-nine, even one-through-18 or however many we have, everybody can hit,â€ť Mercier said. â€śAs long as we are on we are always going to be able to hit and score runs.â€ť
The Blue Knights have found their groove at the plate but itâ€™s not like 21 runs is a sustainable number to reach every game. Southingtonâ€™s pitching has been solid through the early part of the season, allowing three runs or less per game, so the team doesnâ€™t need that much production out of the lineup, it just needs consistent run production, something the hitters think they can provide.
â€śTwenty-one runs is probably not going to happen often,â€ť Mercier said. â€śBut maybe getting a run every inning, we are capable of that and that should be enough in the majority of the games we play.â€ť
Michael Woolfson can be reached atÂ 860-801-5203Â orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5