Swinging a hot bat: Mitchell’s offense guides it to 5-0 start
Mitchell's experience has shown at the plate through its first five games.
Not only by hitting seemingly everything in sight, but also by the Kernel baseball team's approach at the plate. The Kernels have won four games by the 10-run rule during their 5-0 start, including an 11-1 win over Madison on Tuesday at Drake Field.
Mitchell coach Luke Norden didn't expect his team to plate 71 runs through 27 innings, but his team's approach at the plate isn't a surprise.
"You kind of expect older guys maybe not to hit so well early on, but to have a good approach and remember what makes them successful," Norden said. "Just having a plan and approach and knowing how to go about doing things the right way is a great start."
The Kernels have scored at least 17 runs three times this season, including a season-high 21 against Rapid City Stevens on Sunday. They topped 10 runs four times last spring, and never scored more than 14 runs in a single game.
It's the product of Mitchell's entire lineup manufacturing hits and runs, as eight players have at least five hits. Carson Max leads the team with eight hits and a home run, while Ryan McGinnis has driven in a team-high eight runs.
"We just come out here and expect to hit the ball," Mitchell senior Carter Max said. "... Down the stretch as the year goes on, we're going to need that."
Max also emphasized the work Mitchell puts in the batting cages. Prior to the season, the Kernels put an emphasis on developing timing when practicing inside since they didn't see live pitching.
"I've been really impressed with no matter what drill we've done, just the timing the guys have had," Norden said. "And the in-game adjustments guys have made at different speeds. Guys grow up from one at-bat to the next. They make sure they don't make the same mistake again."
It's been more than racking up 59 hits, though. The Kernels have also had a keen eye and been disciplined at the plate. They have twice as many walks (36) as strikeouts (18), highlighted by a one-strikeout performance against Madison.
Koby Larson's seven walks leads the team as he's one of three players with at least five.
The only downside to this much offensive production?
"We haven't gotten the opportunity to work on signs and stuff," Norden said. "Some of the things we rely on to win close games."
Still, logging innings and taking in-game at-bats will help in the long run, according to Norden. He'll continue to emphasize the importance of having the same approach and mentality, no matter the score. Mitchell hosts Brookings at 6 p.m. Friday, looking to keep its hot streak going.
"We just have to keep working hard at practice," Max said. "We won five games but that doesn't mean anything, though. We still have our toughest competition ahead. It's a long, but short spring season. We just need to keep working hard."