Peyton Nash was struggling at the plate during the Legion baseball season last summer. So he made a few adjustments.
The Mitchell junior started to work the count, understanding when to be aggressive. His stance changed, too. He stands up a little more, bends his knees less and keeps his shoulder inside the ball.
It has come with rousing results. The left fielder is tied for the team lead with 11 hits and 10 walks, helping him hit .550 (11-for-20) with a .700 on-base percentage through the Kernel baseball team's 8-2 start.
"Last year, he got himself out a lot because he was swinging at bad pitches and swinging in counts he wasn't successful," Mitchell coach Luke Norden said. "About halfway through the summer, he changed his approach a little. He's understanding the game more and his approach at the plate has just gotten better as he's gotten more at-bats."
Nash also credits Mitchell's senior leadership for his turnaround. But to make sure his bat doesn't cool off, he doesn't have any major plans. He just wants to stick to his routine.
His routine made him one of Mitchell's most dangerous hitters in the cleanup spot. One who has three multi-hit games and adds protection to future South Dakota State University baseball player Carson Max. They also give Mitchell back-to-back left-handed hitters near the top of the lineup.
"I think it's good for us to keep them in a row because they both got a little bit of power and have good swings to the opposite field, as well as pull when they need to," Norden said. "It's good to have someone as productive and patient as Nash hitting around (Max). If they try to pitch around Carson, they have to deal with Peyton."
While Nash provides a lefty bat in the batter's box, he's a righty on the mound as one of Mitchell's top long relief options. He owns a 3.00 ERA in seven innings of work, which includes starting Mitchell's 4-2 win over Rapid City Central.
Nash allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and two walks in a five-inning start.
"I was just trying to get the ball to my teammates," Nash said, adding he prefers to start over coming out of the bullpen. "They make plays behind me every game, so that's my approach when I go to the mound."
It shows by his two strikeouts in seven innings this season. Although, he limits hard-hit balls by throwing a "heavy ball," according to Norden.
"Hitters are expecting the ball to come off more, and the ball doesn't come off the bat as much," Norden said. "The ball just doesn't pop off the bat like it does for other pitchers."
When Nash isn't getting on base 70 percent of the time or throwing a heavy ball, he's in left field where he's yet to commit an error this season. Nash committed five errors in 102 chances during last year's spring and summer seasons.
"I started playing left field two summers ago, and I've liked it a lot," Nash said. "I like being alone in left, but sometimes I get to talk to Carson in center."
Mitchell travels to Sioux Falls Washington at 6 p.m. Tuesday.