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Neugebauer's bat key factor in hot start

Eight games is a small sample size, but the numbers Spencer Neugebauer has put up at the plate for the Mitchell Kernel baseball team are difficult to ignore.

Spencer Neugebauer stands at the plate during a doubleheader Friday against Brandon Valley at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Spencer Neugebauer stands at the plate during a doubleheader Friday against Brandon Valley at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

Eight games is a small sample size, but the numbers Spencer Neugebauer has put up at the plate for the Mitchell Kernel baseball team are difficult to ignore.

The team's leadoff hitter has been swinging a hot bat for the Kernels' spring team, helping them to a 7-1 start to the season.

The junior second baseman is batting .638 (23-for-36) with an on-base percentage of .675. Neugebauer has scored 22 runs, tallied 18 RBIs, stolen six bases and drawn four walks.

Mitchell head coach Luke Norden said a key to Neugebauer's hot start might stem from not being afraid to swing at hittable pitches early in counts.

"Some of the younger guys are probably taking too many pitches," Norden said. "Spencer isn't doing that, he's swinging at the good ones. If he gets one down right down the middle, he isn't missing them."

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Five of Neugebauer's 23 hits have been triples and three have been doubles, giving him a slugging percentage of .944.

"Early on this season, he's already shown more power than he has shown in the last couple of years," Norden said. "Some of the balls he has hit, even singles, he's hitting the ball a lot harder than he has the last couple of years."

While Neugebauer currently is entrenched at second base for the Kernels, Norden said he would probably be best defensively suited as an outfielder. A move to the outfield isn't likely to happen this season because Neugebauer's defensive range in the infield is a necessity for Mitchell.

"If he ends up playing in college, his best position he could play is in the outfield," Norden said. "For us, as a second baseman, however, he covers a lot of ground. I didn't want to move him to shortstop because there's a lot of right-handers that hit flares to right field. Having him back on those is like having another outfielder out there."

Second base might not be the only position Neugebauer plays for Mitchell this season. After beefing up his arm strength in the offseason, Norden said Neugebauer will pitch this season for the Kernels.

"He's going to throw some innings for us, and he hasn't thrown a lot in the past," Norden said.
"I think the best thing about Spencer is he provides all of those roles for your team as one player. But arm strength will be his biggest gain from last year to make him a more complete player."

Also a running back for the Mitchell football team, Norden said Neugebauer hasn't made any future college decisions about which sport he's going to play, or if he'll even play a sport at the next level.

"I think he's open right now for anything," Norden said. "He's quite a good football player too and has tools there. Before starting his senior year, I think he's open to seeing how things play out. I think he's just playing it by ear right now."

Related Topics: KERNELSBASEBALL
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