Hot Hansen leads Wildcat turnaround
3 and 2 team rebounds from early season troubles
Aaron Hansen's baseball swing early in the 3 and 2 Baseball season resembled that of the golfer who is more concerned with how far he can hit a tee shot than with keeping his eye on the ball. He went for the kill every time.
Now that Hansen has settled into his swing, he has become an integral part of the Wildcat's turn around over the past couple of weeks.
"I used to swing for the fences," Hansen said of his season-opening slump at the plate. "Now I'm swinging at the ball. I'm seeing the ball much better."
Now that he's having better success at the plate, Hansen feels confident with a bat in his hand.
"You always feel like you're going to get a hit," he said. "Sometimes you do; sometimes you don't. I guess I'm getting lucky now."
You can call it luck if you want, but Hansen has carried a big stick over the past five games in which the Wildcats won four contests.
Hansen has hit .500 (7-14) over the past two weeks. He scored four runs and drove in five more. His on-base percentage during that time was .533, and he carried a .643 slugging percentage.
In a split with Olathe Northwest last week and a single-game win over St. Thomas Aquinas, Hansen's big stick was even more evident.
His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in those games were all .545. Hansen was also responsible for two runs and five RBIs in those three games.
In fact, Hansen has been so hot that he has raised his batting average, which stood at a sub par .182 after seven games, to .306. He now has an on-base percentage of .324 versus the .182 he put up early, and his slugging percentage for the season now stands at .389
Despite Hansen and his teammates' improved hitting and pitching, the Wildcat's have still struggled to put their opposition away. That's because their defense has been porous at times.
For example, in the game against Aquinas, De Soto built a 7-2 lead after its half of the sixth inning only to see it slip away when two errors and two passed balls helped the Saints rally to within 7-5 going into the final inning. All three runs that Tyler Farmer gave up in the inning were unearned.
Taylor Burnett has been a key reason the Wildcats have been able to turn their pitching fortunes around. When the ace takes the mound you can almost guarantee a win.
Against Northwest last week, Burnett led the Wildcats to a 3-2 win on the strength of 11 strikeouts. He now has 20 strikeouts in his last two outings and has given up only five runs. Only three of those runs were earned.
He had two walks against the Ravens and hit one batter to keep the Northwest base runners to a minimum.
Relief pitcher Daniel Hoschouer has become an effective closer for the Wildcat pitching staff in recent games. Last week, he took the mound against both the Ravens (in the second game) and Aquinas.
Against the Ravens on Wednesday, Hoschouer struggled against the first two batters after giving up back-to-back singles. But great defense helped him retire the next three batters, securing the win.
Against Aquinas, Hoschouer faced three batters and retired them all on only 10 pitches.
"During the first part of the season,we weren't getting good efforts from our pitchers," Hoschouer said. "But now we've turned that around. We have three or four guys who are strong in the first part of a game. We also have guys like myself that can step in and finish guys off and throw strikes late."
The Wildcats rallied twice from deficits in the first game against Olathe Northwest to steal the 3-2 win.
The Ravens got on the board first when Burnett hit a batsman who then stole second base and scored on a single.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Wildcats struck back and tied the game at 1-1 when Kenny Price scored on a passed ball.
Price led off the inning with a double to get into scoring position. He took third when Austin DeGraeve laid down a sacrifice bunt that rolled down the first-base line.
Olathe Northwest took the lead for the last time in the game in the fifth inning with the help of three De Soto errors.
In the sixth inning, De Soto tallied two, earning the win. Colby Childers reached first base to lead off the inning when three Ravens watched his pop fly drop in short right field. He took second with a steal and came home on Tyler Farmer's stand-up triple. Farmer scored when Hoschouer was hit by a pitch and Burnett singled up the middle to provide the winning margin.
The Wildcats fell behind 9-3 in the second game before rallying in the fourth and fifth innings to cut the margin to 9-8.
De Soto scored two runs in the fourth frame on a single by DeGraeve and Farmer's inside-the-park home run to deep center field, making the score 9-5. The Wildcats narrowed the gap even more in the fifth inning. Raven errors aided the Wildcats' cause in the stanza.
Hansen reached first to lead off the inning on a throwing error from third base. Riley Pierce walked to put Hansen in scoring position and then Childers brought him home with a single to right.
Pierce scored on Dustin Grimes ground out to the pitcher and Childers pulled the Wildcats to within a run when he scored on a throwing error on the same play.
Farmer almost evened the score in the bottom of the sixth inning but was thrown out trying to score on a passed ball. He walked to lead off the inning and stole second. Farmer took third when the Ravens tried to throw Burnett out at first.
The game ended after six innings of play because of the two-hour time limit.
Just like Hansen, Farmer was hot at the plate. He came up a double short of hitting for the cycle in the two games against the Ravens.
Farmer had a triple in three at bats in the first game, and put together a single and a home run in three at bats in the second game. The short stop scored two runs and pounded in three RBIs.
De Soto, 5-7, takes the field again Thursday against the Eagles. The single game starts at 6:30 p.m. at field 24 at the west 3 and 2 baseball complex.