Anyone who hits close to .500 during the season would know that he’s in an unbelievable groove. Or so it would seem.
“People would ask me, ‘Do you realize how well you are hitting right now?’” Hunter Strong said. “I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I didn’t know how good I had hit until the end of the season.”
The Sheridan junior center fielder batted .490 with 50 hits, drove in 42 runs and posted an on-base percentage of .555 – all school records. Numbers worthy of Southeast Arkansas’ Hitter of the Year, as Strong has been honored by The Commercial.
The hit total also ranks seventh all-time in Arkansas for a single season.
It’s a one-at-bat-at-a-time approach the Central Arkansas and Southern Arkansas recruit uses to become a consistent hitter.
“I’m trying to get on base,” Strong said. “My main goal is to get on base, whether it’s a single, double, walk, home run or whatever.
“I hit every day. After I game, I hit. No matter how I hit, I shake it off.”
Only Watson Chapel senior Landen Colson – who went .526 – had a better hitting average in Southeast Arkansas this season, but Strong drove in almost twice as many runs as he helped the Yellowjackets reach the round of eight in the 6A state playoffs. Strong also has been selected to the XI Classic underclassman showcase, to be held next month at Arkansas State University.
Adjustments and mental approach at the plate are key factors in Strong’s consistency, Sheridan coach Mike Moore said.
“He’s really a student of the game,” Moore said. “He learns all he can about how he can hit a lot. He makes adjustments in one pitch.
“He hits every day. He’s a model of what you do every day if you want to be great. He basically is just trying to have a good at-bat. That’s his formula for success.”
Strong’s batting average doesn’t overshadow his running ability. He stole 23 bases in 25 attempts this season.
Strong keeps his focus away from batting statistics, whether he hits perfectly one game or not. He credits his father for pushing him to reach base every opportunity and throwing to him while he works on his swing.
For all his batting ability, one statistic is missing from Strong’s line this season – a home run. He said he’s reached the wall a few times, but he doesn’t concern himself with the round-tripper as much as getting to first base. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder does think the homers will come as he continues to get bigger and stronger.
“When he didn’t get a hit, he walked,” Moore said. “He got a sac bunt or a sac fly. He probably had several games where he had three hits.”
Strong fits the mold of Moore’s preferred hitter – the one who bats for consistency rather than hitting for power.
“You have a better chance to score if you hit more consistently,” Moore said.