It’s been a week since Dimond leadoff hitter Shane Stephan has made an out in the Cook Inlet Conference.
That’s not an exaggeration.
The last time he made an out was May 4 against West. Since then, the senior shortstop has reached base in 12 consecutive plate appearances stretched over three games on 9-for-9 hitting and three walks.
“My good friend Peyton (Montagna), he just asked if I had gotten out the last couple games and I was like, ‘I don’t think I have,’” Stephan said with a laugh. “Then I looked it up and I was like, ‘Dang.’ I didn’t even know.”
Unlike a no-hitter, when nobody talks to the pitcher in fear of jinxing him, his teammates have no problem talking to Stephan about his sensational stretch at the plate. Stephan isn’t a superstitious slugger, so he doesn’t care.
“We’re pretty nonchalant about it,” he said. “We’re happier with winning.”
Dimond (6-3) sits atop the CIC baseball standings with a 3-0 record entering Friday night’s league game against two-time defending state champion South at Mulcahy Stadium.
Dimond’s offense starts with Stephan, who is the ultimate table setter with a .600 on-base percentage. He has scored 15 runs in nine games this year, including nine over his last three games thanks to his awesome on-base streak.
12 UP, 12 ON
Stephan’s Last Dozen Plate Appearances
Stephan leads the team with a .533 batting average on 16-for-30 hitting. Last year, he hit .483 in 16 games and finished the season on fire after going 9-for-12 at the CIC Tournament.
Never mind the shoes – it’s gotta be the bat, man.
“I went back to the wood and everything started to come together,” Stephan said. “I practiced all winter with this wood composite bat that I had, but we broke it right before the season and so I didn’t get to use it at the beginning of the season. I’m more comfortable with the wood bat.”
Hitting is his specialty, but he was batting just .333 (7-for-21) through the first six games and mired in a 2-for-15 skid before catching fire recently. His struggles forced him to get back to basics.
“I was just like, ‘let’s have fun with it.’ Go up there and have fun,” Stephan said. “It’s really as simple as that.”
The right-handed slugger didn’t change his approach because of his mini slump but rather stayed true to his process and worked himself back, and then delivered one of the greatest three-game offensive stretches in CIC history.
“I know I have the skills. Last year I did it. In the years before I’ve done it as well,” Stephan said. “Relax and have fun that’s really what got me to where I am right now, I think, especially in that last Service game. That was an important one. Going 2-for-2 with two walks. I was pretty stoked.”
Dimond’s 4-3 victory over the previously undefeated Cougars catapulted the Lynx into sole possession of first place in the league.
Dimond is looking for its first CIC championship since 2010.
“I’m definitely happy with what I’ve been able to do on my own, but I’m very happy with what our team has been able to do,” Stephan said. “Glowing positively, which is what you need to win baseball games in my opinion. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“Everyone’s been pulling their weight. The bench guys are doing what they can to be helpful and positive and that’s a big part of the game as well. You know, it’s not just the players on the field, it’s also the guys on our bench that are helping and being positive.”
THIS WEEK IN THE CIC
4:15pm – West vs. Chugiak (L) @Mulcahy
6:45pm – Bartlett vs. Service (L) @Mulcahy
4:15pm – East vs. E.R. (L) @Mulcahy
6:45pm – South vs. Dimond (L) @Mulcahy
6:45pm – Colony vs. West NL @Bartlett
10am – E.R. vs. Dimond (L) @Mulcahy
1pm – Dimond vs. E.R. NL @Kosinski
1pm – Bartlett vs. West (L) @Mulcahy
4pm – South vs. Service (L) @Mulcahy
7pm – Service vs. South NL @Kosinski
7pm – Chugiak vs. East (L) @Mulcahy