Court finding his place at the plate
Mike Steed must have seen something in Ryan Court. Locked into the four-hole is what has proved to be a mostly anemic offence, the Border Cats manager stuck with the Sleepy Hollow, Ill. native as he slumped his way through the first half.
Mike Steed must have seen something in Ryan Court.
Locked into the four-hole is what has proved to be a mostly anemic offence, the Border Cats manager stuck with the Sleepy Hollow, Ill. native as he slumped his way through the first half.
The patience has paid off.
Struggling to keep his head above .200, Steed said the Illinois State University senior had an epiphany on the road a couple of weeks ago in Brainerd, Wis. He hasn’t stopped hitting since.
Court has raised his average to .250 and started doing what he was brought to Thunder Bay to do, producing runs. In his past 10 games the Cats third baseman has gone 14-for-42, smacked two homeruns and driven in six runs, raising his average 56 points in the process.
He’s also had three three-hit games during the stretch.
"I felt good all summer," Court said Thursday, after his team fell 3-1 to Brainerd on home turf. "I think at the beginning of the year a lot of the balls I was hitting were just right at people. I think those balls are starting to drop. I credit just keeping a positive attitude the whole summer."
Steed said Court’s the type of kid who is almost too smart for himself sometimes, which on the ball field can be more trouble than it’s worth.
"When things don’t go his way, he overanalyzes it. We sat him down and just had a talk with him about just letting his ability take over. I mean, if you look at him, he’s a pro-body type of kid. Defensively he’s got a good arm. Yeah, he’s made a couple of errors out there, but more times than not he’s going to make a play for us," Steed said.
"And it’s just showed that sticking with it and not over-thinking his at bats every time he gets out, it’s turned him around."
Court’s not sure that’s exactly how he would reason his struggles at the plate, but then again, as he thought about it, he figured maybe there was something to it.
"I don’t think I’ve done that very much, but maybe that’s a good point. Maybe that’s something I should watch out for, or something I should pay attention to," he said.
That Steed stuck with him through the bad times hasn’t gone unnoticed by Court, a .295 hitter who led his college team with 10 homeruns last season, the same school where his father played football and tennis.
"I think he knew that I was going to break out eventually."
But Court admitted it wasn’t easy walking back to the bench in the early part of the season, knowing he’d let his teammates down in crucial situations, unable to get enough wood on the ball to make a difference on most nights.
"It was tough, especially because I knew I was feeling good at the plate. When you’re not getting hits when you’re feeling good, it’s tough to figure out why you’re not hitting well. It was tough, but once you get that confidence back and you start rolling with it, that’s 95 per cent of baseball."
Court and the Border Cats (2-5) wrap up their mini-set with Brainerd Friday night at Port Arthur Stadium and host Alexandria on Saturday and Sunday before a three-day Northwoods League all-star break.