Greg Jones | The Journal Gazette Huntington North senior Collin Landrum steals second base Monday in a 20-1 win over Muncie Central. After 19 games, the Vikings had a school-record 130 stolen bases.
Friday, May 11, 2018 1:00 am
Vikes have no problem pilfering
130 stolen bases in 19 games for 4A's No. 3 team
GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette
HUNTINGTON – What you won't see a lot of out of the Huntington North baseball team is home runs. But what you will see is a lot of solid pitching, defense and stolen bases – a school record amount of thefts.
Oh yeah, and wins.
As of Monday, the Vikings had swiped a school-best 130 bases en route to an 18-1 record and a No. 3 state ranking in Class 4A.
Second-year Huntington North coach Jarod Hammel said the team did a self-assessment before the season began, and the results showed the details, including stolen bases, were going to carry the Vikings.
“What do we have to do to be successful, and let's pour ourselves into that,” Hammel said of the self-assessment. “The long ball wasn't on the list, but some other things were. Fortunately we could sell those little things, and the kids gobble up what we are teaching. We are always adding, and we are always trying to fine-tune. And our staff and kids are never satisfied with what we do. So that's refreshing as a coach, and it makes them easy to coach.
“You want to pressure the defense. Most high school defenses, if you pressure them enough, will break down, and we want to find as many avenues to apply pressure as we can.”
After 19 games, the Vikings had 149 stolen base attempts and had been thrown out only 19 times, to the tune of an 87 percent success rate.
Ian McCutcheon leads the team with 22 with Collin Landrum and Jarret Gray each swiping 19. Seven players have at least 10 stolen bases.
“We are very aggressive on the bases,” said Landrum, a senior and the team's leadoff batter. “You just want to put the ball into play and good things happen; ... and keeping the strikeouts low, that's our style.”
Landrum leads the team with one home run, the only one hit by the team so far this season. But that hasn't slowed the offense, which has outscored opponents 167-58.
Elliott Lesperance leads the team with a 6-0 record, and the defense has committed only 20 errors.
With continued work on getting quality at-bats, especially with situational hitting, the hope for the Vikings is to translate their base-running prowess into postseason success.
“I can't put what I see in them into numbers,” Hammel said of any team goals. “What I can tell you is we set out to play our best baseball at the end of the year, and these guys are getting there. They aren't there yet, but they are sure getting there.
“This is the most fun group I have ever had. They are working together and pushing each other and staying hungry and humble.”
Huntington North will play host to a sectional May 23-28, the first step to a possible long run in the postseason.
“This team can go really far,” Landrum said. “Obviously we want to win a state championship and put up a banner here for the first time, but we are taking it a game at a time, and we don't want to overlook any teams.”