From top to bottom, instead of top to middle, the Grapevine baseball team counts on batters to deliver the hits.
“None of them fit the mold for five through nine hitters,” said Grapevine coach Steve Hutcherson, whose Mustangs meet Lake Dallas in the Class 5A Region I finals Friday and Saturday at Dallas Baptist University.
“Every one of them is capable of hitting in our leadoff spots, but you can only have four and for me, my job is to put guys in the spots that will make them successful.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise is in the No. 9 spot where second baseman Boone Montgomery, who batted .348 in the regular season, is 10 for 23 in the postseason with six runs scored and nine RBIs.
No. 6 hitter James Wyche is batting 30 points higher (.375) in the postseason after a 19-for-55 regular-season effort.
Wyche is second on the team in postseason hits (12) behind leadoff hitter Connor Neuman, who is 13 for 30.
But perhaps the biggest difference is that the hitters in the Nos. 5-9 spots have six more extra-base hits than the top four hitters (9-3).
Montgomery has been the fire starter with three triples in the playoffs.
“When it comes to baseball, hitting is one of the luckiest things in the game,” Hutcherson said. “You have to look past this idea that hits are the only thing that matter and we’ve done that with this group.
“We wanted to drop that pressure that if you went 0-3 in a game, you were going to lose your spot in the lineup. I want to see hard hit balls and understand if a hitter puts the ball in play.”
That’s meant a world of difference to seniors Tanner Gibson, Paul McCullough, Kyle Flamm, Wyche and Ty Jones.
“None of them got significant playing time last year and there was no way of knowing whether or not any of them would or could produce like this,” Hutcherson said. “Every one of them were capable and they’ve been aggressive at the plate.
“But aggressive doesn’t mean they reached base, but maybe it means they fouled some pitches off or made the pitcher work harder to get the out. For these guys, I can’t think of one wasted at-bat this season.”