CEDAR LAKE | Each time Dan Stum hits the ball, he collects enough confidence to create that next hit.
A 3-for-3 outing in a Hanover Central loss to Noblesville helped propel him to 3-for-4 production in the next matchup against Hammond Tech.
His 2-for-4 day in a loss to Highland was enough to pump him up for a 3-for-4 feat in a win over Hebron.
"You know what he's got right now? He's got confidence," Hanover Central coach Doug Nelson said.
Stum's confidence has helped him to a .619 average over the Wildcats' first six games of the season.
"He's seeing the ball, he understands what people are throwing at him," Nelson said. "He's got a good approach up there. He's got flat out confidence right now."
Stum, who was third in the lineup two years ago when the Wildcats reached the Class 2A state title game, is hitting fourth, a sweet spot he's happy to be in.
He's tied for second with seven RBIs and tied for first scoring 10 runs.
All of the production this year has come with a caveat: Stum opened the season with an injury.
In his first pitching outing against Homestead, Stum felt a nerve twinge in his throwing arm. It was enough to stop forward momentum and hold him out of the rotation.
"One pitch it was perfectly fine and then I threw a sinker and I felt a sharp pain shoot through my chest," Stum said. "It was a pretty decently strained pectoral muscle."
The pain didn't stop his hitting motion and the Wildcats couldn't do without Stum's bat in the lineup.
He played second base (a first for the senior) and his usual positions of third and shortstop while he underwent rehabilitation and worked out his arm pains.
The rehab worked, and Stum threw a complete game, a 10-1 win over Hebron, on Tuesday.
"(The injury) obviously didn't hurt me too much hitting," Stum said. "I'm in that place that I'm seeing the ball very well, making good contact and if you hit the ball hard, good things will happen."
The confidence Stum is gaining at the plate has translated to his performance on the mound, Nelson said. Stum has five strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings with a 1.67 ERA.
"He walks on the field expecting good things to happen," Nelson said. "He's not the kind of pitcher that throws the ball right by you, and being sporadic as we are right now with games, it's hard to get into a rhythm out there when you're pitching once a week.
"He might not be our No. 1, but he thinks he is, and that confidence is a good thing to have."