PREP BASEBALL

K.V. duo Wright and DeFries are a smash hit

2012-05-22T18:45:00Z 2012-05-23T05:24:04Z K.V. duo Wright and DeFries are a smash hitBy Hillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

Jake Wright was on pace to set or break Kankakee Valley's record for triples in a single season.

The catch is, baseball teammate Zach DeFries got there first, and then kept going, tying the state's record with 12. Wright, whose five triples already put him in the top five all-time at K.V., is willing to settle for other records.

The senior catcher's .559 batting average is on the cusp of the school record of .564 as the Kougars head into the postseason boasting not just one heavy hitter in the lineup, but two with averages that soar over the .425 mark and extra-base hits too boot.

"I kept wondering if they were going to hit a slump or taper off, when that's going to happen, if that's going to happen," coach Doug Greenlee said. "Fortunately, I don't see that because they're both fundamentally sound. Sure there have been some games haven't looked as good, but they've made the adjustments necessary."

Both were .375 hitters last season, who have quickly adapted to the new BBCOR bats. In terms of offseason preparation, the two couldn't be more different.

Wright worked on his bat speed in Valparaiso with Detroit Tigers' hitting coach Lloyd McClendon. DeFries took what he's learned from summer baseball coaches and spring high school coaches and worked independently in batting cages.

What the varied tactics produced is DeFries, an outfielder with 12 triples and five doubles, and Wright, the catcher with 12 doubles and five triples.

"We've been right there with each other all through high school," Wright said. "Zach's the one I try to compete with. What no one knows is that I tied school record triples. Then he set the new one."

DeFries bats leadoff for the Kougars, boasting a .607 on-base percentage that is only bettered by Wright, who bats third and gets on base 69.9 percent of the time. DeFries has 30 RBI as a leadoff hitter and Wright has 39.

"Everyone has up and down years, but this is so different," DeFries said. "I've never seen two guys who have been so consistent all year. It's just a great feeling."

DeFries, who said he didn't have more than a couple triples before in his career, worked on his speed in the offseason so that he'd have a quicker first step.

Both said they're feeling the ball come off the bat with a line drive that is finding the open holes.

"I think a lot of sports and athletics is preparation," Greenlee said. "I know these guys are prepared, both in what we do with them and what they do in the offseason."

The Kougars open their postseason by hosting the sectional with a 4:30 p.m. game today against Knox.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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