GRIFFITH | Matt Colomes ran into a hitting slump this season, not that his batting average shows it.
He was 1-for-17 at one point, calling the one hit he was credited with "a gift."
The senior adjusted both his swing and approach at the plate, and as the Griffith baseball team enters Saturday's Class 3A Regional semifinal against Rochester, he leads the host Panthers with a .456 average.
"I had to hit every day," Colomes said. "I'd hit hours and hours a day. I was too worried about working on my mechanics, but it turned out my head was the biggest issue. Baseball is all about the mental game. When you can master the art of hitting, then you have to master the mental part."
The art of hitting, Colomes could sketch in his sleep. He hit a double in each of the first four games of the season, en route to a 14-double year that broke a 10-year-old school record.
"He was getting himself out as much as guys were getting him out," Griffith coach Brian Jennings said. "Once he relaxed and got himself in a position to hit the ball hard, he started to see success again. You can hit the ball right on the screws and get out, or you can get a flare and get a single. What it came down to for him was just being comfortable at the plate again."
Part of finding that comfort, Jennings asked Colomes to lay off hitting practice for a day or two. Just put the bat down, he was told.
As much as Colomes wanted to, he simply couldn't.
"I don't like the feeling of not picking up a bat," Colomes said. "When I was in a slump, the coaches said 'don't hit,' and I just couldn't not work on it."
After working through his hitting maladies with Griffith assistant Ryan Bridges, Colomes put just as much hard work into becoming a defensive stalwart.
An outfielder with speed, Colomes doesn't let a ball fall anywhere in his radius.
"He takes a lot of pride in his arm, period," Jennings said. "He'll break up a double play, he'll dive for a ball, whatever the team needs, he'll do it. He's very intense, very hard-nosed kid."
Also a football player, Colomes opted for baseball when it came to finding a college scholarship. He's headed to Benedictine in the fall to major in physics with a minor in chemistry.