MUNSTER | Munster second baseman Scott Shaner likes to see the silver lining on all the storm clouds that rolled through the region in recent weeks.
"I think the whole team needed a break to work," Shaner said. "Now we're back on track."
Munster had three games washed out last week, and spent most of those days in the wrestling room, their hitting cages down and bats swinging away.
Shaner worked on his stance, not making drastic changes, but avoiding lunging at the ball. He also improved his comfort level swinging at the first pitch.
It has made all the difference.
In the Mustangs' first game back, the first three balls Shaner hit were doubles. The fourth was caught on the dive by a Morton outfielder to rob Shaner of a 4-for-4 day.
"Right now I know (the ball) looks like a watermelon to him and I hope it continues that way," Munster coach Bob Shinkan said. "He's really attacking the first strikes; he's not trying to get deep into the count when you have to be at the mercy of the pitcher's pitch or the umpire's call."
Shinkan also moved Shaner up in the lineup, from the No. 9 hole to No. 2. The senior is seeing different pitches than he would have later in the order, and still swinging at that first one.
"I was lunging really bad at the ball, so that's my Achilles heel, that I lung at the ball and everyone knows that," Shaner said. "I've been fortunate the last couple games. I'm just trying to get on base."
Skip ahead to the Mustangs' second game back, a Northwest Crossroads Conference tilt against Griffith. Shaner knocked three more doubles in his first three at-bats, improving his season stats to six doubles in two days and seven overall.
He's hitting .382 with a .500 on-base percentage. He leads his team with 15 RBIs and has scored nine runs.
"I was thinking Scotty would be my perfect two-hitter at the beginning of the season because he has all the tools not only to put the ball in play but also he's a very good bunter and you want that in your two-spot," Shinkan said. "For one reason or another we had a different lineup and we needed some production coming out of that spot there and we just moved Scott there and the first game against Morton, he went 3-for-4."
Shaner said he's not superstitious about his hitting explosion. He's changed his socks and washed them. He's not trying to keep his bat in a special place at home. He's remaining constant in every at-bat.
"I'm not about (superstition) at all," Shaner said. "I'm trying to swing at the first pitch I see and be aggressive. That's how I've always been. Some people like to wait around to find something, but if I see a pitch, I swing at it. But, like I said, when I was lunging at it, it's not going to be happening for me at all."