Even though Ashlyn Wheeler batted .389 last season, the Hebron senior felt like she would "hit" as a senior.
"There's always room for improvement," said Wheeler, who spent many offseason days honing her hitting skills at Gump's Dugout in Kouts. "There's always something to fix."
Entering Friday's game against Chesterton, Wheeler was batting .500. with a home run, double and seven RBIs for the Times No. 7 Hawks (4-1). She also has a .571 on-base percentage and .722 slugging percentage.
"She's a dynamic hitter for us," Hebron coach Mike McLindon said of his designated player/first baseman. "She's truly embraced her role."
That role has primarily been as a designated player. Wheeler had surgery to repair a torn labrum in her throwing arm as a freshman and saw less time in the field. Even with a healed shoulder, Wheeler has primarily just hit for the Hawks.
"I'm OK with it," said Wheeler, who has seen some time at first base the last two seasons. "It's not like it's a weak spot for us, because our defense is playing really well.
"I'm also hitting the ball."
McLindon loves Wheeler's unselfish nature, mainly because it symbolizes the team's WIN motto: when I'm needed.
"I know she wants to be out (in the field). Every player does, and I know she does," he said. "It's awesome that she doesn't carry that out to the plate. She's really been a positive presence for us."
Last season, the team advanced to the program's first semistate championship game and finished with a school record 25-6 mark. This season, McLindon asked for some senior leadership, and he's received that from Wheeler.
"We had problems at an early practice, and I wasn't happy," McLindon said. "I told her that I was looking for leaders, because we couldn't have what happened.
"Talk about grabbing the bull by the horn, she's talking with players -- telling someone to pick up their head after a mistake. It's one thing to tell players something, but it means more if it comes from one of their teammates."
She also leads with her work ethic. McLindon said that Wheeler is tireless with her hitting routine, constantly tweaking things or making adjustments during games.
"My coaches tell me to look for the gaps, and I strive to do that," Wheeler said. "I just love to hit. It's a great feeling when the ball hits the bat.
"I'm just looking for the perfect swing."