BASEBALL: Senior doing damage from sixth spot in lineup
Outfielder Kory Benbow is hitting .417 with runners in scoring position this season
Hitting sixth in the Ball State University lineup has its advantages, and left fielder Kory Benbow has done his best to take advantage of them.
Benbow is off to a hot start batting behind second baseman Kolbrin Vitek, a preseason All-American, catcher Zach Dygert, who was selected by the Washington Nationals in last year's MLB Draft, and first baseman Ian Nielsen, a freshman All-American last year. In the first month of his senior year, Benbow is hitting .273 and with three home runs.
"I feel like when those guys get on base, I'm going to get a pitch to hit because [opposing pitchers aren't] going to want to keep putting guys on, keep putting guys on," he said. "When they are on, you're usually going to see a pitch you're able to hit in the at bat."
Benbow has made the most of those situations so far this year. With runners in scoring position, he is hitting .417.
Coach Greg Beals said Benbow's experience has allowed him to take advantage of the good hitting situations he finds himself in.
"Benny knows what his strengths and weaknesses are as a hitter," Beals said. "What he's doing now is just getting himself in the best situations that he can and hitting in the best counts and capitalizing on pitches to hit."
Benbow is a four-year starter for the Cardinals, something he says has helped him succeed this year.
"It just gets easier as you go," he said. "Everything starts to slow down. You learn how to react to different situations, not get too up when you're hitting, not get too down when you're hitting bad."
With that experience has also come the responsibility to be a leader. Beals thinks Benbow has done well in a leadership role.
"He's quite a bit of a leader with our outfield corps and in the clubhouse," Beals said.
Last season, Benbow struggled. His .259 average was the worst among the Cardinals who qualified for the batting title. But the Cowan High School graduate said he didn't change his approach this offseason.
"It was really about the same," Benbow said. "I focused a lot on drill work this year, just trying to keep my swing the same every at bat."
So far, the approach is working and Beals might be the most pleased with the results.
"I think that Kory's in a position in our lineup to do some damage," Beals said. "I feel like if he's playing well, our team is going to be doing well."
Kory Benbow, senior left fielder
.273 batting average
3 home runs
.527 slugging percentage
154 games played in his career
136 games started in his career