Hickman baseball team beats Eureka with Colby Fitch hitting leadoff

Friday, April 5, 2013 | 10:02 p.m. CDT; updated 6:37 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 6, 2013
The Hickman baseball team scored five runs in the seventh inning to beat Eureka 14-13 in the Capitol City Baseball Invitational on Friday in Jefferson City.

JEFFERSON CITY — On Friday, just as he has been for the whole season, Colby Fitch was extremely dangerous at the bat. The Kewpies' 14-13 walk-off victory over Eureka saw the junior catcher get two hits and two RBIs, including one in his team's five-run seventh inning.

Fitch also had two hits, including a grand slam, in Hickman's other game Friday, a 11-4 victory over Fatima. He got walked twice and had a double against Helias on Wednesday.

Those three games have shared another common thread: Fitch has been hitting leadoff.

Leadoff hitters, both in popular depiction and reality, are often fast, skilled in reaching base and not very powerful. Fitch only fits one of those qualifiers. 

As a catcher, he is predictably not the fleetest on his feet. He has immense power, able to drive balls into the gap and over outfielders' heads with a quick, compact swing that contains hardly any wasted motion. 

But he does get on base prolifically. When pitchers avoid the strike zone against the Louisville commit, as they often do, Fitch is very willing to take a walk. He has above-average plate discipline and rarely takes a bad swing. 

Since Fitch was first placed in that spot in the order Wednesday, the Kewpies have scored 33 runs in three games. The strategy might come across as unconventional, but it's certainly working.

"It's not my favorite thing, but whatever helps the team, I'm willing to do, no matter what position, whatever role they put me in," Fitch said.

He gets on base, and then his teammates then have the opportunity to drive him in. They succeeded at doing that Friday, as Fitch came around to score both times he reached. 

"We really like the guys that are hitting behind him, and early in the year, we had (senior left fielder) Jake (Cowan) hitting in front of Colby, which was fine, but now we got Jake hitting behind Colby, and now we're giving Jake a chance also to drive in runs," Hickman coach Dan Devine Jr. said. 

But the RBI chances aren't being taken away from Fitch, either. Devine said he has been impressed with seniors Ryan McMahan and Ben Welch, who hit at the bottom of the order and have been reaching base and giving Fitch opportunities to plate runners.  

As for whether Fitch is going to be cemented in the leadoff spot for the foreseeable future, Devine said it depends on whether that placement is "the best thing for the team."

And in the end, it doesn't matter much where a player of Fitch's skill bats in the order.

"The thing that Colby does is he hits," Devine Jr. said. "And he plays the game really well, and so I'm not too worried about Colby, he's going to play baseball no matter what."

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