Aggressive in April

Problems for Stanford on the diamond this season have been largely found at the plate. Tuesday night's 15-hit, 12-run explosion was a welcome change of pace for the weak-hitting Cardinal. It was also another strong outing for red-hot senior Chris Lewis. After a horrendous sub-.200 first two months of the season, Lewis is hitting more than twice that average in April. Why?

One of the sources of optimism for Stanford Baseball in 2006 was the return of three senior position players to The Farm, adding leadership, experience and production to the lineup.  For both the Cardinal and Chris Lewis, the season did not start as planned.  The infielder had some lapses on the field, which was not totally unexpected, but more surprising was his performance at the plate.  Lewis ended March hitting just .186, totaling 13 hits in his first 21 games.

The month of April has been a completely different story for Lewis at the plate.  The 6'0" senior is hitting .441 this month.  After just one multi-hit game in his first 21 contests, Lewis has now notched five multi-hit performances in his last 10 games.  Only once in the month of April has the red-hot senior failed to hit safely.

Tuesday night, Lewis was 3-of-5 at the plate in Stanford's 12-5 win over Sacramento State, raising his season average to .269.  The third baseman had two doubles and three RBI.  Afterward, he spoke with The Bootleg on his April improvement at the plate.

"I'm trying to take a little bit more of a aggressive approach at the plate," Lewis explains.  "I think before I was too passive.  On the one hand, you want to let the ball get deep.  You want to be relaxed.  But at the same time, you can't take a passive approach at the plate.  You want to be aggressive.  You want to attack the baseball."

"I just changed my approach a little bit," he continues.  "I'm looking to the pull the ball a little more.  I'm looking for pitches I can drive and get in the air in the outfield.  Try to help the team win and get some RBIs because that's been our biggest problem: scoring runs.  I'm basically trying to hit the ball as hard as I can every time.  If can do that, I think I'll have a successful night, whether I go 0-for-5 or 5-for-5.  If I can put the ball on the barrel of my bat as much as possible, it's going to give us a chance to win ballgames."

As excited as Chris Lewis was for his three-hit evening, he was most ecstatic about what the Cardinal as a team did on the scoreboard against the Hornets.

"I think it's huge.  Anytime you throw up 12 runs on 15 hits, it's going to work wonders for the way the team carries itself," Lewis offers.  "We're excited.  A night like this gives us a little momentum going into the weekend."

All around, it was strong night for the three senior position players who were expected to play a big part in the Cardinal's 2006 success.  More games like Tuesday night could turn around the fortunes of this 16-15 team.

"I think tonight was a little bit more indicative of what you are going to see the rest of the way out.  Chris Minaker going 3-for-4.  Myself getting three hits.  John Hester [2-for-5] getting some big hits," the hopeful senior details.

"I'm excited because we're on the way up. It couldn't get any worse, to be honest with you. So we're on the way up, I'll tell you that."

Stanford next hits the road for a three-game Pac-10 series at Arizona, starting Friday.

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