Sunday Sportlight

Published 11:24 pm Saturday, May 15, 2010

Josh Pancake says he’s a singles hitter. His statistics don’t agree.

At 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, the Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior baseball standout looks like a singles hitter. But a glance at his season and career stat sheet makes him look like a big slugger.

Pancake has smacked seven home runs this season and now has 16 for his career, tied for fourth on the Ironton all-time list and just three behind leader Bill Klaiber.

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“I’m surprised by my ability to hit home runs. I’ve always thought of myself as a base hit guy,” said Pancake. “I’m not the strongest guy. Football did help me get a little stronger. I guess all the hitting drills I do has helped my bat speed.”

Pancake hit a career-high eight home runs his sophomore season when the Fighting Tigers played at the small dimensions of Dow Chemical’s field while Ironton was constructing a new playing site.

But that wasn’t the reason for the power surge.

“He didn’t hit his home runs at home. He hit almost all of them on the road and they would have been out of any ball park,” said Ironton coach Tobey Schreck.

Pancake didn’t start well this season when he was hitting in the third and fourth spots of the lineup. But when Schreck moved him back to the leadoff position, his offense began to take off again.

“I feel more comfortable. I see better pitches. I have more walks than base hits. The majority of my walks came down in the lineup. If I get on base with two outs, there’s not much we can do,” said Pancake.

There is no complex hitting philosophy for Pancake he said, “if I see a pitch I can put the bat on, I swing. I have a good eye at the plate.”

The lineup isn’t the only place where Pancake moves around. He has played shortstop this season, but in the past he has played second base as well as the outfield. He also pitches.

“I’m comfortable where ever you put me,” said Pancake. “I’ve played shortstop most of my life. I’ve played the outfield and I think I can play with the best of them.

“Pitching is just something I do for the team to help us win. I don’t see myself pitching at all (in college).”

Playing against the best is what Pancake likes about the Ironton program. He said the league and non-league schedules are always quality teams.

“The best thing about baseball is getting to play against good players. It makes you better as a player,” said Pancake.

Josh Pancake is one of the better players. And that’s something everyone can agree.