Apparently some opponents figure Jeff Paschke has to cool off at some point because for some reason they are still pitching to him.
The Ahwatukee Foothills resident and Valley Christian sophomore is putting together an incredible season for the Trojans with offensive numbers that are hard to fathom.
"He is getting pitched to a little differently, but with the way our lineup is going right now they have to pitch to him," Valley Christian coach Rick Surls said. "The thing is I don't think this is just a hot streak. It's his approach and right now I am not telling him anything. I am just letting him do his thing."
And this isn't a small sample window.
Valley Christian began the week 15-4 and Paschke played in every game (and got a hit) and had 81 plate appearances.
The results: 45 hits in 65 at-bats.
Do the math. The answer: a .692 batting average.
And he isn't hitting little flares over the second baseman's head.
The right-handed shortstop had 14 doubles, a triple and 11 home runs (slugging percentage of 1.446), with 41 runs and 45 RBIs before three games this week.
"I'm just feeling good and seeing the ball well," Paschke said. "The guys around me in the lineup are protecting me. I couldn't do what I am doing without them."
That's because teammate Ryan Cooper's numbers are almost as unreal. The senior catcher is hitting .574 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs.
"I wouldn't have to go through those two guys," Trojan pitcher and Ahwatukee resident Will Lane said. "One, if not, both are going to bust you."
The 6-foot-4, 165-pound Paschke said getting more than a taste of varsity action as a freshman a year ago allowed him to come into this season comfortable instead of having to adjust to a new level.
He played in 21 of the team's 29 games and hit .412 with five home runs and 21 RBIs.
"Looking back that was the best thing we could have done for him," Surls said. "He was ready for it and it gave him the confidence that he could play at this level."
Paschke, who lives in the Desert Vista school boundaries, said he made a bit of an adjustment - straightened up in his stance - at the plate in club ball and he started to take off in fall ball.
"It lets me see the ball longer," he said. "I'm just trying to put the ball in play hard somewhere and it is working out pretty well so far. Last year, I was a dead pull hitter and now I am thinking right field and my hands have been quick enough to react to anything inside."
If Paschke continues on this pace he is going to shatter most of the Class 2A single season batting records and take a run at some of the state records regardless of class.
Here is a look at the 2A marks, followed by the overall state record:
• Hits: 63 (Matt Gracey, Yuma Catholic, 2006)/73 Bryce Eisenbart (Anthem Boulder Creek, 2010)
• Batting average: .767 (Nick Blancarte, Hayden, 1974/Same)
• Home runs: 12 (Eliot Montijo, Benson 1994)/ 22 (Corey Myers, Desert Vista 1999 and Kevin Cron, Mountain Pointe 2010).
• RBIs: 65 (Erick Martinez Yuma Catholic 2006)/ 81 (Myers, 1999)
• Runs: 59 (Gracey, YC 2006)/ 70 (Myers, 1999)
• Doubles: 23 (Ryno Bethel Willcox 1998), 24 Bryce Eisenbert (BC) 2010
While Paschke said the RBI record is the one he has his eye on, he is more focused on what the team is doing.
The Trojans face rival Scottsdale Christian Academy today. SCA entered the week leading the Class 2A Central Region, but Valley Christian pounded away for a 20-5 win last week as Paschke went 5-for-5 with three runs, two doubles, a home run and two RBIs.
"They kept pitching to him and he kept hitting it," Surls said. "He was locked in, but of course that is the way he has been all year."
The winning pitcher was Lane as he allowed three earned in five innings for the win. He struck out nine walked two and went 3-for-3 with five RBIs.
On the season Lane was 3-2 with a 5.12 ERA entering the week. The right-hander, who also plays first and third, struggled early in the season but feels he is starting to reach a comfort level that could allow him to become the ace he was expected to be at the start.
"It's coming," Lane said. "I had some problems early (8 earned runs in 2 2/3 innings against Yuma Catholic), but in that win over Scottsdale Christian I threw better than I have all year."
The Trojans have a third Ahwatukee resident in second baseman Matt Batlle (.318, 16 RBIs), but the senior recently broke his thumb and will be out for a few weeks.
"Matt has been having a solid senior season and we are going to miss him at second base," Surls said. "Hopefully we can get him back at the tail of the season."
By then who knows what kind of numbers Paschke will have complied by then, but the latter can't wait to find out.
"I know the numbers are crazy, but I think I can keep it going," he said. "I am not trying to think about it too much. I'm just trying to help us win whether it is with my defense, pitching or hitting. We have a good mix of seniors and younger players and I want to help the seniors win a state championship."
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