Baseball and getting out of ‘hitting slump’ of big concern

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Matthew Beard, 11, of Old Lycoming Township, may have been trying to build the fastest car at the recent Williamsport Soap Box Derby construction clinic, but his thoughts were on his performance behind the plate.

His slumping batting average over the past few games while he was playing right field for his team in the Williamsport Area Little League had bothered him.

On defense, he had no trouble snagging fly balls, but was swinging and missing, of late, as a few select pitchers were hurling fastballs and off-speed pitches his direction.

“You’re trying not to lunge and turning your front foot in,” said Mark Beard, his supportive father who was at the clinic to help build the car with his son and engage in some father and son bonding time.

Matthew nodded and smiled at his dad’s advice.

By the way, even the Major League Baseball’s best slide into hitting slumps.

When asked what his favorite professional team is, Matthew quietly said, “the New York Yankees.”

Well, the Bronx Bombers, as of May 20, had a 27-16 record and stood atop all five teams in the American League East Division.

And, yes, Yankee greats, including powerhouse hitters, such as Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, famously have had their share of battling slumps, only to get out of them with some criticism but equal praise when they start to hit again.

With 20 games left in his season, Matthew has time to get back into the groove.

At the very least, he promised to continue to improve and work on his fundamentals.

He had that smile again as he returned to work on the derby car, one that could end up in first place at the annual Soap Box Derby June 15.