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Baseball: Senior Martin leads offense

Chris Masoud | Thursday, March 18, 2010

The art of hitting can take years, even decades to perfect. Plate discipline, a consistent approach and balance can even elude professionals from time to time. But if the season ended today, Casey Martin could make a pretty good case for having mastered his craft.

Leading the team in nearly every offensive category, Martin has emerged as the Notre Dame’s most dangerous threat at the plate. Martin has put together an impressive midseason résumé that features a .434 batting average, three home runs and 16 RBIs.

“He’s a senior and I think he plays with a lot of confidence,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “It’s kind of funny, out of all our hitters hitting in the cage live, he was probably struggling the most. He’ll tell you, his first hit was a swinging bunt, but it’s a base hit, and as a hitter, that gives you confidence.”

Hovering at the .500 mark with a 7-8 record, Notre Dame has struggled to find the consistency it had hoped for leading into conference play next week. The Irish have yet to pull off a winning streak since they opened the season with a road sweep.

Yet in his first full season as a starter, Martin’s contributions have had an immediate impact. Needing a win to advance to the title game of the Irish Baseball Classic, Martin jacked a three-run homerun in the first inning to give the Irish a lead they would not relinquish.

“It’s what we try to do,” Martin said. “We’ve struggled a bit this year with guys not knowing what their roles are or where they’re going. It’s huge when you can give your starter some support early in the game.”

Although not completely unexpected, the extent of Martin’s offensive explosion has taken many by surprise, including opposing pitchers. Martin has spent the last two seasons in and out of the starting lineup and was competing for the starting job up until opening day.

“I’ve been platooning the last two years, so I wasn’t playing everyday. In that format I think it was hard to get comfortable for long. Now that I can get out there and get into a rhythm, it just helps.”

Although Martin’s future is still uncertain, his immediate success will continue to have a tremendous impact on the Irish this season. The senior is taking his success in stride and hopes to finish the year on his own terms.

“Just knowing this is my last year of college baseball, I’m just trying to go out there and have fun,” Martin said. “I don’t know if I’ll get drafted or not, but I can still go out and make the most of my last year.”