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AOW: Baxter pacing Arabs' offensive production

February 27, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

In softball there's not much a coach can say or do to make a player more comfortable at the plate. It's just something that happens.

Once a player feels comfortable there's no telling what that person can do.

Such is the case with Imperial Valley College's Erika Baxter. It took months of summer workouts for Baxter to start feeling a comfort level at the plate and now that she's found it, she's been one of the Arabs' biggest offensive threats.

In two IVC wins last week Baxter went 2-for-6 with four RBI, including a three-RBI performance against Mount San Jacinto College on Friday.

"That's really what's been making the difference for me this year. I just feel a lot more comfortable," said the 19-year-old sophomore from Southwest High in El Centro. "All I worked on during the summer was my hitting. At first I was kind of afraid of the ball and I knew I really needed to get back to feeling comfortable."


The fear Baxter felt stemmed from a broken hand she suffered last year while batting.

With the fear of getting hit behind her, Baxter has become a hit machine for IVC in either the fifth or sixth spot in the lineup.

In 10 games she has hit .652 and has recorded at least one hit in every gameas the Arabs have opened the season 6-4.

"Erika is very solid when it comes to her batting. I know she can produce hits when we need them," said Arab coach Jill Lerno. "I think along with her being more comfortable, she doesn't feel any pressure to produce. She's real laid back at the plate and doesn't let anything rile her."

Baxter said not having the pressure of hitting cleanup has helped make things easier for her because the team is less dependent on her.

One thing Baxter hasn't really paid much attention to is her 10-game hitting streak. While many players would feel pressure to keep such a streak going, that may be the last thing on her mind when walking up to the plate.

"I never even really thought about it. I don't go up there with that in mind. I just go and play," added Baxter.

Said Lerno: "As a sophomore she has really stepped up this year. And you see that in her hitting. I really believe her experience and strength is going to help pull this team through the rest of the year."

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