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Hastings powering Tigers' offense

April 24, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

One of the hottest bats in the Imperial Valley throughout this baseball season has been in the hands of Imperial High School's D.J. Hastings.

Hastings is atop the Valley's leader board in home runs with five and is leading his team with 16 RBIs.

Hastings continued his power surge last week as he led Imperial to a 9-6 win over Midway Baptist finishing with two hits, four RBIs, two runs and one monstrous grand slam. He pitched 3 2/3 innings to pick up the win.

With the Tigers leading 2-0, Hastings came to the plate with no outs and the bases loaded, then connected.

"In that situation I knew I had to get some runs in. I was just trying to get a base hit — hit it in the gap — and get something going," said the 17-year-old junior. "When I hit it, I didn't think I got it all, but then I heard everyone on the bench cheering and I knew I got it."

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At 5 feet 11, 225 pounds, Hastings has the power to take any ball out, but a slight change in technique really turned around his offensive game.

At the beginning of the year Hastings was trying to kill the ball, taking big swings and going for the fences. But coaches advised him to shorten his swing and choke up to make contact first. With his natural power any hit is a threat to go deep.

"Shortening up my swing and choking up more has really made a difference when I'm batting," said Hastings. "If I hadn't made those adjustments, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now."

While Hastings points to different mechanics and technique as the difference in his game, Imperial coach William Estes points to maturity as the key factor.

"He's definitely a lot more mature now. We tried to get him to do this last year, but he wouldn't listen," said Estes. "Now that he's a little more mature, he listens to what we have to say and makes those changes.

"He's also a good all-around athlete with a really good work ethic. He's in here on weekends constantly working on his hitting," Estes said. "He's only a junior right now, so we're hoping he'll be one of the team leaders next year. But right now, he's leading by example."

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