Desert Hills baseball isn’t on a tear by any means, but the Thunder are starting to get hot at the right time.
Through the first four games in Region 9 play, Desert Hills is 8-9 overall and is tied atop the region with Pine View with a 3-1 mark after two wins against Dixie last week.
Part of it has to do with the fact that the Thunder aren’t exclusively playing 5A and 4A schools like they were in their grueling preseason schedule. Another part may be the play of first baseman and pitcher Brayson Hurdsman.
“He’s starting to play with a lot of confidence, had a big two-strike hit for us (against Dixie), he doesn’t panic if he gets two strikes, he still keeps his approach and doesn’t try to do too much,” Beck said.
Through the first 16 games this year, Hurdsman is batting .346 with two home runs, 17 RBIs and eight doubles. He also has 10 stolen bases.
On the mound, Hurdsman has been equally effective going 2-2 with a 1.40 ERA in 30 innings. He has 42 strikeouts against seven walks and is holding opposing batters to a .231 average.
Head coach Jerry Beck said Hurdsman’s on-field performance was expected after a good year last season, but he’s seen improvements from the senior in the leadership department.
“He’s really stepped up for us there and had a great attitude for us there and leading these guys and keeping a good attitude,” Beck said.
Teammate Chad Nelson, who pitched a solid game and hit a home run in Friday night’s win at Dixie, echoed Beck’s sentiments.
“He’s really matured as a leader, he’s a great leader, I have all the confidence in the world in him,” Nelson said.
Hurdsman signed with the University of Houston back in November. The Cougars’ are usually ranked in various national top 25 and top 30 college baseball polls, so UH’s program is, like Hurdsman, solid.
The preseason was grueling and easily could’ve derailed Desert Hills.
“We had a lot of rough innings where maybe we booted a ball or just even had a bobble and it just tore us apart and we had fall-apart innings,” Hurdsman said.
One of the struggles early in the season was players not stepping up. Hurdsman’s mentality now is to be that guy to make a big play, or otherwise set the example.
“To be the first guy to get stuff going, whether I’m on the mound and there’s a booted ball, just back on the mound and do my thing and keep working,” he said. “Or whether it’s at the plate and getting something going like (against Dixie) with the double, stuff like that just to get the team rolling and keep the energy up.”
Region 9 is shaping up to be as tough and unpredictable as ever, and in the scheme of things Hurdsman’s play could be vital down the stretch for the Thunder.