April 9, 2019 11:34:00 AM
By BEN PORTNOY
Heritage Academy senior first baseman Parker Ray has kept his approach simple.
After struggling through the earlier part of the season, Ray said he's just trying not to overthink during his at-bats.
Evidently, it's working.
Ray has found a groove of late despite a lacking presence at the plate,. In three games this past week he totaled a .500 batting average and a .571 on-base percentage along with 5 RBIs.
The performances earned Ray the Commercial Dispatch Prep Athlete of the Week honor.
"I'm just swinging the bat well," Ray said.
Adding a flair for the dramatic, he notched a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning against District opponent Leake Academy last Tuesday.
With the bases loaded and the game knotted at five, Ray was looking for a fastball.
He got just that.
Ray shot the hanging pitch into the right-center gap to plate the winning-run.
"We've had some injuries the last couple weeks and we said we needed someone to step up," head coach Justin Flake said. "And he's done that. Just capitalizing on opportunities."
More specifically, Flake said he's seen an improvement in Ray's timing when he's behind in the count.
"He's had a much better two-strike approach. Some of his bigger hits last week were with two strikes, down in the count and scratched a couple RBIs for us."
Ray echoed similar sentiments.
"I'm just swinging it well, good two-strike approach, having some quality at-bats," he said.
This will mark the second honor of the week for Ray. Monday afternoon he signed a letter of intent to play football at Sewanee: The University of the South.
A two-sport standout at Heritage Academy, Ray played guard and linebacker for the Patriots.
During the 2018 season, he helped them to an 11-3 record in 2018 and an appearance in the MAIS 3A State Championship Game.
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