It's all in the hands
By BRANDON HURLEY
Greene County senior Reid Lamoureux has never strayed too far from the fundamentals. It’s what has helped him reach the mark of Class 3A’s best hitter through 17 games, collecting 29 hits and a .604 average.
His career as one of the Rams’ best contact hitters started with the most simple of training exercises - tee work.
“I almost always start with the tee first (during batting practice),” Lamoureux said.
He spent most of the off-season hitting off the tee, a drill that fine tunes a batter’s swing plane and hand quickness. He even stayed away from live pitching, for the most part, just working on his hands.
GROWING UP A BALL PLAYER
The Ram shortstop and No. 3 hitter with distant French ancestors has heard it all when it comes to pronouncing his last name. He’s heard “LA-MOR-AY,” “LA-MOR-A” and “LA-MOR-AX.”
Even a few of his teammates don’t know how to pronounce their most productive hitter’s name.
But, it’s pronounced, “LA-MOR-EE,” as spoken by the man himself.
Lamoureux first started playing baseball as a four-year old in the T-ball league, and has yet to give it up. That’s roughly 14 years of summers spent on the diamond, through rec league, Little League and into high school.
“For the most part, (hitting has) always come naturally,” the right-handed batter said. “My dad was my coach when I was younger and he really helped me out a lot.”
Lamoureux hit .412 during his first season of varsity play last year, collecting 35 hits. The senior has nearly reached that career-high hits mark already, just 17 games into the season. A 200-point leap and a claim on the top spot in the state is certainly something Lamoureux never envisioned heading in to the season.
“I actually didn’t expect to hit as well as I am,” he said. “I didn’t do any spring league this year, which last year, I did do. But, I took a lot of cuts off the tee and in the cage. I’ve just been seeing the ball real well.”
STAYING TRUE TO THE BASICS
Lamoureux relies mostly on his ability to swing through the ball and to always make contact, thanks to his quick and strong hands.
“Hands to the ball,” he said. “When I say that, I mean you have to punch through the ball with your hands and the bat will follow through. That was the biggest thing, was with my hand-eye coordination and getting my hands to go first.”
Lamoureux stays true to his personality as he enters the batter’s box. He has no flashy routine and no elongated breaks between pitches. He just steps in, taps the plate with the bat, gives a half swing toward the pitcher and focuses on the position of his hands.
His batting stance helps with his hands as well. As he digs in, his hands are gripped around the handle, already loaded, prepared to swing.
“I like to have my hands back,” Lamoureux said. “If I don’t have them back, then I have to load before I come forward and that wastes time. If I keep my hands back from the start, I can get a better jump on the ball and have more time to react.”
Greene County manager, Mark Sawhill has seen Lamoureux’s offseason work pay off first hand.
“He has more confidence in his bat and he’s a little more confident at the plate being that last year was his first year at the varsity level,” Sawhill said. “So this year, being his second year through, nothing seems to faze him. He goes up there and does what he does, and so far, it’s been working real well for him.
He just took the initiative to go and do some extra hitting. He’s athletic enough and he knows how to do things right and he works at it very hard.”
Over the past several weeks, Lamoureux and the coaching staff have worked to take the ball the opposite way, placing it in the right center field gap. It has allowed him to surprise a few fielders and shoot the ball where they aren’t, moving runners along.
Anything Lamoureux can do to help the team, he’ll give it a try.
“We try to do a lot of different things as far as situational hitting goes,” Sawhill said. “We work on that in practice. Where do we want to go with the ball, where to we want to attack it. Some kids will buy into it, and he’s one of those that has real well. Other kids are thinking about what they are going to do for themselves and he’s bought in for the team and does a great job.”
RIDING THE MOMENTUM
To keep the hot-hitting going through the remainder of the season, Sawhill and Lamoureux both agree the righty can’t start to overthink things and try too much. He’s a senior, having his most productive season ever, but it’s also important to enjoy the ride.
“Right now, it’s about keeping him relaxed and not worrying about what’s happened so far,” Sawhill said. “This is it, he’s a senior. This is his last time playing high school baseball. Make every moment, every at bat count so you’re not looking back and saying ‘gee, what if I had done this?’”’
Lamoureux understands his gaudy stats don’t win games. He wants to keep hitting for the team, producing runs whenever he can.
“You can’t win a game by yourself. I need to get on and then my teammates need to help hit me around,” he said. “If someone before me can get on, my job is to get a hit and score them. I’m not really looking to keep my batting average up.”
Though Lamoureux has no concrete plans to continue his baseball career after high school, he hopes to at least try out for the University of Iowa baseball team, a Division I program that narrowly missed winning the Big 10 tournament championship earlier this month.
“I have (college) orientation next month (in Iowa City), so I plan to talk to the coaches then and see what they say, and hopefully I can walk on,” he said.
And if all goes well, he’ll have a few more chances at the next level to hit fastballs into the right center gap.