Mashing in the Middle: Dragan, Sergent leading strong Boyle offense

Published 9:30 am Saturday, April 28, 2018

Boyle County has a new approach.

The Rebels have swept the 45th District in the regular season for the first time since 2008, but that’s only the first step for a motivated group of seniors.

Boyle blew through the 12th Region tournament last season, scoring 25 runs in three games to win the title. This year, the Rebels want more.

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“It’s the idea that we can do something huge,” senior Alex Sergent said. “We won the region last year, we went to state and we blew it. That really hurt all of the seniors. I’m taking it one step at a time, I’ve seen that I can play at the next level and I’m committed to that. It’s really given me a drive to be good.”

Sergent has been mashing in the heart of the lineup this season for Boyle: He’s batting .500 and has a team-high 24 runs batted in. He committed to Kentucky Wesleyan to play baseball and he said that has been a huge motivation for him this season.

“Really, just the offseason. I’m working on everything, day in and day out,” he said. “Working on my body, I’m getting more doubles now, not getting thrown out at second. I just try to make things simple and see the ball. I think that’s really helping me produce.”

Sergent has been hitting in the cleanup spot for the Rebels this season, and he’s almost always had runners on base when he steps to the plate.

Grant Hotchkiss leads Boyle with an absurd .526 average at the top of the order. Hunter Mason (.400) has hit in the No. 2 spot and Ty Dragan (.471) commands the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

Dragan said the boost in averages across the board has been because they’re working more outside of practice.

“Alex is hitting great, he’s been working really hard,” Dragan said. “After games, when JV is playing we’ll get some cuts in. When the games were canceled the other day, we were down at the softball field on the turf taking ground balls, hitting in the cage, stuff like that.”

That work ethic has been seen by head coach Kyle Wynn.

“I think it carries over into their play. They’re both leaders, they’re different leaders,” Wynn said. “Right now, just their approach, coming every day and the hard work they’re showing in practice, getting extra swings in and stuff like that, that’s showing that they’re seniors and they’re getting after it each and every day. We’re only three weeks away from district. They’re doing a nice job.”

He said Dragan and Sergent have solidified their spots in the order because of how well they’ve been hitting throughout the season.

“They’re the two guys in the middle of the order right now and you have to have consistency there,” Wynn said. “Consistency is the big word for both of them, you can have some guys at the bottom of the order have a bad day or two, but you don’t want too many off days with the guys in the middle of the order. That’s what they’re doing, they’re providing us with a steady approach at the plate, not trying to do too much and they’re getting it done right now.”

Sergent said his focus at the plate has changed in his senior season — he’s always aware of the count, where he has runners on base and what he wants to do in every situation.

“It’s really based on the count and where I have people at,” he said. “If I have someone at second, I’m getting them in. I don’t care if I get out, I’m trying to get RBIs. I’m trying to hit it behind them, I’ll run them around, whatever. Based on the count, if I have two strikes I’ll scoot up, choke up just a tad and make sure I’m hitting everything that’s close.”

He’s been raking in the RBIs: 24 in 13 games so far this season has him tied for 10th in the state. Every player above Sergent on that list has played at least five more games.

Dragan has 13 RBIs in front of Sergent and is second to Hotchkiss with 17 runs scored. Hotchkiss leads the team with 18 runs scored.

Both Dragan and Sergent said they need to stay focused in the final month of the season before the postseason starts.

“We definitely need to stay focused more,” Dragan said. “We’ll have innings where we are focused and we’ll put up five runs, then we’ll be flat for three before we score five more. We just need to keep pounding, pounding, pounding. We don’t need to lay down when we get a couple runs, we need to keep going.”

Dragan noted Lincoln County’s team last year — the Patriots made a run to the region final and nearly won the 45th District, despite having a losing record — as a team he wants to emulate moving forward.

“It’s all about us coming together. Compared to Lincoln County last year, they weren’t better than us but they were all together,” Dragan said. “That’s what we have to work on more, everybody becoming brothers. We’ve got a couple people that don’t like each other on the team, we just have to smash that and all come together, then we’ll be a great team and have a great chance at making state.”

The Rebels will face challenging opponents this weekend in the Louisville Invitational Tournament, and Sergent said he wants those results to translate to postseason success.

“District is always the first step, and we always want tough competition outside of that,” Sergent said. “We’re going to the LIT and we’ll play some good teams there. But really, we want those games to translate to district. We wanted to go 6-0 and make a statement, we wanted to beat everybody as bad as we could, kind of tell them that we’re real this year. That will send a message to the region teams, we want to come out and do the same thing we did last year.”