By Adam Stites/Garden Grove Journal
Ping! The sharp, light sound of an aluminum bat connecting with a pitch from a Santiago High School pitcher became commonplace Friday, April 29 as the Rancho Alamitos baseball team recorded 14 hits. Two of those hits, however, came without the ping of aluminum, but instead with the dull, crack of a wooden bat.
Kory Weeks, a senior shortstop for the Vaqueros, has used a wooden bat all season and used it well. Through 19 games, Weeks has recorded 37 hits and has earned a .578 batting average, both marks that are among the county’s best.
“I haven’t seen hardly any kids using the wood bat, but he’s been topping the county in hits all year,” said Rancho Alamitos head coach Greg Pines. “Kory is one of the few kids that can swing the wood bat quick enough.”
When the CIF announced tighter standards for non-wooden baseball bats, it was assumed that the power of batters in high school would decline. For most it has, as the players have had to switch to new bats that meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) performance standards.
Weeks’s stats haven’t slowed down at all, in fact they’ve improved after he ditched aluminum altogether. “I tried the BBCOR they issued this year and I didn’t like it,” said Weeks. “I felt like the wood had a lot of pop off the bat.”
In only one game, a 19-0 loss to Palm Desert on March 16, was Weeks held without a hit. With only four games left in the regular season schedule, it will likely depend on the team’s success in the playoffs to give Weeks enough opportunities to break the school record of 50 hits. A mark that Weeks set last year during his junior season.
During that 2010 season, Weeks had 124 plate appearances to work with and finished with a .439 batting average. This season Weeks has accomplished what he has with far fewer opportunities at only 73 plate appearances.
A four-year varsity level player, it was never a question whether or not Weeks could play. Even as a freshman, Pines said he and the other coaches “could tell he was a great hitter from the beginning.”
“It took a while to get used to the varsity level as a freshman, but once I adapt I’m pretty comfortable on the field no matter what level,” said Weeks. Three years later, Weeks is the only team captain for a Rancho Alamitos team that is en route to a possible second consecutive Garden Grove League title.
“I only let a kid be the captain if he does the right things on and off the field,” said Pines. “He’s a good student, he’s got a great attitude and a good personality. He’s very coachable.”
Weeks has made the decision to attend Cypress College where he will continue to play baseball and he hopes to get a scholarship from there. “They have a very demanding program, but he can handle it,” said Pines.
For now, he’ll attempt to lead the Vaqueros deep into the CIF Southern Section playoffs where they lost in the quarterfinals to Gahr High School in 2010. Weeks and the Rancho Alamitos Vaqueros will see their next action Friday, May 6 when they play on the road against Los Amigos.
By the end of the month, Weeks’s productive high school career will be over, but he still has his sights set for the future, “I’m just keep doing what I’m doing and working hard and hopefully that will open doors.”