April 26, 2014

The science behind NW Whitfield's lineup

Lineup cards from Northwest Whitfield baseball games early this season and Wednesday’s Region 7-4A championship series have one big similarity — they’re exactly the same.

Something worked in those nine slots in the Bruins’ batting order.

Like one of those college calculus problems that you don’t think you can ever figure out, the addition and multiplication signs were in their proper places and churned out the correct answer. Bruins coach Todd Middleton figured out the equation, so he stuck with it.

“When possible, I don’t like to have a lot of holes,” Middleton said. “Obviously, we want to set the table at the top of the lineup for the 3 through 6 guys. I think what we have at the bottom is guys who do put it in play and make some things happen for us.”

There’s a science to baseball batting lineups. Some coaches prefer balance top to bottom, some connect specific attributes to specific spots in the lineup and some group players with defined skills front to back like one-two punches.

“I want the lineup to be longer, where it’s a little more balanced,” Dalton coach Shane Ramsey said. “I want my good hitters at the top. You’ll always have holes around the lineup. I always want speed at the top and bottom, but I want to be able to swing the bats in Nos. 6, 7 and 8.”

As Northwest’s Bruins enter the Class 4A state playoffs as the back-to-back Region 7 champions, they’ll try to keep the run production high in the first-round, best-of-three series with LaGrange. The doubleheader on Friday starts at 5 p.m. and the if-necessary Saturday game starts at 1 p.m., all three happening at Northwest’s Richard H. Chumley Field in Tunnel Hill. Northwest (20-4) averages 7.8 runs per game and sports a 20-4 record, with nine straight wins, entering the postseason.

“We have a good lineup all the way through,” said No. 7 hitter Walker Maret, a junior. “We even have people on the bench who are as good as some starters on other teams in our region.”

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