Trying to pinpoint when athletes hit their prime is not an exact science. Despite analysts’ best efforts, it is really just an educated guess. For college athletes, their peak years are usually their junior and senior seasons.
This holds true for Mercyhurst baseball senior Shane Latshaw.
After transferring to Mercyhurst from Erie Community College for his junior season, Latshaw has been toward the top of every offensive category for the Lakers. Latshaw has hit for an average of .371 since joining the line-up.
This season, he has been most productive. His average has gone up 14 points, currently at .379, which is second on the team. Latshaw also has the highest on-base percentage on the team at .456. These numbers are necessary to be successful as the second batter in the line-up.
While a few Lakers have had nagging injuries the last two seasons, Latshaw has started 96 games during his two seasons. That consistency provides stability for the line-up.
“I think it’s from a lot of hard work in the off-season,” said Latshaw. “Also, I have been here before, so maturity is a part too.”
Latshaw’s hard work has added a new wrinkle to his game: home run power. He leads the team with nine home runs.
“I felt like I had the ability to put up the numbers,” Latshaw said.
The crowning moment of Latshaw’s season so far was his last two home runs.
In game one of a doubleheader against Clarion, the score was even at seven in the bottom of the seventh inning. Latshaw came to the plate with the bases loaded.
“I didn’t realize it went out at first until the first baseman said it did,” Latshaw said.
Just trying to put the ball in play, Latshaw ended the game with a walk-off grand slam.
“It was smiles all over,” Latshaw said.
Following up his game one walk-off, Latshaw added a two-run shot in game two to help the Lakers sweep with a 4-1 win.
It is unexpected to have a leading home run hitter bat second, but Latshaw provides protection to the rest of the line-up. With the all-time career home run leader in Ethan Santora batting behind him, Latshaw sees good pitches almost every at-bat.
“I think it all evens out. When I get pitches to hit, it means the guys behind me get good pitches too,” Latshaw said.
If Latshaw keeps hitting the way he is, the Lakers have a chance to again go deep in the postseason. He isn’t the most vocal on the team, but his play is certainly a good example of how to play the game.
“We have a lot of seniors who have been here before and know what we have to do,” Latshaw said.
The Lakers are in a tie for first in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) and third in the Atlantic Region.
“It would be a disappointment if we don’t get far in the playoffs,” said Latshaw. “We aren’t satisfied with just winning the division.”
So far, the team hasn’t disappointed. They have a 32-12 overall record. Winning four of its last five, the team has momentum heading into the final weekend of the season.
“We have a lot of returners, our line-up and hitting will come around,” said Latshaw. “I like our chances in the playoffs.”
Latshaw and the team will round out their season Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28, with four games against rival Gannon.