Cameron Yee’s next goal is always just 90 feet away. That’s no different in 2014 than it ever has been for the Longmont High left fielder.
But this season, Yee’s eyes, quick hands and flowing stride have helped the senior become the most frequent baserunner and run-scorer for a surprising Trojans team just three wins away from a Class 4A state title.
He takes things one base at a time, and in many ways that defines the 16-8 Trojans this entire season. Coach Tom Fobes said it’s a big reason why the they are in the final four, which continues Friday against Northern League rival Niwot.
“Exactly, he really sets the tone and the guys behind him have done a great job themselves of driving him home, getting on and the next guy doing the same thing,” Fobes said during Tuesday’s practice at LHS.
Yee’s spot in the lineup has not changed in three years. He’s always been the first LHS batter to come to the plate, game in and game out, since he was a sophomore. That said, his role has always been just to get on base any way possible.
In 2012 and 2013, Yee did a decent job of things, providing a solid on-base percentage, a little bit of speed and all-around smarts. But with a few little tweaks in his stance and movement in the batter’s box, Yee has had the finest season of his prep career.
He’s hitting .462 with 42 hits — including 38 singles — against just nine strikeouts in 103 plate appearances. He’s driven in a personal-best 12 runs, too, an added bonus out of the No. 1 slot.
The impressive average shines even more when you consider he hit just .323 last year. But the 140-point increase isn’t just dumb luck.
“I closed my stance a little bit to make it taller, and that seemed to help, and I’ve also tried to get my step down later (in the pitch),” Yee said. “And I just think I’m seeing the ball better.
“This year I’ve really been just worried about having good at-bats. Even if I get out, I want to take the count deep or hit it hard somewhere. Last year, I think I cared more about stats. Even if I strike out, just make sure I see a lot of pitches.”
Yee’s contributions really come once he gets on. He is seventh in all of 4A with 18 steals (getting caught just once), and his 32 runs are fifth in the classification. He won’t burn you with extra-base hits, but every single is potentially two bases within a couple pitches.
“He’s just gotten better for us every year, and he scores a lot of runs for us,” Fobes said. “He is one of those kids that flies under the radar a little bit because he just goes out and does his job without looking for accolades. Doesn’t do anything to stand out other than just get on and come around and score runs for us.”
“Most of the time, he gets on right away, so it’s kind of like, boom, he gets on and Andrew (Bladt) usually drives him in, and we’re up 1-0 just like that,” added senior teammate Will Amen. “He knows what he’s doing when he gets on base, and he causes havoc a lot. He makes things happen, and he gets us runs.”
The rest of the team, with few exceptions, carries that same kind of aggression on the base paths. Longmont, not a team blessed with power bats, has racked up 59 steals in 24 games and they’ll take bases whenever they are presented with the chance.
Once on base, the Trojans want to put pressure on the opposing defense. And that’s exactly what goes through Yee’s head every time he takes that walk to home plate from first at-bat to last.
“Leadoff spot, yeah, it gets things going and if I get on base hopefully it gets contagious and follows through with the rest of the order,” Yee said. “A lot of times, our (Nos.) 8 and 9 guys are carrying us, too.”
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