E.A. Sports Today

He’s got the power

Midseason benching lights fire under young Donoho outfielder; Webb hits four homers in last three playoff games

Wednesday’s Games
Piedmont (31-4) at Lauderdale County (24-4), 4:30 p.m.
Thursday’s Games
Covenant Christian (16-7) at Donoho (19-5), 2 p.m.
Westbrook Christian (18-16) at Decatur Heritage (26-8), 4:30 p.m.
Etowah (24-12) at Jacksonville (19-10), 4:30 p.m.
Alexandria (24-13) at Madison Academy (27-13), 4:30 p.m.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

And just like that Peyton Webb is a power hitter in the playoffs.

After hitting only one home run in Donoho’s first 20 games of the season, the sophomore outfielder has gotten on a tear. He has hit four homers in the Falcons’ last three Class 1A playoff games – in nine at-bats.

It’s a tear similar to another left-fielder of some renown. Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies, who has also struggled at the plate with his new team early this season, has hit three homers in his last two games, covering his last eight at-bats.

“It definitely has surprised me; I really have no explanation,” Webb said. “I started off the year really bad. Every swing looked like I was trying to hit a home run. I really wasn’t trying to. I’ve been working on it a lot. It’s just, like, coming to me now.

“I’ve always been a hard hitter, but never really a home run hitter. I’ve always done good in home run derbies, I’ve won a couple, but this is kind of a new thing to me.”

His current run started with a pair of bombs in Game 2 of the Falcons’ playoff opening sweep of Skyline. He hit one in each win of the sweep of Sumiton Christian last week. The Falcons have hit 11 homers as a team in four post-season games and have homered in eight straight. They host Covenant Christian in the quarterfinals Thursday.

While Webb might be surprised at his newly emerging power, Falcons head coach Steve Gendron is not.

“He has that power in batting practice all the time,” Gendron said. “I think it’s just a matter of him getting comfortable and sticking with his plan, his approach at the plate, and the rest will take care of itself. 

“He’s a good hitter and a strong kid, but sometimes he just tries to do too much. I just think it took a while for him to get some at-bats under his belt and realize he can do those things without trying to do it every single time.”

A mid-season benching played a big part in getting him right. Gendron took him out of the starting line in the first Faith Christian game in early April. They sent him into the game in the fifth and got two hits as the Falcons batted around. He has gone 19-for-33 since and is now hitting .400 for the season.

“I used to go to Faith (and Oxford); I know all those players,” he said. “I just wanted to prove I was something different. When I didn’t start, that kind of worried me. It kind of shook me, like, ‘Am I baseball player anymore?’”

He was always a baseball player. He just needed to see things from a different perspective.

It’s all a matter of trust.

“If you know you’re going to play you know how to prepare; you can calm down a little, knowing,” Gendron said. “We trust him and I think he trusts us as coaches, and I think that goes a long way.”

Just like some of his homers.

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