Marked by a rare slump at the plate, Post 43’s D.J. Hemm waits anxiously for the hits to fall and his frustrations to vanish.
D. J. Hemm wasn’t happy Tuesday night.
Not for the fact of his sitting the bench while his Troy Post 43 teammates broke out of their recent batting woes to hand a 7-1 pasting to Miamisburg in American Legion play at Duke Park, in Troy. No, Hemm would never sulk over not being in the lineup. He is the ultimate team player.
What he wasn’t happy about, as he sat quietly by himself, was his own offensive ineptness, a rare “season” of discontent for the 5’10” first baseman/designated hitter who graduated from Lehman Catholic High School just five weeks ago. D.J. was in a slump!
To add to some very impressive numbers during his four years playing for the Cavaliers, Hemm hovered around the .500 mark for much of his senior season. And to be sure, he picked up right where he left off with a change of uniform and the start of the Legion season.
But two weeks ago the worm turned…things changed collectively for Post 43, and in proprietary fashion for him, as Hemm saw his .400 average plummet with a series of “ofers”, bad luck, and bad at bats. While two weeks wouldn’t frustrate the average high school player, it’s like a “season” to D.J. Hemm, a line drive hittin’ machine during his years at Lehman. When he ain’t hitting…he ain’t happy.
“It feels kind of strange,” he admitted quietly, watching a string of base hits by his mates that led to a six-run fifth inning against Miamisburg. “Hitting is kind of contagious” he added, nodding to the scoreboard. “But it can also be really frustrating. I’ve hit some balls hard…a lot of them last week…but they were right at people. That’s baseball.”
And while hitting can be contagious, as Hemm notes, so too, can a slump be. As evidence, consider Post 43’s weekend tourney trip to Ann Arbor, Michigan where they dropped four straight games, collecting just seven hits as a team for the four games.
“It’s one of those things that can get in your head,” says Post 43 coach Frosty Brown. “We’re still hitting about .310 as a team, and we have some guys who’re hittin’ close to .350 that still think they’re in a slump.
“Where D.J.’s concerned, we’re going to work on some things to try to get him turned around. His hands are a little slow now and his timing’s off. But he’s a hitter. You know he’ll be OK.”
Sooner than later, Hemm hopes, as Post 43 prepares for the Legion district tourney and the post-season Legion and NABF tourneys…and Hemm prepares to enter Ohio Wesleyan University this fall to study finance and accounting, and play baseball.
“I know I’ll miss high school…we came so close twice to getting to state (the state tournament). But I’m really looking forward to going to school,” he said Tuesday, finally cracking a smile. “It’s a really cool place and it was my first choice of schools. I’m going to room with Ben Thieman, from Lehman, who’s going there to play golf.”
Baseball-wise, he expects to play first base and see time as a designated hitter. Hence, he chafes presently to get back on track in order to make a good first impression when he reports to OWU the last week of August.
Baseball is a funny game, as a litany of cliches’ about the game points out. It is a round ball and a round bat, but you gotta’ hit it square, one of them goes.
Another: Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does, an axiom Yogi Berra made famous.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world when you’re hitting,” Hemm added, getting ready to enter the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. “But it’s the worst when you aren’t.”
To add some insult to injury…some salt to his wound…he got hit in the knee in his only plate appearance Tuesday.
So continued D.J. Hemm’s “season” of discontent!