Even with a hitter’s count, hitting a home run isn’t an easy thing to do. Hitting home runs with two strikes is even harder.
Just don’t tell Montini sophomore Emily Lezcano that.
As a freshman, Lezcano proved she was capable of hitting the long ball, belting four home runs in 36 games to go along with a .359 average. Lezcano has already surpassed her home run total of last year, but it’s the way she is doing it that has amazed coach Richie Costante.
All five of her home runs have come with two strikes.
“With two strikes I realize that I need to protect the plate and get a piece of anything that comes near the strike zone,” Lezcano said. “I’m actually pretty comfortable and confident with two strikes. Patience is the key.
Before I get into the batter’s box, I usually just take a deep breath and run through all the possible pitches the pitcher could throw me with two strikes.
“The pitcher has two things in mind: strike her out or make her chase. I usually don’t go chasing so I let the bad pitches go by. If she pitches me middle to inside, I’m looking to drive the ball, whereas if she tries to pitch me outside, I either look to foul it off or drive it to right field.”
Two of Lezcano’s home runs came in consecutive innings against defending Class 3A champion Glenbard South. The first was a solo shot in the fourth inning, the second was a three-run drive in the fifth — both to left centerfield by the right-handed hitter.
Two more also came in the same game, this time against Rosary. The first was another solo shot that tied the game in the second inning. The second was another three- run shot in the fifth. Both were to centerfield.
Her fifth and most spectacular home run came against St. Edward. The mammoth drive to left field was estimated by Costante to travel close to 275 feet.
“We have a 200-foot fence, but this landed on the warning track of the Elgin Sports Plex slow-pitch fence which is 275 feet,” Costante said.
“Three of her home runs were on full counts.”
Lezcano credits Costante, who is also her summer coach on the Lemont Rockers, for making her the hitter she is. Costante posts all of his players’ at-bats online. He said Lezcano has the most log-in time of any player.
“She understands what we are looking for her to do,” Costante said. “She has a year of varsity experience and she has a plan in each at-bat. It’s nice seeing her approach at the plate this year.”