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Peter Copa leading Minutemen offense

Hitting a baseball is considered by many to be one of the hardest feats in sports. When one considers how little time one has to react to a pitch, how good one’s swing must be what kind of pitch the pitcher could hurl one’s way and all the other mental and physical factors that take place during an at-bat, it would seem incredibly difficult to get a base hit, never mind a home run, in any higher level of play.

Senior Peter Copa, however, had little trouble hitting in the recent three-game series for the Massachusetts baseball team.

Copa, who plays both third and first bases for the Minutemen (9-14, 3-3 Atlantic 10), saw great success at the plate against the Flyers (16-16, 4-2 A-10). He went 8-for-12 on the weekend, with three extra-base hits – a triple and two homeruns, one of which was a grand slam. Copa was also hit by a pitch, earned a walk, had seven runs batted in and reached home safely four times.

With his average continuing to climb throughout the course of the season (an impressive .359, the second-highest on the team), Copa attributes much of his success at the plate to minor adjustments in his approach to opposing pitchers.

“I have been able to see the ball well for most of the year,” said Copa. “With that, I just make little adjustments, stay inside the ball, stay back, and get into a hitter’s count.

“I mean, I am just trying to hit fastballs and get ahead in the count. Sometimes you hit it well, and you do not get on base, while other times you do not hit it that well and still get on base. I struggled a little bit in the beginning of the year, so I am trying to pick it up here in the second half by seeing pitches more, getting use to it, and being comfortable in the batter’s box.”

Throughout the weekend series, the Flyers’ pitching could not find a comfortable rhythm on the mound when facing Copa. Though they were able to hold him 0-for-3 on Sunday with a walk and two strikeouts, opposing pitchers could not keep Copa from making good contact at the plate for the majority of his at-bats. Copa, however, was patient finding pitches he knew he could turn into hits.

“[This weekend] I saw a lot of curveballs, so I decided to lay off of those,” said Copa. “First fastball I saw, I swung at it. Same thing in my first at-bat [on Sunday], [the pitcher] was throwing me breaking balls, so I sat on them, and in my third at-bat, he threw me a fastball and I made good contact on it.”

Though the Minutemen could only walk away with a 1-2 record against their A-10 opponents over the weekend, Copa’s success at the plate is one of many positives for the ball club to build off of.

After all, good hitting is contagious and with players like Copa doing as well as he is, the Minutemen appear to be headed in the right direction at the plate.

David Martin can be reached at dmmartin@student.umass.edu.

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