When told he runs pretty well for someone his size, John Rensel Jr.’s eyes light up.
“Thank you! I always make fun of the guys and tell them I’m one of the faster guys on the team,” the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Hays Larks’ first baseman said enthusiastically.
Rensel, a power hitter from Eastern Michigan, has emerged as a well-rounded player for the 30-7 Larks. He is batting .333 with five home runs and shares the team lead in RBIs with 33.
The Tallmadge, Ohio product also has 12 doubles and one triple for the Larks.
“I actually battled a hamstring problem during the year and I’m finally starting to feel healthy,” Rensel said. “I feel like I can move a little bit better than I have the last six months.”
Larks’ manager Frank Leo said Rensel has also been an asset in the field for the Larks.
“He’s got a great glove over at first base,” Leo said. “His feet work good, his hands work good. He’s just a good all-around player.”
As a junior at Eastern Michigan, Rensel hit .242 with 17 runs driven in and two home runs. He’s been pleased with his season for the Larks.
“I’ve feel like I’ve been doing pretty well this summer,” Rensel said. ”I’m trying to zone in on stuff that I can hit more of than sitting on a pitch — hit a ball hard rather than far.
“Sometimes I get caught up with my hands moving a little too much. When I keep them steady I feel like I can hit the ball harder and farther and drive the ball with a little bit of a power.”
The Larks are closing on a Jayhawk League championship with a 22-6 record, holding a five-game lead over the Liberal Bee Jays with eight league games left to play for Hays.
“It’s a pretty awesome experience,” Rensel said. “I’ve been telling the guys that this is probably one of the best team’s I’ve ever been a part of. We can come to the field and we know that we’re going to put some at-bats together and our pitching’s going to do really well and we’re going to win a lot of ball games. It’s been a lot of fun.”
The Larks will open a three-game road series against the Haysville Aviators at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.