It has been a great year for the Vikings from their pitching to their at bats, and leading the way is the team’s ace, AJ Hacker.
Hacker’s home run in Friday night’s win over Morgan County was the team’s 20th. He has racked up eight home runs this season. Not bad for a guy who will not be batting next season at Morehead State University.
“I have just kept my same approach at the plate. This is my last year swinging the bat, going to college I am going to be PO (pitcher only). I have just been getting good contact with my ball and I have been lucky it has been going out,” said Hacker.
Hacker leads the team with a .452 batting average and an .821 slugging percentage. He has 38 hits and 42 RBIs before the Vikings’ last regular season game against East Carter.
Hacker has hit home runs in eight games starting with the Vikings win over Lewis County where he went one for two at the plate.
Shane Taylor also hit a home run in the team’s 10-0 win over the Lions. He was three-for-four at the plate driving in four baserunners.
The duo has hit home runs in the Vikings’ wins over Simon Kenton and their first encounter with the Morgan County Cougars.
Taylor had perfect night at the plate during the 13-1 win over Simon Kenton. He went four-for-four driving in another four runners.
Taylor’s homer in the Morgan County game April 16 was his fifth this season. He started the season with two home runs in the season opener against Greenup County. He is currently leading the team with 50 hits and 48 RBIs, and has a .432 batting average and a .666 slugging percentage.
The 18-6 win over Morgan County in mid April was the start of a seven day stretch in which the Vikings tallied eight home runs across four games. It started with three home runs against Morgan County and ended with three home runs against Russell for a 12-0 win in the Frank Bloom Invitational.
Corey Binion hit the third home run in the fifth inning as part of an eight run inning.
He hit three home runs during the seven day stretch and has hit a total four bombs this season. He has the team’s only grand slam.
“Obviously, I want to hit more and I wish I hit more earlier but I have really got it down. I just need to keep hitting like I am,” said Binion.
Binion’s homer to right field drove in base runners Taylor, Hacker and Devon Stevens during the 4-2 win over Lewis County. He put the Vikings up four runs in the fourth to secure the win April 17.
Binion leads the team in doubles having hit 15 up to this point and is tied with Taylor with 50 hits. He has a .431 batting average and 39 RBIs.
Hacker hit a home run against Mason County before the Vikings tallied three more in the Saturday win over Russell.
It comes as no surprise that Binion, Hacker and Taylor have all signed to play at the next level.
“They realize this is the last year for them as a Rowan County Viking. They have really worked hard in the off season to get the bats going. All three of those guys have stepped up and done a nice job,” said Coach Scott Collins. “They have definitely put the work in and it couldn’t have happened to three better kids, being able to sign to the next level and play for the next four years.”
Vikings seniors Devon Stevens and Ryan Mullen added the remaining three homers.
Mullen hit the second home run of the season and his first career home run.
Mullen is not quite the power hitter that Hacker, Taylor, Stevens and Binion are. However, Mullen’s speed allowed him to reach home for an in the park home run against district opponents Menifee County April 1.
Steven’s bat has warmed up just in time for the postseason. He has hit two bombs, his first in the win over Russell that ended the previously mentioned seven day stretch.
He also hit the only home run in the Vikings’ second encounter with Menifee County last Wednesday.
Stevens has a .420 batting average, 42 hits, 37 RBIs and has hit 12 doubles.