Harper sophomore Kurt Becker (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) had a great freshman year, hitting .377 and earning All-Region honors. So far in the spring 2014 baseball season, Becker is on another planet with his production.
The third baseman is fourth in the nation in batting average and is already cementing his legacy as an all-time great at Harper. Becker was recently named NJCAA Div. III Player of the Week and now can lay claim to the 17th Harper College Athlete of the Week for the 2013-14 school year.
Becker, who also has excelled in the classroom with N4C Academic All-Conference honors, is thriving this year for the Hawks and has been an integral part of the team's current nine-game winning streak over the last week and a half.
In 17 games, he is hitting .544 (fourth in the nation) with three home runs, 16 RBIs, 23 runs scored and eight stolen bases. His batting average comes in 57 at-bats, which is 28 more at-bats than the top hitter, St. Cloud's Michael Barreneche. He is also sporting a .576 on-base percentage (ninth in nation) and slugging percentage of .842 (third in nation).
"He's just using all parts of the field. He came out of the gate hot, and he's been hot," said Harper head coach Cliff Brown. "You know what you are going to get every time out."
The Palatine High School product signed with NCAA Div. II Lewis University back in November. Despite having a place to play next year, he says he hasn't been complacent.
"You don't want to be content and take this year off," he said. "It freed my mind and just let me play the game. I've been seeing it well, and I'm just trying to stay aggressive and show Lewis how good I can do this year."
Becker's recognition at the national level was well-deserved. In seven games from March 31-April 6, the left-handed slugger hit .545 (12-for-22) with a homer, eight RBIs, 16 runs scored and five steals. In spite of his success, he is quick to give credit to his teammates.
"(Leadoff man) Chris Elliot is doing a good job getting on base. With the threat of Theo (Yfantis) behind me, they can't really pitch around me," Becker said. "Guys are building confidence and swinging freely now."
The Hawks' second hitter in the lineup, Becker also thinks his team's 4-0 start in N4C play isn't a mirage.
"I think we can win the conference, get the No. 1 seed in the region, go down to Tyler, Texas for the World Series and make some noise down there," he said.