Baseball: Scolan, Downers South off to record-breaking start
Downers Grove South senior outfielder Matt Scolan is currently in the midst of a record-breaking hitting streak.
The Wisconsin-Whitewater recruit can't explain his current hot streak at the plate -- but after sitting out last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, he's happy to be swinging a hot bat for an even hotter team.
Scolan's recent surge might come down to a simple formula: See ball, hit ball.
Lately, after hitting for the cycle against Hinsdale South on April 29, Scolan is among the hottest hitters in the state.
"I've had my good days and a few streaks throughout my high school career, but this one is definitely the longest streak I've been on throughout my high school career," Scolan said. "I really try to slow the game down and keep everything simple, and control what I can control. It allows me to relax at the plate. I'm able to see the ball really well when I take pressure off of myself and just let things happen."
Through last weekend, Scolan was hitting .519 with 27 hits in 14 games to go with 12 runs batted in. The Mustangs defeated Downers Grove North 9-0 on Tuesday to improve to 15-1 on the season. With Scolan in the leadoff spot and setting the table by ripping balls all over the field, the Mustangs have reeled off 13 straight victories.
"Matt's a big reason for how well we're playing," Downers Grove South coach Darren Orel said. "We've had some really good players through the years, but I've never had a kid having a streak like this. I don't think we've ever had a kid even hit for the cycle. He's really leading our offense.
"Ever since the Hinsdale South game, he's seeing a beach ball up there at the plate. He hits the ball hard, even with two strikes. His outs are even loud. We haven't seen great pitching, but it's hard to hit the ball that hard even in batting practice. He's hitting line drives and finding the gaps."
At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Scolan doesn't hit all the desired physical measurements nor does he possess blazing speed. He just hits the ball -- hard. Scolan said when he hit for the cycle against the Hornets, it gave him some confidence. He followed the 4-for-4 performance with two doubles and a triple the following day against Hinsdale South.
On May 4, Scolan batted 4-for-5 and drove in four runs in a 14-5 win over Downers Grove North. He tallied three more hits against Morton on May 6.
"Hitting for the cycle in the first game of the series really got my streak going," Scolan said. "I saw the ball really well that day and it gave me the confidence and I really saw the ball well the rest of the weekend and into the following week as well.
"It was an amazing feeling to accomplish something like that. To do something that's only been done one other time in our school's history is really a surreal feeling."
Orel said Scolan's sizzling bat at the top of the order adds another dimension to a deep and talented lineup.
"Matt's been solid up to that point, but something clicked for him," Orel said. "He can run but he doesn't have plus speed. He's got good speed. I'm not sure I've seen a streak like this. He's a good teammate, plays great defense and has a plus arm. He's one of those tweener kids. His size is not great, but I think he could've gone to a smaller Division I program if someone took a chance. I think people kind of overlooked him."
The Mustangs, whose only loss was to Willowbrook on April 15, have been riding solid pitching, timely hitting and a good defense to a first-place spot in the West Suburban Gold. Junior pitcher Ethan Patera, a Louisville recruit, allowed one hit in five innings in Tuesday's 9-0 shutout over the Trojans. Patera, one of the top arms in the state, struck out 11 and walked three.
Scolan said the Mustangs are a close-knit group of talented players.
"There's a really energetic vibe and buzz in the air around this team," Scolan said. "We've got a lot of talent up and down our roster and we play really well together."