Goodwyn Fuels Knights' Offense
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Apr 16, 2014, 15:48
Brian Goodwyn unleashes on this pitch during a game against Varina last week.
CHESTER — Thomas Dale second basemen Brian Goodwyn makes a living by being a distraction to opposing pitchers on the base-paths with his speed and baseball smarts to take the extra base when it's warranted. But it was Goodwyn who found himself facing a distraction last year when it was discovered he had a stress fracture in his lower back.
Goodwyn could no longer take to the field, swing off a tee or even have a simple catch outside. Instead, Goodwyn was confined to recovery which made his season-debut against Matoaca in the lead-off spot all the more special. While Goodwyn struggled against the Warriors — his timing was off and he popped out for easy outs — he know he was just getting back into a rhythm.
After all, he hadn't picked up a bat in a competitive game until the team's exhibition games in March. Thomas Dale manager Chris Marshall knew this and decided to switch Goodwyn from the lead-off spot to the No. 2 hole where Goodwyn has caught fire as a table-setter for the rest of the lineup.
"I was hurt last year and I had missed about six months of baseball activity, so Matoaca was my first real game," Goodwyn explained. "I was a little nervous and tight, so I was moved down and it gave me more time to get my rhythm and timing with the pitcher. It also helped me be more relaxed with it being my first game."
A relaxed Goodwyn is bad news for the opponents of Thomas Dale during the course of the season.
The second baseman is a dangerous hitter to face at the top of a good-hitting lineup and he has proved it through the early part of the season. In fact, after struggling in a loss to Matoaca, he wasted little time in getting on track in a 14-0 win over Hopewell.
After Nathan Eaton reached base in front of him on an error, Goodwyn blasted the first-pitch he saw into the right-centerfield gap for an RBI double to plate the Knights' first run. It was just the start of an incredible game for Knights' No. 2 hitter.
In his next at-bat, Goodwyn again drove in Eaton on a right-centerfield triple before later scoring on an error on the Hopewell pitcher. Then, he capped his night off with a single in the 4th inning, falling just one hit away from the cycle.
Yet, this type of performance should not be surprising. Goodwyn may not be the biggest player lining the Knights' roster, but much like Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox, he produces.
"I'm always working and hustling," he said of his style of play. "I know I'm not the biggest or the strongest, but I have speed and I hustle, work hard in practice and always making my best effort."
And that best effort has helped turn around Thomas Dale's season.
After falling to Cosby 1-0, Thomas Dale lost a tough game to Varina last week. The Knights struggled with the bats and were down to their last three outs before tying the game. Then, in the bottom of the inning, Varina laid down a perfect squeeze play to walk-off with the win.
For a team expected to build off of last season's Regional Tournament appearance — their first since the 2009 season — it wasn't the type of start they envisioned. However, it changed in the final two games before Spring Break.
Thomas Dale recorded a 15-0 win over Meadowbrook in which Goodwyn went 2-for-3 from the plate with a double and four RBIs. The Knights then defeated Prince George by a 9-1 score. Goodwyn picked up an additional two RBIs in the victory, one of which came on perfect situational hitting in the second inning with a sacrifice fly.
Goodwyn's defensive play has saved more than a few runs for the Knights.
After the game, Chris Marshall was excited about the effort his team gave.
"This is our best overall effort," he said. "This is our best game thus far out of the six games. We put it all together tonight."
But the key for the Knights will be to stay consistent throughout the final stretch of the season before tournament time. Their lineup, although dangerous from No. 1 to No. 9, has struggled at times this season and will be a major key to how successful they are.
And a bigger spotlight will be on the top of the lineup with Goodwyn's performance.
The second baseman has stepped his play over the last few games by producing in run-scoring situations and getting on base to set up the rest of the lineup. But for his part, Goodwyn doesn't care about his own personal statistics. He just wants to help his team win.
"I just want to try to contribute and help the team win," he said. "I just want to do my best at that. I'm not concerned with personal stats or whatever, I'm just worried about helping the team."
And Goodwyn will continue to do so, one hit, one RBI and one stolen base at a time as the Knights pursue a conference crown.