Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The art of a brainy HS leadoff man

HighBeam Research

Title: Warriors' Broihier is at the head of his class.(Sports)

Date: June 2, 1996 Publication: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL) Author: Bush, Joe
Byline: Joe Bush Daily Herald Sports Writer

A little bit after 2 p.m. today, Sean Broihier will stand before a graduation commencement crowd of nearly 600 of his fellow Waubonsie Valley students, an unknown number of their friends and relatives, as well as some school faculty and administrators, and he will give a three-to-four-minute speech.
"I'm a little nervous," says Broihier, not only one of three Waubonsie Valley valedictorians, but also a center fielder nearing the end of a textbook season for a leadoff man.
"He's not a talker," laughs Warriors coach Jim Schmid. "He'll be reading that thing."
Broihier is not a typical valedictorian - for him, the "Three Rs" could mean reading, writing and rebuilding remote control airplanes, or reading, writing and robbery.
That's right, robbery. Broihier has stolen 52 bases this season, and since he has been the catalyst for the Warriors' arresting run through the Class AA playoffs, it's 52 and counting.
Broihier has been nothing short of a menace as Waubonsie Valley became the second straight sixth-seed to win the Naperville North regional.
In semifinal and championship wins over two of the DuPage Valley Conference's best - Wheaton Warrenville South and Naperville North, respectively - Broihier reached base in eight of nine plate appearances (6 hits, 2 walks) and scored four times.
If he indeed is reading his speech, it's only an extension of his work on the diamond. Broihier played part time as a junior, hit in the ninth spot, and stole just a handful of bases.
The soon-to-be University of Illinois engineering student who, as a junior-high student built, flew and fixed a model airplane every time it crashed, had to learn to read again.
Broihier's improved ability to judge both pitchers' pickoff moves and their curve balls has led him to the finest one-season performance by a DuPage County leadoff man in recent memory.
He's always had great speed - "Probably the fastest kid I've coached," said Schmid - but needed to refine his technique, especially in reaching base and stealing third.
Broihier came to Schmid and assistant Denny Short as an aggressive first-pitch type hitter. Now he thinks nothing of taking 2 strikes to increase his chances of walking.
"I didn't like getting to 2 strikes because I couldn't hang with the curve ball, and they almost always threw a curve," Broihier said.
"He's done a better job of not giving away that he's having trouble with that pitch," Schmid said. "It doesn't really matter to him like it used to."
If Broihier gets a pitch he likes, he's more than capable with the bat. Using his speed to the utmost, he's hitting .362 going into Monday's Joliet Catholic sectional semifinal versus York.
Schmid estimates three of every four bunts Broihier gets down is a hit, while seemingly routine grounders are anything but for opposing defenses.
"If we get any of the infielders moving left or right, he has a chance to beat it out," Schmid said.
Indeed, four of Broihier's 6 hits against WW South and Naperville North never left the infield. Two were bunts, a result of Schmid's and Short's insistence that Broihier bunt at least once in every game last summer.
"Really what I want to do is hit a line drive, but if anything I wanna get the ball down on the ground," said Broihier, who has just 3 doubles this season. "Line drives or below. I don't think I've hit anything over anyone's head this year."
Once on base, Broihier, who shattered the school record of 35 steals, has been picked off twice and caught stealing four times. (By the way, he thinks West Chicago catcher Ryan Saul has the best arm he saw this season).
Ever the pupil, Broihier absorbs pitchers' subtleties, and as a result has improved his leads off base, his first two steps and his aggression in swiping third. Tellingly, he twice had multiple-steal games against lefthanders.
"He's got ya' after (watching a pitcher) one time," Schmid said. "He's a true student."

COPYRIGHT 2009 Paddock Publications
This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.  All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

This document provided by HighBeam Research at http://www.highbeam.com

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