Senior's outstanding production at the plate earns him honors

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Slattery batted .471 and drove in 34 runs for the Tigers.

Central senior Blake Slattery opened his season with six straight multi-hit games -- he had at least one extra-base hit in each -- and never looked back en route to a record-breaking offensive season for the Tigers.

Slattery finished with 26 extra-base hits, including a record-tying 15 doubles, and helped the Tigers win their first district title since 2000.

Thanks to his monster offensive season, Slattery is this year's Southeast Missourian Player of the Year.

"I felt like with all the work -- playing [American] Legion ball last summer, lifting for football and baseball and being successful in football, that helped build some confidence too -- everything just turned out the way I was hoping it would," Slattery said of his season.

The 26 extra-base hits ranks as the sixth-highest single season total in Missouri history, and his 15 doubles is tied for the fifth-highest single season total. Slattery finished with a .471 average with six home runs and five triples to go along with his staggering doubles total.

"He had as good an offensive season as any player could expect," Central coach Steve Williams said. "He slugged nearly 1.000. He did everything you could ask for. He really hit the ball hard almost every time up."

Slattery led the Tigers in nearly every offensive category, including a record-breaking 34 RBIs. With his extra-base prowess Slattery finished with a robust .966 slugging percentage and .500 on-base percentage. The senior shortstop finished with 84 total bases, 50 more than the next-highest Central player.

"There at the end of the season looking back, it's pretty amazing, pretty exciting," Slattery said. "I wish I could have played those other three games [missed due to injury]."

After having his multi-hit streak snapped at a tournament in Kentucky, Slattery went on to put together a streak of seven straight games with an extra-base hit midway through the season. He had multiple hits in five of those games.

Among his best games this season was Central's district championship win over rival Jackson. Slattery went 3-for-4 in the game with two doubles, a solo home run and three RBIs. Slattery had missed three games late in the season leading up to the district tournament.

"The kid was hurt for a while and hadn't swung a bat in a few weeks," Williams said. "For him to do what he did shows what type of player he is."

The 6-foot-2 shortstop saw a sharp increase in his slugging from his junior to senior seasons. Slattery had just seven extra-base hits last year and did not hit a home run. Slattery also nearly doubled his RBIs output and increased his batting average by nearly 100 points.

"The thing that really made Blake a good hitter was he came out and could hit the ball to right-center," Williams said. "He could hit it the other way. He's always had pop, but once he started going the other way, that just opened the field for him."

Next year Slattery will join several area standouts at Mineral Area College. Former Central standout Ty Craft and Notre Dame graduate Shane Menz completed their freshmen seasons at MAC this past year, and Slattery will be joined by Jackson graduates Logan Lawson and Jason Meystedt in next year's class.

Southeast Missouri State and Murray State were among the schools Slattery was looking at before deciding on Mineral Area.

"Money-wise this will be a lot easier," Slattery said. "They have a good program and good coaches. I feel it will be a good fit for me. [The process] wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I just had to let things play out, and in the end, Mineral Area seemed like it had the most to offer me."

Slattery will hope to take a similar path as former Central player Sean Bard, who recently finished a strong first season at NCAA Division I Mississippi Valley State after a pair of standout seasons at MAC.

"Sean's had a great career," Slattery said. "I feel like I can do the same. Mineral Area has helped him, and hopefully it should be beneficial for me."

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