Jun. 11—CHEYENNE — Zack Costopoulos found himself chasing a lot of pitches last season.
The cleanup hitter for the Cheyenne American Legion Post 6 squad worked on that issue during the off-season, cleaned things up, and has been a force for the Sixers' offense this year.
"He's seeing the ball really well, he's on time for every fast ball and he's not chasing the breaking ball, which he did a little bit at times last year," Sixers coach Ty Lain said. "He's kind of eliminated that. That's allowed him to swing at good pitches and he has a great swing, so when he's swinging at the right pitches, he has the ability to have a lot of success."
Costopoulos said that he was often looking to do too much last season, and wasn't necessarily letting the game come to him.
"I was swinging at a lot of curveballs in the dirt," he said. "I was just trying too hard, putting too much pressure on myself to get hits last year, and now I'm relaxed."
A relaxed Costopoulos is an opposing pitcher's nightmare. The junior is having a standout season at the plate, currently leading the Sixers by batting .474 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of 1.343. Costopoulos also paces Cheyenne with 60 RBIs, the next closest RBI total being 27.
Prior to Tuesday's contest against Laramie, he was hitting at a .500 mark, which is a tall number to maintain, especially through 37 games in the season.
"He expects to produce for us and drive runs in," Lain said. "He knows that's kind of what his role is and he gets after it for sure."
The first basemen has also five home runs on the season, which also paces the team. One of those came in the sixth inning Wednesday in a victory over Laramie.
He smashed the ball to center field on the first pitch he saw during the at bat.
"My approach is middle away," Costopoulos said. "So, if (the pitcher) throws me anything on the outside corner of the plate, I'm going to put my best swing on it and put it in center field or the right center gap."
Colter McAnelly typically bats in the top of the Sixers' lineup. He knows it's a luxury to have Costopoulos in the batter's box after he gets on base, which has been exactly 50% of the time season.
"He has good vision, he sees the ball good out of the hand," McAnelly said. "He's hitting the ball so good, it's crazy."
There are a handful of schools at the next level that have Costopoulos on their radar, including Power 5 programs. If he can continue to put together performances like he has, the calls could keep coming in.
One of the biggest reasons for the success is a mentality shift from last year, he said.
"I focused a lot on the mental side of the game during the offseason," Costopoulos said. "That was probably my biggest failure last year because I had all the skills, but I just wasn't right mentally, so that's what I got right this year."
Post 6 (31-8) will play in the Perfect Game Midwest Series in Olathe, Kansas, this weekend starting with a contest at 3 p.m. today against the 643 Kansas City Scout Team. Costopoulos is looking to carry his hot bat into the tournament, and into the rest of the season.
"I just need to play each game one game at a time and one pitch at a time," he said. "And have a short memory playing the game, because that's the best way to play the game."
Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.