PITTSFIELD — The sound the ball makes off of Pittsfield Post 68 catcher Matt Schneider's bat is different than most American Legion hitters. When he sent an RBI single back up the middle last week against Greenfield, the power he posses was evident — but the usual 'ting' of aluminum was replaced by the hollow thud made when wood strikes the baseball.
Not only does the Assumption College catcher/outfielder wield a wooden bat, but the all-blue model stands out among his teammates' crowd of shiny aluminum models.
"It's what my college uses," Schneider said. "I wanted to use wood all summer and mix in metal for different games. ... I feel comfortable because I've been swinging it for the last eight months."
Schneider started the Legion season batting cleanup. But a slight slump saw him move lower down the order. Since then, the former Wahconah standout switched back to the wood bat he used during college, leading to an improvement at the plate.
"Just getting some more live at-bats has been helping out," he said. "Being as comfortable at the plate as I can be. I felt going to wood maybe helped a little bit."
During his first season with the Greyhounds, Schneider had five multi-hit games to go along with 10 RBI and a home run.
He ended the Legion regular season on a high note, going 2 for 4 with a double and a RBI in a 8-0 win over Agawam Post 185.
Schneider's offensive turnaround could be crucial for another deep postseason run, as the American Legion regional playoffs begin Friday for Post 68.
Post 68 (15-3) earned the top seed in the second bracket of the tournament. They'll face fifth-seeded Wilbraham Red (10-9) at 5:30 p.m. at Clapp Park.
Pittsfield's backstop added that his job as a captain is to keep the team calm and focused on offense and defense. As his comfort increases at the plate, strong defensive performances tend to follow. That's bad news for teams hoping to keep Post 68 from earning their third straight trip to the Regional Championships in Bristol, Conn.
Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.