Claim to fame: Sluss is leading the Knights (15-13) in almost every statistical category at the plate, batting a team-high .438 with 35 hits, five triples, seven doubles, 19 RBIs, 29 runs, a .516 on-base percentage, and a 1.203 OPS (on-base plus slugging) as the team’s leadoff hitter. Heights, which made the playoffs for the first time since 2010, won both games of the 8-5A play-in series Saturday to earn the No. 3 seed over Shoemaker and Ellison.
What was the play-in series like for you?
It was really exciting, kind of got us in the playoff spirit. It was a (playoff) atmosphere when we got there, all the fans were there cheering us on, and it was win or go home, and that’s how it’s going to be in the playoffs.
Harker Heights last made the playoffs in 2010, what is it like to be back in this year?
It’s a great feeling, especially for us seniors, because we really wanted this at the start of the season, we knew we had the team to do it, and it’s just great that at the end of the season we’re where we wanted to be.
You hit your first home run of the season on the third pitch against Ellison on Saturday, what was that like?
At first I didn’t know it was out. I had no idea until I saw coach (Cunningham) and I kind of put it together. I thought it was just a fly ball to center field like I did the night before when I led off with a triple. But I guess the wind was helping me there.
You cleared the scoreboard in right-center field, have you ever hit a ball that far?
I don’t believe so, that’s the farthest one I’ve hit.
Generally, first basemen aren’t leadoff guys, so what has the move to the leadoff position been like for you?
It’s different. I still take the same approach, I want to find a way on base, but I’m willing to take a few more pitches now. I’m still going to be aggressive early in the count, but I understand my job is to get on base. (I don’t want to) change anything just because coach put me there.
How has the move changed your role, if any?
I don’t think anything has changed. I know my job is to find a way on base and he moved me into the leadoff spot because I was getting the job done. Back in the 3 or 4 hole, my job was to get more RBIs, and now it’s to get more runs for the team.
You’re one of eight seniors on the team, what’s it mean to y’all to be ending your high school career as a playoff team?
It’s exciting because the last team to go to the playoffs, we were just freshmen, so none of us have the experience of going. We’ve been playing together for four years, the eight of us and we’re a huge chunk of the team, and so we have great chemistry and that’s helping us.
There are several underclassmen starters on the team, how is that dynamic shaping out?
It’s baseball, if a freshman comes out and does his job better than a senior, the freshman earns the spot.
What part of your game do you take the most pride in?
Definitely offense. I’m having a great year this year and hopefully I can continue that through the postseason.
Do you have any pregame rituals you have to do?
Yeah, I always have a pack of Sour Patch Kids with me at the games. I don’t know why, I guess I had a pack with me before when I had a really good game and I’ve had it ever since.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566