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Benavides thriving as Alexander's No. 9 hitter

Posted Date: 03/27/2024

Benavides thriving as Alexander's No. 9 hitter

Nine-hole batter used to be considered the worst hitter on a baseball team. But times have changed. That’s not the case anymore. Now these days, the nine-hole batter is considered an extension of the leadoff hitter. And Hector Benavides has played that role perfectly this season for the Alexander Bulldogs. 

Alexander defeated LBJ 5-0 on Tuesday to move to 3-0 in District 30-6A play. The Bulldogs’ top of the lineup struggled, going a mere 1 for 10. But their bottom of the lineup excelled, and Benavides was a big reason for that. 

The sophomore outfield went 2 for 3 with an RBI. His single in the top of the fourth inning helped the Navy & Gold extend their lead to 3-0. And his performance was a continuation of his recent solid play. 

“He’s been a pleasant surprise for us this year,” Alexander head coach Fernando Lemus said. 

Benavides was 5 for 13 with two RBIs and five runs over the team’s last five matchups, prior to Tuesday’s game. During that stretch, Alexander went 4-1.  

Lemus praised Benavides’ performance this season as the team’s nine-hole hitter. According to him, whenever Benavides gets on base, that usually increases the Bulldogs’ chances of winning. 

“Our nine-hole man is an extension of our leadoff man,” Lemus said. “When he gets on, good things happen for us. He’s a dual threat, he can lay down the bunt well and he’s been hitting well. He’s a plus player in the outfield.” 

Benavides considers his speed as his biggest asset. Whenever he’s asked to lay down a bunt – which he’s been asked to do a handful of times this season – it's typically a photo-finish as he is always a threat to reach base.  

On Tuesday, Benavides showed off his speed as he reached base on a drop third strike.  

“I am just using my speed,” Benavides said. “I bring in the infield with my bunts. I am just doing my best.” 

Benavides’ speed is why he’s in the nine-hole spot. According to Lemus, whenever Benavides gets on base, that usually sets up the top of the lineup to be productive. 

Now, a lot of players dream of being the top-of-lineup hitters. And that’s not surprising as usually the team’s best hitters bat in spots 1-4. However, Benavides has enjoyed his time being Alexander’s nine-hole hitter, especially with the amount of success he has experienced. 

“I really like it,” Benavides said of hitting ninth. “It’s my first season being in the nine hole. It’s basically a second leadoff. 

“I feel like a second leadoff guy. I feel lately, I’ve been starting to get things going for the team and do what I do.” 

Benavides feels he just needs to keep on grinding during practice to ensure his recent solid play continues for the remainder of the season. 

The nine-hole hitter used to be considered the team’s worst hitter. But that’s not the case anymore. With the evolution of the sport and the amount of strategy that goes into the sport now, the nine-hole hitter is typically an extension of the leadoff hitter. The player is usually one who could be the team’s leadoff man if need be. And Benavides has played that role perfectly this year. 

Alexander aims to win a district title this season. It seems well on its way of doing so, starting league action 3-0. Benavides’ play has been a big reason why the Bulldogs have started off so well. And if he continues to play like he has been for the remainder of the year, Alexander’s chances of winning a league championship should increase tenfold. 

“It’s big because when our top of the lineup is dragging a bit, we need that bottom of the lineup to step up and Hector has done that for us,” Lemus said. “He just finds a way to get on base. And when he’s on base, he’s going to find a way to score. He’s dangerous.”