Lions’ big hits not a coincidence

Call it postseason magic or simply good timing — whatever it is, Briarwood’s bats are popping and producing runs.

Entering the Class 5A state championship series, the Lions have hit more than a dozen home runs in 10 games and are averaging at least seven runs a game in the postseason.

But quality hitting in the postseason is nothing new to first-year Briarwood assistant Daniel Furuto, who had one of the best bats in the nation during the 2006 NCAA Division II national tournament.

During the 2006 season, the University of Montevallo rightfielder saw an increase in his offensive numbers once the postseason began, leading to an 8-for-16 performance with four doubles and nine RBIs in four games at the regional tournament. The performance led to an MVP award for the former Briarwood Lion.

Now, Furuto is helping today’s Lions spread the field and find the same success he enjoyed three years ago.

“The ball’s been jumping off the bat in the playoffs,” senior catcher Debo Crew said.

Ask anyone on the team about hitting and Furuto’s name will come up. Ask Furuto and he’s just continuing the path that was laid before him.

“I just happened to be that extra piece,” he said.

Maybe Furuto is just an extra piece to the puzzle, or maybe he is the missing piece.

Briarwood players will step into the batter’s box today at Montgomery’s Paterson Field with the same confident swagger that Furuto stepped into the same box with during the 2006 NCAA tournament. Today will be Furuto’s first trip back to  Paterson since those games.

The dugouts of Paterson are special to Furuto, as they help symbolize the most fun month of baseball in his career. He’s living the second most fun month now as he hopes to help lead a group of players to a state title — which would be his first championship to be a part of.

After all, it is the state championship run that players never forget, no matter how many championships they may play.

Outside the Lines is a weekly opinion column.