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Having started since his freshman season, junior first baseman Sean Phelan is having his best year yet, leading Penn baseball in both batting average and on-base percentage.

Credit: Chase Sutton

It shouldn’t be a surprise that junior Sean Phelan is hitting well, and Penn baseball’s offense is coming along as a result. 

The Quakers have put 27 runs on the board over the last two games, and Phelan is one of the driving forces behind their success. He leads the team in both batting average (.319) and on base percentage (.424), and he sports an impressive slugging percentage (.487), which is second highest on the team.

These numbers are an improvement from last year’s already strong .323/.383/.473 slash line, as it's clear that Phelan was and continues to be a huge part of Penn’s offense. Phelan credits his comprehensive preparation for his success at the plate.

“It’s mental and physical; the preparation that goes in every year,” Phelan said. “On a physical level, it keeps me healthy and consistent throughout the year, and on the mental level, we work with a sports psychologist and I’ve really bought into that stuff.”

Baseball is both a physical and mental game, and hitting especially requires physical qualities such as power and hand speed along with patience and selectivity. Phelan has emphasized improving upon these aspects, and more in his preparation, and the results don’t lie.

Credit: Chase Sutton

So far this season through 31 games, Phelan has walked 15 times, which has already surpassed his total of 14 walks in 45 games from a year ago. What explains this uptick in walks? It’s related to another part of Phelan’s offensive game that he has improved: power.

“I’m hitting for a little more power this year, so getting some better counts, more offspeed pitches [result in] more walks,” Phelan said.

Primarily hitting in the third or fourth spots in the lineup, Phelan obviously sees more off-speed pitches than the average hitter. Part of the reason for this is that, with four dingers on the year, he is a threat to put the ball over the fence at any moment, so pitchers are forced to be more careful in their pitch selection and placement.

Another explanation for Phelan’s increase in walks and on-base percentage is his approach at the plate. 

“We talk a lot about approach with coaches and seeing good pitches and swinging at good pitches,” Phelan said. “It sounds simple, but if you maximize swinging at strikes and you take all the balls, then you’re going to have a really good chance to be successful.”

Credit: Chase Sutton

Phelan isn’t the only reason Penn’s offense has become so potent over the past week, however. One of the main reasons for its success is that it has multiple contributors throughout the entire lineup. 

A six-run inning last Friday and a five-run inning on Saturday against Princeton along with a huge twelve-run inning against La Salle on Tuesday were made possible by the entire offense stringing hits together.

“Matt McGeagh has had some unbelievable games, Matt O’Neil, the list goes on," Phelan said. "Chris Adams, Eduardo Malinowski, there’s always somebody stepping up."

These are just a few of the hitters that have helped the Red and Blue (11-19-1, 5-6-1 Ivy) to more wins in recent series and individual games. Phelan and the rest of the offense will try to continue to uplift the entire team in its final home series this weekend against Cornell (6-16-1, 2-7), where the Quakers will need a series win to stay in Ivy title contention.