Chloe Krans has a good idea what the response from Nixa coaches, players and fans, as well as opposing coaches, players and fans has been in reaction to her recent home run surge.
The Lady Eagles’ junior second baseman is confident she knows what they all have been thinking because of what she has been thinking.
“I’ve surprised myself, so I can imagine other people are surprised, too,” Krans said.
Krans enters Districts this week with six home runs in her last 42 at-bats of the regular season. Previously, she homered once in her first 37 at-bats.
She had one home run in 24 at-bats last year and one homer in 72 at-bats as a freshman.
“It's been a very pleasant surprise,” Krans said. “I've been hitting a few more out than I expected. It's been exciting. It feels good to finally contribute not only on defense, but on offense, as well.”
The best glimpse Krans gave of her power potential came at Districts a year ago. She rocketed a home run off of former Nixa pitcher Jaden LaBarge in the Lady Eagles’ loss to Kickapoo.
But there didn’t seem to be a carryover effect. She was hitting .293 with only four extra-base hits a dozen games into this season. She endured a 5-for-22 funk.
“I got myself in a slump,” Krans said. “I worked hard to get out of it. I worked and focused during practices and I did a lot of work after practices. I had to change my swing a little bit. I did multiple drills to help my hands come forward. When I dropped my hands, that was causing elevation. Now, instead of hitting pop flies, I've been hitting more line drives.”
Krans was as responsible as any Nixa player for the Lady Eagles’ undefeated run to their COC championship. She delivered a two-run, fifth-inning home run in a 2-1 victory versus Joplin and her second home run of the day at Republic broke a six-all tie in the top of the seventh inning of a 7-6 win.
“I was still in my slump, but was starting to come out of it against Joplin,” Krans said. “I was thinking I at least wanted to get on base. If you go up thinking you're going to hit a home run, it's not going to happen.”
“It seems like she has been cherishing those moments,” coach Matt Walker said.
Krans indeed should cherish her heroics. She’s had to work for everything she’s got. Due to an ankle injury, she played in just one game prior to October of last year. She reports her rehab and even her return were exhausting.
“It was very difficult mentally and physically,” Krans said. “I had to work hard. There was a lot of (physical therapy) and a lot of mental work getting myself back to running. When I got off my ankle scooter, I was scared I was going to hurt my ankle again.”
Krans’ commitment in the weight room and a growth spurt that saw her jump from 5-foot-4 as a freshman to 5-8 last summer have combined to make her the Lady Eagles’ newest and most potent power threat.
Krans’ seven home runs lead a lineup that has 28 round-trippers altogether.
“I am much stronger and more fit than I have ever been,” Krans said. “I feel more confident.”
She adds her twin brother, Gavin, has helped bring out her best.
“With him also being a multi-sport athlete and playing baseball, we work out together and do the same baseball/softball exercises,” Chloe said.
Going forward, any scouting reports on Nixa that didn’t include Krans earlier surely will make note of her during Districts and as far as the Lady Eagles advance.
“We've hid her in the lineup (batting sixth or seventh) and some teams don't pitch to the bottom half of the lineup as tough as the top,” Walker said. “But I think everyone is aware of her now.”
“If I do homer now,” Krans adds, “I don't think it's going to be a surprise anymore.”
Class 5 District 6
1 p.m. — Springfield Central (1-14) vs. Nixa (20-8); 3 p.m. — No. 5 Carthage (20-130 vs. No. 4 Kickapoo (18-10); 5 p.m. — No. 7 Glendale (17-10) vs. No. 2 Ozark (22-7); 7 p.m. — No. 6 Joplin (15-13) vs. No. 3 Republic (15-9-1)
4:30 p.m. — Carthage-Kickapoo winner vs. Central-Nixa winner; 6:30 p.m. — Joplin-Republic winner vs. Glendale-Ozark winner
4:30 p.m. — Championship