The Stijn Streak: VDM warms up as season does

Published 11:22 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stijn van der Meer was settled in the Lamar baseball team bus Tuesday, looking back on a personal accomplishment that’s still in the making.

He’s only realized for the past four games how big his contribution has been to Lamar’s ongoing 15-game win streak, which it’s putting on the line Wednesday at Baylor. The left-handed batter recorded a hit in each of the past 22 games.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it up until 18 [games into the streak], when I got a hit on the left side, and I was like, ‘Oh, really?’” van der Meer said. “I was just really going with it. We were winning a lot of games after that.”

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Van der Meer, the Cardinals’ Dutch-born leadoff man and shortstop, actually got two hits in that game and drove in a run.

Where his streak ranks among others nationally isn’t clear, but it wasn’t the longest active as of Tuesday afternoon. Matt Reardon of Florida Gulf Coast hit in 24 straight going into a home game against 16th-ranked Florida Atlantic. The NCAA Division I record is 58 by Robin Ventura, set in 1987.

However, Stijn (“stine”) is one away from tying for third all-time at Lamar and six from matching Sam Bumpers’ 28-game run two years ago. During the Cards’ winning streak, van der Meer has batted .435.

Hitting coach Scott Hatten said it’s been fun to see van der Meer go on such a tear.

“A lot of hitting is his rhythm,” Hatten said. “He got off to a slow start, but once he saw pitches, he’s been getting his timing down, and that’s what it is with most good hitters. Timing is a little slow at the start of the season, but the last month and a half, it’s been really fun to watch.

“He’s been doing a great job, and the big thing is he’s hitting the ball to all fields, which I think has got him locked in pretty good.”

Hatten added van der Meer, who has one home run, has been “a tough out” because there’s not just one way to pitch against him.

Starting slow is nothing new to van der Meer, by his own admission. The Rosmalen, Netherlands, product, harkened back to his junior college days at Eastern Oklahoma State College, when he started with an average less than .200 both seasons.

It was just a matter of seeing more pitches before he found his groove.

His batting average has stayed above .300 since March 18 (.362 today), but he did not break that mark at any time before then. Through the opening series against Southeast Missouri State, he was hitting only at a .167 clip with (2 for 12) with one run driven in. Since, he’s had two strings of four or more games each with multiple hits.

“I’m just getting back in that rhythm,” van der Meer said. “Everything just feels better and smoother. I take better swings.”

The most recent one began April 3 in the Abilene Christian finale on the road, when he went 4 for 5. He lined two hits each against Nicholls State at home and was 3 for 4 this past Friday at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

“The last team I played, Corpus, I hit a ball really hard and it was right to center field for an out and I hit a little roller and it was a hit,” van der Meer said. “Luck also has a part in it. I’m just putting my best foot forward on the ball, and after it leaves the bat, there’s no control over what I can do. I’m just trying to make good contact with the ball, and hopefully good things will happen.”

Van der Meer wasn’t the only Cardinal with a hit streak running right into Lamar’s win string. Junior left fielder Reid Russell, who at one point this year homered in five straight games, had 18 games in a row with a hit from Feb. 28-April 2.

“Both of those guys compliment each other,” Hatten said. “When you’ve got two guys who are swinging it like that, it makes the lineup pretty dangerous.”


LAMAR (25-7) AT BAYLOR (16-16)

• When: 4 p.m. today

• Where: Baylor Ballpark, Waco

• Webcast: (subscription required)

• Rankings: Lamar No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper

• Probable starters: Lamar right-hander Jayson McKinley (2-0, 3.50 ERA) vs. Baylor righty Nick Lewis (1-3, 5.87)

• Leading hitters: Lamar, senior Stijn van der Meer (.362 BA, 46 hits, 14 RBI) and junior Bryndan Arredondo (.353 BA, 3 home runs, .517 slugging); Baylor, junior Darryn Sheppard (.344, 31 RBI, 5 home runs); sophomore Kameron Esthay (.333 BA)

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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