Remember May 12th? It was Mother's Day and the Diamond Dawgs were playing in Oxford. After losing the first two games of the series State was down 6-0 going into the 6th inning. Things looked bleak. The hope of hosting a Regional was slipping through our fingers. But things turned around that afternoon as the Bulldogs scored five runs in the 6th and two more in the 7th to take a 7-6 lead they would not relinquish. Since that game MSU has been on a tear: 14-3 over the last 17 including that one. One of the key contributors that has been doing it under the radar is Demarcus Henderson.
I got this email from a friend on May 6th with the subject line "Demarcus Henderson":
What is his average in SEC play this year? Can't be good.
My response: just .170, and only .250 overall. The fact was Henderson was in a slump. He couldn't get anything to fall and on top of that he led the team in grounding into double plays.
In Oxford Demarcus began his tear with runners in scoring position. In the Game 2 loss, he singled with runners on the corners for his 13th RBI. The next day, as a part of the big comeback mentioned above, he singled with the bases loaded to score the 2nd of 5 runs in that 6th inning.
Henderson struggled for much of the season in a platoon with Jacob Robson. Hendu would start vs. lefties, Robson vs. righties. Neither one was producing very much, and you could say the Freshman, Robson, had more moments than Henderson, the Junior. But Robson's last start would be against Oral Roberts on May 14th as Henderson took advantage of his starts vs. four straight LHP in the South Carolina series and Game 1 of the SEC Tournament vs. Missouri. From then on he's been producing, especially in key moments. Here are ABs during this 17-game run with runners in scoring position.
|OM||6th||1-6||2nd & 3rd||1||single, RBI|
|OM||7th||5-6||2nd & 3rd||1||strikeout|
|USC||6th||1-2||2nd & 3rd||1||fielder's choice|
|USC||9th||4-3||2nd & 3rd||2||single, RBI|
|A&M||5th||3-2||2nd & 3rd||1||walk|
|Vandy||5th||4-13||2nd & 3rd||0||groundout, RBI|
|Virginia||3rd||3-3||3rd||1||sac fly, RBI|
|Oregon St.||2nd||1-2||2nd & 3rd||0||single, RBI|
During this stretch, Henderson has started 16 of the 17 games and gone 11 for 21 (.524) with runners in scoring position with 10 RBI. Since Game 2 of the South Carolina series, he has started all 14 games and gone 10 for 17 with RISP (.588) - in the 6th inning or later during those games he is 6 for 9.
Demarcus' season average has climbed from that .250 mark up to .281. He has no power to speak of with only three of his 47 hits going for doubles, and he has no home runs or triples. But he is clutch.
Wes Rea is getting a lot of the attention for his late game heroics and deservedly so, but don't forget about Demarcus.