LAKEWOOD RANCH --
Zack Larson was interested in Powerball.
As he entered his final baseball season at Lakewood Ranch, Larson looked back at his junior year and thought he was a little too passive at the plate.
He was taking too many pitches, which typically put him in too many pitcher's counts.
And he wanted to do something about it.
"The main thing I did this year was jump on the baseball," Larson said. "If I saw a good pitch, I wanted to swing at it, because I didn't know if I would see another one."
Less patience proved pivotal to Larson, whose big year with the bat helped Lakewood Ranch reach the Class 6A state final four and helped Larson nab All-Area Baseball Player of the Year honors.
"He was the guy we wanted up in a key situation. And if he wasn't batting, he was the guy we wanted on base because he could steal second and steal third and wait for someone to drive him in," Mustangs coach Mike Mullen said. "We knew he'd find a way to get it done."
Larson did just about everything for Lakewood Ranch, leading the team in home runs (four), RBIs (32), slugging (.703) and on-base percentage (.516) and batting .426 and scoring 41 runs while striking out just six times in 101 at-bats.
And Larson stayed true to his new approach, averaging just 3.4 pitches per plate appearance. Larson did rein in his aggressiveness when needed: He had 19 at-bats that lasted six pitches or more, which was second on the team to Bryan Van Vranken.
"I consider myself a contact hitter," Larson said. "I hit home runs, but I just tried to put the ball in play."
That was a good plan, too, considering Larson was 22 of 23 in stolen base attempts and one of the Mustangs' fastest players.
"He was always a tough out," Mullen said. "He used his speed to his advantage. A lot of times, he'd hit a ground ball to the shortstop's right and beat it out by two steps.
"He runs like the wind."
Larson's big year caught the eye of the Minnesota Twins, who picked him during the 20th round of this year's amateur draft. He said he is still debating whether to sign with the Twins or head to State College of Florida.
"My parents and I are still talking about it," Larson said. "It's up in the air right now."
What isn't up in the air is how well Larson took to his new approach this spring and the role he played in helping the Mustangs reach the state semifinals for the first time in a decade.
Larson, however, isn't as aggressive when it comes to accepting a lot of the praise.
"We had 12 seniors," he said. "All of us stepped up; all of us became leaders."