South Whidbey's home run king

"Kevin Arndt always had a sweet swing. All it took was some meat on his bones to start sending baseballs over the fence.Arndt finished the 2000 regular season as South Whidbey's all-time home run leader with seven four-baggers. If that doesn't sound Babe Ruthian, it's only because the season is so short. Seven homers in 20 games equates to 56 home runs on a Major League schedule. In those terms, he's hobnobbing with the likes of Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey, Jr.Arndt's bat is leading the Falcons as the North Cascades Conference playoffs begin this weekend. He's always a threat to knock the ball over the fence or rip a double off the fence -- he's also the Falcons' all-time leader in doubles.Veteran coach Bill Patterson wasn't surprised when Arndt started driving the ball over the fence with regularity this year. Arndt, the son of Cheryl and Ferryl Arndt of Freeland, started his career as a 5-foot, 9-inch, 145 pound freshman, and has grown into a 6-1, 180 pound senior.Even when he was a freshman he had a real nice swing, Patterson recalled. I had the seniors watch him in practice. He's got that natural demeanor -- he looks like a hitter.At one point this season, Patterson described Arndt's hitting as magical -- he's in a zone. And he stayed in that zone all year.As a junior, Arndt was known as Mr. Double for all the two-baggers hit it. He lifted weights last summer and attended a U.W. batting camp. I found my (home run) swing this year, he said. It just came to me -- loose hands, level swing.Arndt isn't picky at the plate. If it's going to be a strike I pretty much swing at it, he said. But he doesn't swing wildly. His incredible .477 batting average attests to that.A left handed hitter, Arndt avoids the traditional lefty problem of always pulling the ball to right field. He hits line drives to center and left center. I just try to hit it up the middle, he said.Home runs aren't even on his mind when he stands at the plate, and beating Dusty Metcalf's old home run record of four in a season wasn't a goal when this year began. I was just hoping to get one this year, Arndt said. Instead, Arndt collected 7, eclipsing Metcalf's old career record of 6 in a single season.Although modest about his abilities, Arndt has more than earned the respect of his teammates. We're in awe, said Brady Switzer, a sophomore who describes an Arndt-hit home as way out of here -- it's incredible.It's 340-feet to left center at Falcon Field, a distance coach Patterson calls a pretty nice little porch for hitters. Arndt's shots usually clear the fence with ease. He uses a 28 ounce, 33-inch aluminum Omaha brand bat he borrowed from Jimmy Berto, his Little League coach who he still admires. He taught me to have fun, Arndt said.Arndt also shows a deft fielding touch at second base where, with a week left in the regular season, he had made only three errors.The playoffs will be over soon, but not so Arndt's baseball career. Patterson said he's got what it takes to play at the next level, probably with a good junior college program. Wherever he goes to college, they'd better shore up the fences before he gets there."

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