Instead of slapping Brent Lawson in the rear end, teammates slapped his helmet when he reached home plate at Corona del Mar High last Saturday.
The three runners Lawson brought home with a grand slam congratulated him. The hits to the head almost felt as good as the ones Lawson collected on the baseball field.
Lawson broke out with his first four-for-four performance at CdM. He homered, doubled and singled twice, and drove in six runs.
It turned out to be a career day for Lawson. Ideal timing as the junior helped the Sea Kings beat Beckman, 18-14, to win the Newport Elks Tournament Foothill Bracket title, the first tournament claimed in Coach John Emme's 14 years at CdM.
The effort by Lawson shows how much he has developed as a hitter. Through the first six games of the season, he batted .500 (nine for 18) with three home runs, 15 runs batted in and four doubles.
The number of hits is a total that took Lawson the first 20 games to achieve last season. He has already surpassed last season's two home runs, 13 RBIs and three doubles.
Coach John Emme sees a different player in the batter's box this year. A big reason for the fast start is due to Lawson moving from the infield to the outfield.
"He had some defensive issues in the infield and that carries with you when you go into the batter's box," Emme said of Lawson, who batted .229 last year. "It seems like the world is off his shoulders."
Playing left field has allowed Lawson to relax. No longer does he have to worry about fielding a groundball or turning a double play.
As a freshman, Lawson played shortstop and third as a sophomore. Even when the opposition is at-bat, he can focus on his approach at the plate.
"I think that it's helped, especially with my hitting," Lawson said. "When I played in the infield, I was more defensive focused."
Opponents are now trying to figure out how to play Lawson. He has the makeup of a No. 3 hitter, as he is hitting for average, power and driving in runs.
In Orange County, Lawson ranks first in RBIs and home runs. Lawson credits the numbers to the batters in front of him, the ones setting the table.
The Sea Kings (5-2) have two of the best in leadoff hitter Brian Ford and Will Morrow, a left-handed No. 2 hitter. The two have combined to score 23 runs in seven games.
Ford and Morrow are also in the outfield with Lawson. The two seniors have helped Lawson on defense as well.
"Having Ford out there [in center field], I can hug the line [in left field] and not have to worry about anything to my left because he's always there and he can absolutely fly," Lawson said. "Will has a big gun [in right field]."
Emme has been impressed with Lawson's ability in left field.
From the dugout, Emme can hear Lawson chatter out in left field. He never doubted whether Lawson could adjust to playing in the outfield.
"Nobody works harder than he does," said Emme, who believed the work ethic would pay off offensively for Lawson if he became more patient. "The big difference is that he's now taking pitches that he used to be swinging at all the time. He's more disciplined at the plate. I talked to him last year about how he could be a .330 hitter if he put balls in play, instead of a [.229] hitter."
Lawson has taken Emme's advice. He is batting .409 and leads the Sea Kings in home runs, RBIs and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Another area Lawson wants to lead CdM to is the top of the Pacific Coast League. The Sea Kings displayed in the tournament that they could beat Beckman, the defending league champion.
The victory gave CdM confidence going into its league opener at home Friday against Northwood at 3 p.m.
"You can talk all you want until you do something," Lawson said on whether CdM can claim a league title for the first time in five years.
Hometown: Newport Beach
Born: Oct. 9, 1993
Weight: 170 pounds
Position: Left fielder
Favorite food: In-N-Out
Favorite movie: "Italian Job"
Favorite athletic moment: "When we made the CIF semifinals my freshman year."
Week in review: Lawson went six for 10 with a grand slam, a solo home run, two doubles and 10 runs batted in and helped the Sea Kings beat Beckman, 18-14, in the Newport Elks Tournament Foothill Bracket title game.