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Huron sophomore explodes onto the varsity scene PHOTO GALLERY

  • Huron sophomore Steele White blasted the Chiefs' first homer of the season Wednesday at Riverview. Photo gallery by Ricky Lindsay

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The short porch in left field at Riverview's baseball field, measured at 320 feet, is often neutralized by heavy gusts that roar towards home plate. When combined, the two elements form a more-than-welcomed duo for the Pirates' pitching staff.

Those elements, per usual, were in place for the Pirates' matchup with Huron on a humid Wednesday afternoon.

But when Steele White stepped up to the plate, none of it mattered.

On a 1-0 pitch, the Huron sophomore launched a two-run, first-inning home run over the left field fence at Riverview High School. As soon as the ball squared-up with White's silver and orange Easton Mako bat, he knew it would sail over the fence for his first career big fly.

"Getting pulled up as a sophomore, starting some of the games, then hitting the first home run on the team, it felt great," White said.

Rather than admire the shot, the right fielder made no haste in bursting out of the batter's box. After all, White's home run was the Chiefs' first in 21 games played this spring.

"I don't take anything for granted, so I was shouting at him to make sure he was on two," said Huron Coach Dan Kalbfleisch, acknowledging that a few feet separated White's homer from an extra base hit. "I him sprinting to make sure he got two in case it hit the wall or something. Once it got over, he was able to enjoy it and trot it out."

Inside Huron's dugout, White took a page out of Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson's book while joking with his teammates about his home run and fuzzy, brown beard.

"Fear the beard," White said, walking to Huron's Gatorade jug to quench his thirst. "Fear the beard."

His amusing, but serious personality not only helps him form bonds with teammates, but makes him a force on the playing field.

"Steele's a happy guy. He's a fun guy to be around," said Kalbfleisch, cracking a smile fit to be paired with a hearty laugh. "He's always upbeat, almost to a fault he's always upbeat. But that's why we really like him in football and baseball. He's got that killer instinct, but he's a laid back kind of guy."

Varsity baseball isn't always kind to the underclassmen that claw their way from the cutoff line to rosters and eventually, the lineup. White's been no exception this spring.

After adjusting to the game, he's managed to bump his batting average up to .200 and his OBP to .308. White said he's been in the batting cage "constantly" over the past few days to keep it going.

On Wednesday, the extra work brought out a slight power stroke.

"He's a sophomore, so earlier in the year, he had his struggles," Kalbfleisch said. "But really right now, he's getting the barrel to the ball and he's locked in pretty well, so I'm happy that he was able to do that. I'm hoping that turns into more hits and keeps the heat, keeps it hot."

With the MHSAA tournament quickly approaching, Kalbfleisch hopes White can provide a spark to Huron like he did on Wednesday.

"When you get a sophomore like that going, that's huge for us," he said.

With composite bats having to comply with Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR), home runs have become a rarity at the high school level, making White's all the more impressive.

"You don't see many home runs hit," Riverview Coach Chris Haut said. "We don't even have one. A sophomore hitting the ball that far, it's not easy."

Last Updated: 5/22/2014 1:01:30 AM EST