Barna’s hitting tear a bonus for 18th-rated Lambuth
Former South Tahoe High catcher Chris Barna only needs to look at the other eight Lambuth University (Jackson, Tenn.) starters for inspiration.
As the only Eagle starter not hitting .300 or better, Barna has begun the quest of quashing that distinction. The junior collected six hits in a three-game series with Campbellsville, Ky., last weekend, raising his average from .215 to .275.
“I finally had a good weekend,” said Barna, who is the youngest son of STHS softball coach Rich Barna. “I stopped trying to hit a home run and just tried to make contact.”
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Barna also augmented the team’s regular practice routine with extra work to help his hitting.
“I’ve been working my butt off. I spent three or four hours a day hitting off a tee,” he said.
Not that Barna was in any jeopardy of losing his starting position going into the breakout weekend.
“My coach isn’t worried about my batting. He’s told me that I’m his defensive catcher and if I hit the ball it’s a bonus,” Barna said. “It takes a lot of pressure off, but I’m a competitive person and want to do better and better.”
Lambuth missed a chance to take sole possession of first place in the Mid-South Conference last weekend.
Even so, the Eagles are 14-2 in conference play, 35-13 overall and ranked 18th nationally among NAIA schools. Among their 35 wins are triumphs over NCAA Division I foes Vanderbilt and Tennessee Martin.
It’s a good situation for Barna, who is playing for his fifth program in four years, including a medical redshirt for Tommy John elbow surgery.
“It’s been quite a tour,” said Barna, who also spent time at Cal State Bernardino, Nevada-Reno, Westmont in Santa Barbara and Consumes River Junior College in Sacramento. “I’ve been in some programs where the coach is yelling and screaming and he’s all over you. Here, it’s a lot more laid-back. Everyone knows we’re good and we just go out and do it.
“Obviously, it works. We’re 18th in the nation.”
But that doesn’t mean that Barna has adjusted to all that goes with living an hour away from Music City – Nashville.
“I’ve tried listening to country music, but I couldn’t do it,” he said. “It’s too depressing.
“It’s a different way of life here. I definitely prefer life in California, but as far as ball goes and school goes, you can’t beat it.”
Unless he was to take his batting average over .300.
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