Maleta produces record-breaking year
Chris Maleta's reputation as a hitter is well known throughout the Kaw Valley League.
Case in point:
The Basehor-Linwood baseball team throttled Tonganoxie in the first round regional game meaning the Tonganoxie bullpen saw plenty of action.
As one new pitcher left the bullpen to take his spot on the mound, a friend of the pitcher in the crowd brought a sobering fact to his attention.
"Oh great, you have to come in against Maleta," the fan said and laughed.
The respect was justifiable, as Maleta became one of the best power hitters in Bobcat history. He swung so hard one time he actually broke his bat in two as if it were wooden.
His career and season statistics are worth noting, and teammates speculate they are Bobcat records.
Unfortunately, Basehor-Linwood has never kept an official record of baseball statistics, so nobody knows if they are records.
"I'm pretty satisfied, except for the end of the year at regionals," Maleta said. "But you can't always be on the top of things. Overall, I did better than I expected."
The 2003 season was a return to form for Maleta. He hit eight home runs with 41 RBIs this year a vast improvement from his junior year. He also hit eight home runs as a sophomore and knocked in 26 runs.
Sandwiched between a pair of eight homer seasons, Maleta had an off year. His grandfather died early in the year, and Maleta never found the concentration for baseball.
He hit only three home runs, and the team did not even keep track of his RBIs as a junior.
"My junior year, I wasn't all there," Maleta said. "I didn't get in my groove."
He never felt comfortable during his junior year, but he remembers the game this year when he knew he was back.
"My sophomore year I got into a zone," Maleta said. "The game at Royals' stadium, it clicked again. The game before that I hit three home runs against Tonganoxie, but I knew I had found my stroke at Kauffman Stadium."
During that stretch, he had 20 RBIs in five games.
He slowed from that pace, but he will take his big bat to Kansas City Kansas Community College next year.
KCKCC is close to home for Maleta, and ultimately a stepping-stone.
"It will be insane," Maleta said. "I've heard some of the stories, and I'm looking forward to it. Basically, it's a spot to get really good at and go to division one. I'll go wherever I go for free."
Until then, he is still pounding the ball in the summer. He is on a summer team, and he said the ball is still flying off his bat.
"This summer is going great," Maleta said after a game in Manhattan. "I have hit some incredible bombs."