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All Day Oday: Another Brilliant Season at the Plate for the Wildcats

Coming off an all-conference junior season, senior Oday Al-Yatim has improved his numbers in every way, and leads the Hazelwood West Wildcats in batting average, hits, RBIs, and on-base percentage.

Even after delivering a last year as the starting catcher for the varsity baseball team, senior Oday Al-Yatim just wasn't satisfied.

Nevermind he hit .342 and had 17 runs batted in, for a team that made it to the district championship game. He was also selected as the designated hitter for the Suburban North Conference all-star team last year.

Al-Yatim spent the entire offseason believing he didn't really play his best his junior year, and that he needed to have a big senior season if he really wanted to showcase his talents.

"That's just the kind of kid Oday is," said Hazelwood West head coach Matt McClellan. "He's an unbelievable hard-worker. He works on every aspect of his game everyday. And you can really see where he's improved. He's having a fantastic year for us."

Boy is he ever, especially in the last two weeks, when Al-Yatim had three different three-hit games, including a 3-for-4 day on Thursday, when West walloped Riverview Gardens High, 8-0.

Now, as West heads into the final week of the regular season, Al-Yatim is the Wildcat team leader in several offensive categories, including batting average (.433), total hits (29), RBIs (20), and on-base percentage (.486).

Every one of those numbers is already better than Al-Yatim's final all-conference totals from last year, most impressively led by the .433 batting average and 20 RBIs, which both rank third-best in the Suburban North among regular everyday starters.

Al-Yatim has also vastly improved as a defensive player and game manager behind the plate for the Wildcats.

Last year, teams were pretty aggressive on the basepaths against Al-Yatim, and stole a number of bases and advanced on nearly every wild pitch or passed ball.

But this season, Al-Yatim has already thrown out several runners that tried to steal second base against him, and he's also picked off several other runners that dared stray too far from the base they were on when he was behind the plate watching them.

"As for me, offensively, I want to have at least a .400 batting average, with a couple home runs," Al-Yatim told The Prep Baseball Report last winter. "Defensively, I don't want any passed balls, and I want runners to be scared of running on me."

Except for the home runs, which is a particularly difficult task with Al-Yatim playing at least half his games at West's spacious Beckemeier Field, the Wildcats' senior sensation has accomplished every one of those goals.

And the college scouts and recruiters have definitely been noticing Al-Yatim's improvements, having made appearances at at least five recent games, hoping to see something special from West's hot-hitting backstop.

"Well, St. Charles Community College was here asking about him today," McClellan said, after a game last Saturday. "And we've gotten inquiries from some others.

"They're starting to take notice, and Oday's responded by playing even better than he had before."

No official offers have been made just yet, but local Division II and Division III schools like the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Lindenwood, Truman State, Fontbonne and Webster University have all been out recently to take notes and watch Al-Yatim in action.

Al-Yatim will get his final chances to show off what he can do with three games this week, before West appears in next week's MSHSAA Class 4 District 6 Tournament.

The Wildcats will meetup with the Pirates at Pattonville Tuesday, and will host a home game on Wednesday against No. 2-ranked Francis Howell Central.

West, which was named the district's No. 1 seed earlier this week, will host either McCluer North or Riverview Gardens, in the district semifinals on Monday, May 14.

"It's getting to be that time of year," McClellan said. "We don't usually look too far ahead. We try to just concentrate on that next game.

Should the Wildcats win that day, they would then advance to the district championship game, which would be played at West on Wednesday, May 16.

"We just want to be playing our best when the districts get here," McClellan said. "Then we'll let the chips fall as they may."

REMAINING HAZELWOOD WEST BASEBALL SCHEDULE

May 7   vs. Wentzville Holt                                   4:15 pm

May 8   at Pattonville                                           4 pm

May 9   vs. Francis Howell Central                        4:15 pm

May 14 vs. McCluer N./Riverview winner               4:15 pm

May 16 MSHSAA District Championship at Hazelwood West  TBA

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