CARBONDALE — It’s the little things that Luke Mottashed is doing to help SIU’s lineup this year.

The senior catcher had two sacrifice bunts in the Salukis’ 8-5 win Sunday over Missouri State.

Mostly a backup since he arrived in Carbondale in 2011, Mottashed has found a place in the lineup as the designated hitter this year, and is batting .338 entering tonight’s series opener at Creighton. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound left-handed batter is hitting .364 in Valley play in seven games, second only to first baseman Ryan Casillas (.471) and outfielder/DH Wes Neece (.429).

“I think he’s battling real hard. That’s why we leave him in,” said SIU coach Ken Henderson. “Even left on left. He’s really working hard. He’s battling. He’s made some adjustments, mechanically, as well.”

Mottashed hit .292 in 20 games last year, 17 of them starts. The Cary native hit .386 in 2011 for Heartland Community College, a Division II junior college that finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Not completely happy with how he hit in the fall, Mottashed looked over video of some of his at-bats with assistant coach Ryan Strain, and made some adjustments. He shortened his stride and concentrated on putting more weight on his back foot this spring, and went on a 10-game hitting streak between March 28 and April 14. It was the longest hitting streak of his Saluki career.

“We looked at the video and saw what, mechanically, I was doing wrong, and worked on fixing that, and worked on my approach of going away,” Mottashed said. “I was out on my front foot a lot. I try to put more weight on my back leg.”

SIU (18-18, 2-7 Missouri Valley Conference) will need everything Mottashed can give them against the Bluejays (19-9, 5-4 MVC). The Salukis haven’t won a league series this year, and are 1-5 away from Abe Martin Field in Valley play.

Creighton, which is second in the league in hitting (.301) and No. 1 in fielding percentage, enters the three-game series two games out of first place.


On Twitter: @THefferman_SI

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