By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – A player in the middle of a breakthrough season can sometimes point to one element as the reason for the increase in production.
An uptick in training, a shift in schedule, a mechanical tweak or a change in preparation.
Caleb Sass isn’t sure what has triggered his breakthrough senior season and the City High shortstop really doesn’t mind that uncertainty.
“I don’t feel any different from other years, it’s just happening,” Sass explained. “Something just clicked, I don’t know what it is but it’s a good feeling though.”
Sass should feel good.
A three-year starter for the Little Hawks, Sass is putting together an impressive season in his final summer in a City High uniform.
Sass leads Class 4A fifth-ranked City High with a .433 batting average and a .578 on-base percentage, both career bests by a wide margin.
“I would define Caleb as he is real salty,” City High coach Brian Mitchell said. “He gets the game, he understands it, he understands the game as well as anybody. He understands what pitchers are doing to him and how to adapt and make adjustments throughout games.”
Sass was no slouch in his first two seasons of varsity action.
He hit .330 as a varsity starter as a sophomore and followed that up with a .301 average last year.
After two strong seasons the past two seasons, Sass is on pace to eclipse his career high in every major offensive category this year.
His six doubles match his career-high and he hit his first career home run in a win over Cedar Rapids Xavier on Monday.
He has already set a career high in runs and stolen bases (15) and needs six RBIs to surpass his career-best total of 18 from a season ago.
“I’ve always seen the ball well, I think it’s just I have put on more muscle as the years have gone on I’m hitting ball farther,” Sass said. “I’m sitting at my mark from last year for doubles already."
Sass hit fifth for the Little Hawks last season and started the season in the number two spot in the lineup this year.
However, he has found a home in the leadoff spot.
His team-high 35 runs rank second in Class 4A and his .578 OBP is fourth best in 4A among players with at least 50 at bats.
“He consistently has good at bats and he gets on base,” Mitchell said. “He leads us in batting average and having him on base allows us to do a lot of different things.
The longer the season has gone the better Sass has gotten and City High has followed suit.
City High (19-5) has won nine straight games and 15 of its last 16 after a doubleheader sweep of Xavier on Monday.
Sass has been at his best over the past week going 9-for-20 with 12 runs during a seven-game span.
During that stretch, Sass has been walked seven times and hit by a pitch four others while scoring 12 runs and stealing eight basses.
“That’s my job to get on base any way I can, I will sacrifice my hits for walks or hit by pitches because I know those guys will end up bringing me in,” Sass said. “That’s why I have such a high run total it’s because those guys behind me I trust them to bring me in.”
Sass also has driven in eight runs over the last seven games thanks in part to a three-run home run against Xavier.
“He’s doing a great job for us and as a defender, he continues to improve too,” Mitchell said. “It hasn’t been easy for him every step of the way but he definitely understands the game as well as anybody.”