Patience is paying off for Sky Sox first baseman Ben Paulsen.
The 26-year-old reached base safely for the 14th consecutive game Wednesday, singling in two runs in the first inning of Colorado Springs' 9-5 come-from-behind victory over Nashville. Paulsen finished 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored and extended his Pacific Coast League-leading hitting streak to 14 games as the Sky Sox improved to 15-17.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Clemson product leads the team in six offensive categories, including batting average (.331), home runs (six), hits (39) and RBIs (24). Paulsen is having fun playing on a team that has won four of its past five and is beginning to make strides.
"We've got a good ballclub, and it's always fun when you can come in here and win," said Paulsen, a third-round selection in the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. "It always feels good when you're hitting the ball, and once everyone around you starts hitting the ball, it's even better. Once everybody gets on board, we're going to be a tough team to reckon with."
Paulsen has been putting up impressive numbers in the minor leagues for years, leading the PCL in extra-base hits in 2013 with 60 and driving in at least 75 runs for the third time in four seasons.
For all of his raw skills and accomplishments, finding consistency has been Paulsen's biggest obstacle and goal. It is something he continues to work on with Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill and hitting coach Dave Hajek.
"He's always fought a little bit of inconsistency, and for Bennie, it's all about patience and discipline," Hajek said. "When he gets excited, over-anxious and tries to go get the ball, he gets himself in trouble. We've got a couple of drills we've been doing in the (batting) cage to help him with that, but part of it is just relaxing mentally and letting the pitch come to you."
Paulsen's day on Wednesday was an example of that. He struck out twice against the Brewers' No. 1 prospect, Jimmy Nelson, after singling to right off him with two outs in the first.
Hajek said Paulsen's talent and raw skills make him a dangerous hitter with great potential.
"There's no park in this league that can hold him," Hajek said. "He hits the ball to the opposite field as hard as anyone we have. He's really made some good progress in the last few weeks, and he had good numbers last year."
The mental aspect of hitting is often the toughest part of the game for players, a fact with which Paulsen agrees.
"This is a mental game, so just getting everything right and staying confident is the key," he said. "I over-swing and sometimes get too anxious up there, but you can't hit every pitch so you just have to relax and be patient. I just want to play consistently and go out there and play hard every day."
Trent Hale, a junior at Colorado-Colorado Springs, was named the first recipient of a Colorado Springs Sky Sox scholarship for future sports professionals. Hale, a Fort Morgan native, was awarded the scholarship based on his solid academic performance and application essay. He majored in pre-business before being accepted to the sport management program in UCCS' College of Business.