Templeton High senior Michael Frigon attempted to lay down a bunt in a baseball game against Nipomo earlier this season. But he fouled it off.
The Titans third baseman already was playing in and scooted even closer to the plate after Frigon’s miscued attempt.
Frigon, a lightning fast runner, didn’t care. He laid down another bunt at the drawn-in infield that “couldn’t have been tossed out there with your hand any better,” Templeton coach Brand Macomber said.
“He knew, with his speed, that all he needed to do was get it down,” Macomber said. “They had no chance on him.”
To say that Frigon is off to a hot start is hardly doing him justice.
Last week, after 12 games, Frigon ranked ninth in the state with a .641 batting average among players from all teams that post their stats on maxpreps.com.
He has cooled a bit over the past two games, but he’s still hovering around .600 with a lofty .578 average — about .130 higher than the next closest hitter in the Los Padres League, according to maxpreps.com
“In this game, to hit over .600,” Macomber said, “that’s just ridiculous. We went down to Cabrillo, and he was hitting about .600, and we were thinking how can you raise your average? And then he did it. He went 4 for 5.”
The switch-hitter comes from an athletic family. His father, Gerry Frigon, was a walk-on shortstop on the UC Santa Barbara baseball team. His mother, Karen Taylor, now Karen Frigon, set track records as a Gaucho.
Michael Frigon, who will play baseball at Westmont College next year, is the heart and soul of a Templeton team that’s among the best in the county this season.
The Eagles are 12-2 and 5-1 in the LPL, and they’ve beaten Atascadero, Righetti and San Luis Obispo already in matchups against the bigger PAC 7 schools. Last week, they won a 6-5 comeback thriller against Lompoc, a team that was undefeated in the LPL at the time and now is tied for first with Templeton in the LPL.
Lompoc and Templeton shared the LPL title last season.
Frigon has thrived in his role as a leadoff man by getting on base, stealing and scoring runs.
His on-base percentage is .661, he’s 18 for 18 in stolen base attempts and he has crossed the plate 21 times — nearly twice as many as anyone else on the team.
“He has matured a lot,” Macomber said. “He used to be very hard on himself. If he didn’t execute, he’d beat himself up over it. Now, he gets over it quickly and moves on.”
In the comeback win against Lompoc, Frigon made a catch on a liner in the right field gap that seemed destined for extra bases.
Making it look easy, he took off running and swooped under the ball, grabbing it on the run to help keep the Eagles in the game.
Frigon was named to The Tribune second team all-county team as outfielder last year as a junior, hitting .333 with 12 stolen bases and 21 runs scored.
This year, he has eclipsed some of those stats already with seven regular season games remaining, including his hit and stolen base numbers.
Frigon has focused exclusively on baseball since his junior year. He also played football his freshman and sophomore years.
“My real passion was to play baseball and get to the next level, and so I decided to focus on that,” Frigon said.
He played on two summer league teams to hone his skills. In the offseason, he lifts weights and runs sprints every other day.
Frigon got stronger physically and tweaked his stride to make his swing more fluid, hitting more line drives now than he ever has. He also took a different mental approach.
“My only goal this season was to have fun,” Frigon said. “In the past, I would set goals for myself and maybe thinking about all of it didn’t help very much. Since I knew where I was going to college before the start of the season, I decided just to have fun and relax and that’s made a big difference.”
Frigon looks for a ball in the strike zone and unleashes with his compact, quick bat, without over-thinking the type of pitch that might be thrown or worry about his swing technique.
He credits his father, Gerry, for teaching him to switch hit. As a right-handed thrower who can bat from both sides of the plate, he’s ideally suited for the next level of college ball. From the left-side of the plate, being closer to first base, he has a handful of bunt hits so far this season.
“Since I was little, my dad pushed me to switch-hit,” Frigon said. “In the seventh grade, I decided to go full board with it and I haven’t strayed from it yet. My dad says all the time ‘I wish I’d learned to switch hit.’ ”
At the next level at Westmont, Frigon is guaranteed a spot on the team as a walk-on at the NAIA school. But he’ll have to compete for a starting role.
His hot bat and speed should help. Frigon said he was clocked at 6.53 in the 60-yard dash indoors and 6.57 on grass, which would make him three-tenths of a second faster than the average Major League Baseball player.
“I had it narrowed to the University of Dallas and Westmont,” Frigon said. “Westmont has a beautiful field, I really liked the coach, and my sister goes there. It was the best fit for me.”
Despite not really having any specific personal goals this season, Frigon is very clear in his vision for his team.
The Eagles would like to win league and advance deep into playoffs after getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs last year after an 18-4 overall record and 10-2 league season in which they shared the league championship.
“Our main goal this year is to win a playoff game and go as far as we can in the playoffs,” Frigon said. “Last year, we just played an off game.”
The Eagles only loss this season came to Ventura in a nonleague matchup, and Frigon said it was good for the team to learn how to overcome adversity in game situations and fight back to win.
Templeton assistant coach Alex Kotheimer graduated last year, and played with Frigon for two of Frigon’s three years on varsity.
“He has matured so much — his arm strength, his hitting, his leadership,” Kotheimer said. “Whenever we’re down, it seems like he gets on first, steals second and we end up scoring. Like they say, speed never slumps.”