Ben Heath leads the Penn State baseball team in hits, runs and RBI after one weekend of play, but his work behind the plate has been just as important.
Heath, along with teammate Bobby Jacobs, helped guide the Nittany Lions' young pitching staff through 35 innings of baseball during three extra-inning games.
Penn State coach Robbie Wine said it's especially important for the two catchers to become familiar with this season's youthful rotation and show control on the field for the Lions (2-1).
"I thought they both did great, along with the entire team," Wine said. "In competition, there are a lot of things that go on when the two veteran guys can [know how to] settle pitchers down."
When Heath wasn't working with the Lion pitchers, he was hurting the opposition's hurlers.
Prior to this season, Heath had three career home runs in 114 at bats. He matched that total during the three games -- hitting three homers to go along with two doubles in 18 at-bats. Heath also scored six runs while hitting .333.
The Huntersville, N.C., native said the increased power is something he focused on since the end of last season.
Two of Heath's homers came in the Lions' third game against Notre Dame, when he was the designated hitter. Wine said catching 25 innings in two games began to slow Heath's hitting, so Jacobs got the start behind the plate in the Lions' game against the Fighting Irish.
Jacobs, also a junior, said it's crucial to have two reliable players to rotate at catcher because of the demand put on catchers during games.
Jacobs showed good control of the bat despite going only 1-for-3 during the three games. Against Notre Dame, he went 0-for-1 but had a sacrifice fly to go along with two successful sacrifice bunts.
Jacobs said he has confidence to play whenever his name is called. Though he stumbled into being a catcher when he was younger, Jacobs said he enjoys working with the pitchers and being a leader on the diamond.
Wine believes it's that kind of leadership both catchers bring to the game. He said both learned from previous catchers and have made an effort to improve the positives and negatives from previous seasons. So far, Wine said their experience has already paid off in the first three games.
Heath's familiarity with the game won't let him dwell on his early success. He knows there are many more games to play but hopes to build on his hot start at the plate.
"It's a good start, but that's what it is -- a start," Heath said. "It's a long season. The most important thing is just winning games and doing what we can to win games."