When looking down a baseball lineup, the most threatening hitters are usually found in the third or fourth spots.
But in recent weeks, one of the best hitters for the Penn State baseball team has been a little bit farther down in the order.
Routinely hitting eighth in the lineup, freshman catcher JC Coban has quickly emerged as an offensive threat as well as a defensive stopper.
Since settling into the starting role, Coban's ability to make a wide range of moves at the plate has given the Nittany Lions a boost toward the end of the order.
"He's just a spark," senior Sean Deegan said. "He'll go up there and first pitch, he'll be swinging for the fences and maybe crush one. And if he gets down 0-2, he just shortens up and puts the ball in play."
As the season has progressed, the catcher's numbers have steadily increased, and Coban has hit for both average and power.
A three-hit game on Wednesday night against Kent State lifted Coban's batting average to .301 to accompany his three home runs this season.
Coban has shown the ability to hit for power in clutch situations, as well. Coban drove in the only two runs with a home run during Steve Hill's no-hitter last Saturday to spark the Lions' offense.
Since going 0-4 in a Friday night game against Michigan two weeks ago, Coban's bat has caught fire. The catcher has hit safely in six of his last seven starts, including five multi-hit games. When he steps to the plate, Coban doesn't try to do too much.
"Just go up there swinging," the catcher said. "You can't think too much, it's a simple game."
As one of a handful of freshmen to see significant playing time this season, Coban's production has rivaled that of the upperclassmen.
When Coban started seeing his name in the lineup consistently, he said he couldn't let his age or any inexperience hold him back.
"Once you're in the lineup, age doesn't really matter," Coban said. "You're in the lineup, you do your job. Age is pretty much irrelevant."
Along with his production at the plate, Coban has also provided Penn State with solid defense behind the plate. One of Coban's strongest attributes is his arm, and he routinely makes pick-off attempts around the diamond.
Coban has also helped handle the pitching staff from behind the plate, and Jordan Steranka said the freshman has done a great job assuming the role.
"He's the one player this year I think that stepped up that no one thought was going to step up," Steranka said. "As a freshman, he's done a great job behind the plate calling the game for the pitchers."
While his strong defense was an expected asset, Coban's offense has turned a few heads in the Penn State locker room.
"Offensively, too, he's done an unbelievable job," Steranka said. "He's hit a few home runs...He's really stepped up, big time."
With the added benefit of Coban hitting near the bottom of the lineup, Penn State has been able to consistently turn the lineup over and get the heart of the order to the plate.
Deegan said Coban's versatility at the plate gives the team a big advantage in terms of offensive depth.
"He just going to battle. That's huge," Deegan said. "If you can keep the lineup turning over, that's big and he's done a great job."