FRUITPORT – While Fruitport senior second basemen Brady French may be quiet at times, his bat has been anything but for the Trojans.

French, in his third year of varsity baseball, is heading into postseason play this week with a very impressive .481 battling average while totaling nine doubles and 18 RBIs.

His offensive success has been vital for the Trojans, who have great pitching but have sometimes come up short in the run-scoring department.

Take a quick look at the stats following most Fruitport victories over the past two seasons, and French almost always shows up with two or three hits and a few RBIs.

Fruitport’s Brady French

Last year, as a junior, he doubled and stole home in the ninth inning to give the Trojans a 10-9 season-opening win over Montague. In districts, he singled home the winning run in a 6-5 victory over Oakridge.

There have been a lot of similar moments this season, including his three-hit, two-RBI performance in a victory over Hudsonville Unity Christian, which was Fruitport’s seventh win in a row at the time.

“He’s been hitting really well,” said Trojan head coach Ncik Reed about French. “He put in a ton of work during the offseason. He’s really had a phenomenal year.”

French takes pride in his success at the plate. Despite his smaller size – 5’9, 165 pounds – he has demonstrated good power and an ability to go gap-to-gap.

“I think for my size, I have a surprising amount of power,” French said. “I’ve got good bat speed and quick hands. I can hit line-to-line but at the same time, I can hit a ball to the gap and get a double or triple out of it. It’s really kind of a key factor in my swing that has helped me.”

French rips into a pitch. 

Despite not being a big talker, French takes also pride in being a leader for the Trojans, who only have seven seniors and a lof of talented juniors, sophomores and freshmen.

The team does not have captains, but French was chosen to serve on the Trojans’ leadership council.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I feel like we have a lot of guys who could handle leadership roles on this team. For Coach Reed to have that much confidence in me is an honor for sure.”

Reed says French fits nicely into a leadership role, with his on-field performance and his persona.

French slides safely across home plate.

“He’s an easy-going guy,” Reed said. “But the guys know if he speaks up, it’s important. He’s the guy who will throw in a one-liner and get the team to lighten up with a laugh. They know if he’s talking or saying something, however, they should probably listen.”

Baseball has been French’s sport since he was very young, and he believes the game has taught him valuable life lessons.

“Baseball has gotten me through tough times mentally,” he said. “It really has prepared me for life and the ups and downs. It can humble you really quick. It teaches you to not ride the highs or the lows because some days you’ll go 4-for-4 and other days you’ll go 0-for-4.”

While French is happy with his performance this season, which includes a very strong .954 fielding percentage, he wishes he could have helped the Trojans win more games. Fruitport finished the regular season 16-13 overall and 8-13 in O-K Blue conference play.

French slides back into first base.

The seven-game winning streak was the high point of the season so far, but the Trojans have had their ups and downs, with a significant number of frustrating one-run losses.

“Personally, I can’t really complain,” French said.  “I’ve come through when needed and I reached 100 career hits last week, which is a cool milestone. The team’s record is where I’d rather the success be, but we’re a good team playing tough teams. I’m proud of how we battle.”

French is hopeful that the Trojans can take cap off their efforts with a Division 2 district championship this week.

It will begin on Tuesday when Fruitport hosts Coopersville in a crucial district play-in game. The winner will advance to Saturday’s district tournament at Oakridge High School while the loser will be done for the season.

“It would be cool to win it,” French said. “I know this team has the talent to do it. We have some good teams in the district that are all solid. But it’s really just about going 1-0 in every game.”

Reed knows a district title would be the perfect way for French and the other six seniors to go out.

“It would be huge,” the coach said. “It would mean the world to them. They’ve put in a lot of work the last three or four years to get help get us to where we’re at.”eddie