There are times when Joey Roy will let a fat fastball sail past him for a strike, his eyes tracking the pitch as it hits the catcher's mitt.
Beyer High's senior shortstop isn't only interested in the type of pitch but where it will end up -- inside or outside, high or low.
If he can see four or five pitches in his first at-bat, Roy figures he has the advantage next time.
"I've been batting leadoff since I was 9 years old, and taking a lot of pitches comes with that job," said Roy, a two-year varsity player and the Patriots' shortstop.
"The goal is to make the pitcher throw everything he's got during my first at-bat," said Roy, who's batting .425 with a .595 on-base percentage. "That's not only going to help me the next time I hit, but everyone else in the lineup, too."
It's paying off for the Patriots (18-7, 12-1 MMC), No. 3 in The Bee's large-school poll and leading the Modesto Metro Conference going into this week's two-game set with second-place Davis (19-5, 10-3). They're batting .345, averaging eight runs a game and feature three of the conference's top hitters -- Blake Barber (.486), Mason Ankeney (.443) and Roy.
"I like to think the sacrifices I make at the plate are making us a better team," said Roy, who's among Beyer's all-time leaders in walks, doubles and runs. "It's frustrating sometimes to take a pitch you know you can smack, but it pays off late in the game."
Roy's ability to influence the game extends to the bases, Beyer coach Steve Clark noted: "Any time Joey is on first base, it's almost like it's a double, because he's usually headed to second."
That's why Roy's 26 walks are as important as his 31 hits. He's stolen 27 bases -- setting the single-season school record in Friday's 9-1 win over Downey -- and has been caught just once.
It takes Roy two steps to reach top speed, Clark said, and he can maintain that into second base.
"For the most part, he's got the green light," said Clark, whose team has been successful on 94 percent of its attempts (50 of 53). "When Joey is over there at first base, it forces the pitcher to focus on him as well as the batter."
If Roy continues to play in college, he'll likely return to a familiar spot -- second base. He began as a second baseman before one youth coach converted him into a shortstop as a 10-year-old.
"I'm not a big guy, and you've got have a big arm to throw out batters from the hole in college," said the 5-foot-5-inch, 160-pounder. "I make the switch back to second pretty easily."
Giving up his current position will mean giving up some responsibility as well. As a shortstop, he helps position the third baseman and outfielders -- based on how the hitter will be pitched to.
"One of the things I love about short is you're in control of the game," Roy said. "You're responsible for so much ... the throw to second, relays from the outfield, positioning defenders. It forces you to stay on top of your game."