It’s not quite as flashy as Babe Ruth pointing to the bleachers to call his shot, but just before every softball game she plays, Rene Pierre quietly picks a landmark in the outfield to swing toward when she steps to the plate.
“I always make a goal for every game -- how far I am going to hit -- and I always try to reach it,” said the Burke senior pitcher/third baseman. “If I’m not focused, I’m going to hit a ground ball. If I make a target, I’m going to focus on hitting that target.”
And Pierre often hits her mark. Through the first five games of the season, she was leading the Boston City League in hitting with a .941 batting average. She was 16 for 17.
When Pierre hit her target Wednesday afternoon at Kirby Field in South Boston — a tree just beyond the concrete path outlining the outfield — South Boston coach Mary Linehan couldn’t believe her eyes.
“She hit it past that tree -- I’ve never seen that,” said Linehan, who has been coaching at South Boston some 26 years, after her team lost to Burke, 21-5, in five innings. “Back in the day, but not within, I’ll say, the last 10 years. She clocks everything.
“That’s unbelievable. When I played as a kid, I got a trophy for the highest batting average. It was like .600. She’s hitting over .900. That’s unbelievable. They’ve got a nice team.”
Pierre was 4 for 4 on Wednesday, with two home runs, a triple, and four RBIs.
“I’ve been watching her for four years, working out, playing games, summer camps,” said Burke boys basketball coach Samuel Jordan, who began filling in for softball coach JoAnne Lee-Nieves when she took time off to deal with a family medical issue three games ago.
“Softball is her life. So it’s showing now. She’s made a lot of improvements in four years. She’s a great athlete. And she’s a good leader."
The team prays for Lee-Nieves’s family before each game now and shouts her name in the team huddle after each game.
“We’re doing all of this for our coach, nobody else,” Pierre said.
The most amazing part of Pierre’s hitting this season is that she only picked up the sport four years ago. She credits her success to playing RBI summer softball with a travel team called the Astros.
“I practice hard," she said. "I really take softball seriously."
Burke (7-1) has not lost since its opening game, an impressive feat for a school that has not seen much athletic success in recent years. The baseball team broke a 22-game losing streak Wednesday by beating Fenway High.
Pierre said students and teachers are taking notice of the team.
“They are like, ‘Great game ladies, great game, you’re the best team in the school for now,’ ” she said. “It makes us feel better. All the other teams are like ‘We need to get up where the girls are at,’ like the baseball team.”
That first loss of the season was 18-5 to O’Bryant. The teams don’t meet again in the regular season but could play in the city tournament.
“We’re going to beat them, I have hope,” Pierre said. “It was our first game. We had a lot of new girls and a lot of errors, so I think now that we have our team down pat we’re going to go in and go in strong. We’re not the best team but we’re getting there.”
Pierre hopes her hot hitting continues down the home stretch but she won’t get discouraged if it doesn’t.
“If I miss a ball, I’m like ‘OK, that’s all right, I’ll get the next one,’ ” she said. “I know I’ll get the next one.”
The numbers bear that out.
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.