When Jack Payton got off to a relatively slow start at the plate, Br. Rice Coach Sean McBride wasn’t worried.

He knew Payton would come around, and the junior didn’t take long to do it.

With the Crusaders hosting St. Ignatius on April 1, Payton went 2 for 3 and knocked in 3 runs as Br. Rice beat the Wolfpack 5-3 in a Chicago Catholic League crossover.

“Jack’s a player. He’s played so much baseball and understands the game so well, you let him be himself,” McBride said. “He was pressing a little bit, but he’s swinging it better. Jack’s going to get a ton of RBI opportunities with the guys hitting in front of him.”

In his second full season on the varsity, Payton is a do-it-all threat for the Crusaders; he’s able to catch, play first or handle outfield duties.

At the dish in the bottom of the first, the junior ripped a 2-run single through the left side of the infield to bring home Kendall Pettis and Benji Brokemond.

He added another RBI single in the third to plate Brokemond.

“I’m feeling good, feeling confident,” Payton said. “It’s making it easier with a lot of guys in the order helping me. It’s going to be hard to get all of us out.”

Payton hit in the four spot against St. Ignatius with Mike Bolton (Purdue), Pettis (Oklahoma) and Brokemond (Miami University) batting in front of him.

Payton knows he’ll get his chances to knock in runs with the trio of speed demons getting on base in front of him.

“It’s obviously nice to have. They’re some of the fastest kids in Illinois,” Payton said. “It’s great having them hit right in front of me. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Alex Roche (RBI, 2 hits), Danny Doligale (run), Marquis Jackson (2 hits, run), Pettis (2 hits) and Mike Hopkins (2 hits) contributed to the balanced attack from the entire Br. Rice lineup.