|3/21/2013 12:11:00 AM|
TRIPLE THREAT: AHS pitchers power through opponents
|By ANDREW MACKE|
Heading into this baseball season, Abbeville High School coach Mark Smith had a big question mark on the pitching mound. The Panthers' top five pitchers from last season's district champions all graduated, leaving Smith with virtually no one with any varsity experience.
A trio of arms quickly answered that question.
Behind the pitching of senior Blake Schultz, juniors Travis New and Stephen Hedden, with some help from senior catcher Skyler Elliott, Abbeville won its first eight games and has stormed out to a 9-2 record.
"We knew coming into the season that we can battle. We're scrappy," Schultz said. "If we can get them to hit it on the ground or a pop fly, we're normally going to get an out. Going into the season, we were pretty confident, and as long as we can locate our pitches and scrap, we're good to go."
Abbeville's new staff has not wasted any time proving itself. In the first game of the year, New threw a no-hitter to beat Crescent in his first varsity start. His record now stands at 2-1.
"It was pretty exciting," New said. "I didn't really know it until the last inning or so. That gave me a lot of confidence going into the my next game."
Schultz and Hedden have not tossed no-hitters this season, but both are unbeaten. Schultz is 3-0 while Hedden, who does most his work in relief, is 4-0.
Much of the trio's success revolves around control. All three pitchers have executed what Smith calls the most important pitch, the first one. The trio typically work from an 0-1 count, which allows them to attack the strike zone in a variety of ways.
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