The Hitting Zone - BestLightNovel.com
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Chapter 987 V3 Ch221 @ Servite HS (2)
Kyle finished his practice pitches and the bottom of the first started. The leadoff swung early, connecting on the first pitch. It was a routine grounder to Noah for the first out.
"One out!" Noah hollered. Other guys on the team echoed.
The ball was given back to Kyle on the mound. Kyle reset himself for the second batter. He led off with a fastball inside for a called strike. Then outside for a swing and miss. 0-2. Kyle threw high and outside, getting the batter to reach out, still swinging and missing. Strikeout.
Kyle and Mitch.e.l.l worked around the zone some more for the third batter, getting to a 2-2 count before getting him to swing and miss on an inside ball. Second strikeout.
Three up, three down. Everyone jogged back to the dugout with some energy.
"Did you find his stats from last year?" Garret asked Alisha, drawing some attention from around the dugout.
Alisha nodded. "Split time between the two lower levels." She handed over a piece of paper. "I wrote down the stats for you for each level."
"Don't get hung up on who he was last year." Coach spoke up. "I won't stop you guys from being curious. Especially since you'll be able to research your opponents at the higher levels. But don't let it get to you. We're facing who he is today and we already got two hits. Let's add a couple more." He clapped his hands.
Jason and Korrey left the dugout, ready to lead off the second inning. Mitch.e.l.l was working to get his gear off.
"Well?" Noah peered around Garret's shoulder to try to look at the paper. He let out a low whistle. "d.a.m.n. How do they keep finding these guys? I'm gonna have to see this dude for two more years too."
I got closer to peek too. My jaw dropped. Cody Peace didn't give up a run at the freshmen level. His WHIP was well under one meaning he didn't give up a whole lot of walks or hits. And the strikeouts almost averaged two an inning. At the JV level his numbers s.h.i.+fted a little more. An ERA of 2.08, WHIP was 1.12, yet the strikeouts to innings still stayed high. Probably thanks to that curveball.
"Servite has a good pitching coach." Bryce commented after taking a look too.
"I think I remember that from last season." Noah nodded slowly. He looked at me, slightly concerned.
I had an impression of the pitching coach too. We had talked about him before with the scout, Willie. He was good and could go on to higher levels, but was trying to stay local since his daughter was still in grade school. I had heard this during a hard time in my life with the confusion of where my dad was with my brother. It made me sick.
"I'm fine." I a.s.sured Noah, knowing what he was worried about.
Cody got Jason to hit a light grounder down the first baseline. The first baseman scooped it up and tagged the bag before Jason was even close. Korrey attacked a fastball, hitting the ball harder than of us before him, but the line drive was caught by the right fielder for the second out. Mitch.e.l.l had it worse, striking out to end our side. Three up, three down for them too.
Mitch.e.l.l being the last out meant that Kyle just threw lightly with one of the guys from the dugout while he waited for Mitch.e.l.l to suit up. Kyle only took two real practice pitches before the umpire called for 'b.a.l.l.s in.'
The cleanup hitter dug into the lefty's box. He was a big guy. And the first baseman. He got a good piece of Kyle's first pitch, hitting a line drive to my right. Before I could even look, Noah was mid-dive, s.n.a.t.c.hing the ball out of the air and landing down in the dirt.
"You'll get him next time."
Jason helped Noah up as I jogged over. Noah shooed us away and gave the ball back to Kyle. "One out!"
Kyle took a small walk off the mound, cleaning his cleat and using the rosin bag before getting set again. I smiled as he took his time. I knew he was doing it to give Noah an extra minute to catch his breath.
Kyle had more of a fight with the fifth batter, throwing all kinds of fastb.a.l.l.s all over the place besides down the middle. On a full count the batter connected on a high fastball, hitting a flare out of my reach. Bryce came in to field the ball back in, keeping the batter to a single.
I felt a little guilty even though I know things like that happened. I just felt underwhelming after Noah made such a spectacular stop. Kyle wasn't even looking my way or kicking the dirt in anger. He just reset himself to prepare for the next batter. He did a check throw, but the runner was safe. He got the ball back and had to do his short motion now with someone on. Though the runner was a big guy so I couldn't see that he could even try to steal a base.
The sixth batter got to a 1-2 count before pulling the ball. Another grounder within Noah's reach. I sprinted to second just in time to receive his throw. I transitioned the ball from glove to my right hand and got the throw off to Sean at first. The big guy peeled off, brus.h.i.+ng by me as the umpires announced both outs.
Noah was beside me in a second, glaring at the guy's back. "He's just trying to intimidate you. But if he gets that close again, don't be afraid to put out your elbow for protection."
I made a face at him. "No thanks. I'll just do better at getting out of the way. I did stay on the base too long."
Noah sighed. "We should work more on flipping double plays. Different throwing angles and all that."
We jogged back to the dugout and prepared for our at bats. Noah was third up, after Kyle and Bryce, so he was definitely going to see some action. I was fifth down the line after all them and Garret. So a bit of a stretch to get to me. But not impossible.
Kyle striking out to start the third inning wasn't unexpected but it still was a bit of a downer. One less chance of me coming up. Bryce tried swinging early in the at bat to avoid the curve that he struck out on. He hit the ball awkwardly with the small part of his bat, hitting a dribbler to the pitcher. The pitcher fielded it cleanly for the second out.
Noah moved to the batter's box. Garret went out to the on deck circle. And I stood in the hole, near Coach.
"He likes throwing inside." Coach was saying to Alisha specifically while she took notes. "And when the batter is cornered, he'll throw the curve to finish them off. I imagine we'll be seeing this kid next time the way he's taking care of business."
Noah got jammed on an inside pitch again, looking very similar to his previous at bat and to Bryce's. I shook my head as the pitcher fielded the ball for the third time this game so far.
"Any ideas?" Coach saw me shake my head.
I shrugged. "Open up their stance more?" That's what I would do. "Or foul it off until I see something better."
Coach laughed. "Alright. I'll see what they can do. Next inning, Garret and you will have a chance. I'll talk to Sean and Jason."