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Deep pitching staff playing big part in reversing Cogs' fortunes

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:02 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014 9:14 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Brady Huffman takes part in a pickoff drill during practice Wednesday at Genoa-Kingston High School. Fellow sophomores Tommy Hansen (second from left) and Andrew Caldwell can be seen on either side of Huffman. The Cogs' pitching staff has been a big part of the team's resurgence.

A metallic clash is all Brady Huffman hears at every workout.

The No. 1 pitcher on Genoa-Kingston pitching staff didn’t even turn his head to see the pitch he threw didn’t yield the desired result. The sound told the story, and will continue to do so for the talented sophomore.

“I carry that sound with me everywhere I go,” Huffman said. “It’s all I think about at every workout. It drives me. It makes me work on all that I can to get better.”

Huffman had the opportunity he wanted, a chance to compete against Sycamore. The Spartans boast a lineup that has them considered to be Class 3A state tournament contenders, and until Nathan Haacker launched a two-run home run over the right-field fence April 7, Huffman gave the Cogs a chance to win.

With Huffman, who leads a talented trio of G-K sophomore pitchers that includes Andrew Caldwell and Tommy Hansen, the Cogs have a pitching staff with the potential and desire to turn them into consistant winners.   

G-K (6-7) has already surpassed its win total from last year’s 5-20 season.

“There was no doubt I wanted to pitch against Sycamore,” said Huffman, who has a fastball that tops out in the mid-80s. “It is the best team on our schedule, I wanted a test against the best and the chance to beat them. I gave up two homers against Sycamore, but I have to keep my head up and be mentally tough. We are a group of young, live arms. We have a  lot of confidence in our ability.”

Mix in senior Will Crozier and the Cogs’ staff is determined to reverse the fortunes of a program that has struggled to post a winning season. Coach Anson Ellis has an abundance of arms fit for the compacted schedule of a season shortened by inclement weather.

“I am confident in all four pitchers right now,” Ellis said. “They all really go right at hitters. They want to beat hitters with their fastball and won’t let up on a 2-1 count just to get a pitch over. All have gotten physically and mentally stronger in the offseason and it shows with the results they’ve been able to post this year.”

Even though G-K has already surpassed its win total from last season, a goal set during the winter, Caldwell plans to continue improving. He wants to be able to throw all of his pitches in any situation and in any count.

Because he has what Ellis said are the “smoothest mechanics” of a player he’s ever coached, Caldwell can keep hitters guessing as he conserves the energy needed to go deep into games with a predictable, repeatable delivery.

“I’ve been honing my mechanics for three years,” Caldwell said. “I’ve worked with a variety of coaches that all have professional playing or coaching experience and take them very seriously. Without mechanics you’ve got nothing.”

What the Cogs have is a trio that could lead to a renaissance in their baseball program.

“We have a  lot of depth in our staff,” Caldwell said. “All our starters throw hard and locate. We’ve got better command as our off-speed pitches have improved since our freshman season. We have one more win than last year, but the pitching staff wants more and is willing to work for it.”

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