COUNTDOWN TO FIRST PITCH: BREAKING DOWN THE WKU PITCHING STAFF
Pitching has long been a focus for WKU head coach Matt Myers. In his five years at WKU, the Hilltopper staff has seen the team ERA drop dramatically, including three-straight years of having a team ERA under 5.00 after having a team ERA of 6.11 in 2007 – the season before Myers arrived. WKU’s Taylor Haydel led the Sun Belt Conference with a 2.35 ERA in 2012, marking the second-straight year that a WKU pitcher has led the Sun Belt in ERA.
In 2012 the Hilltoppers sported a 4.81 team ERA despite not having the services of left-handed ace Tanner Perkins for the majority of the year. With the possible return of Perkins in 2013, along with a plethora of new talent on the mound, Myers thinks his 2013 staff could be something special.
“This is the deepest pitching staff that we have had on paper since I have been here,” Myers said during the offseason. “We have been an offensive-first program and with the old bats it made sense. We took guys like Matt Ridings, [Matt] Hightower, Bart Carter, Shane Cameron, Evan Teague, Rye Davis and those guys who were really competitive and gave us a chance. So now you are looking at plenty of arms that are quality arms and add competition and add depth. Last year we had the draft and injury to Tanner [Perkins], and all of sudden we are down to nine arms. It is very difficult to go through a 56-game schedule without that depth and quality. I think this year we have that.”
What has Myers so intrigued by the 2013 pitching staff? Well consider the fact that WKU returns over 90 percent of its innings pitched from last year, losing Ross Hammonds to graduation from the 2012 squad. WKU also expects to welcome back the services of left-handed ace Tanner Perkins in 2013, who was lost for the season after only four starts last year. Myers and his staff also welcomes in 14 newcomers in 2013, seven of which could see time on the mound. Here’s a closer look at the 2013 pitching breakdown.
LHP Tim Bado – Bado returns after leading the Hilltopper staff in innings pitched (85.2), strikeouts (76) and tied for the team lead with four wins.
LHP Austin Clay – Clay returns for his sophomore campaign after tying for the team lead with four wins in 2012, while leading all WKU starters with only 19 walks allowed in 74.0 innings of work.
RHP Tate Glasscock – Glasscock proved to be a steady component to the Hilltopper bullpen in his redshirt-freshman campaign in 2012, posting a 3.38 ERA in 25 appearances, which ranked second among Hilltopper relievers.
RHP Taylor Haydel – Haydel was the shut-down reliever for WKU in 2012, setting career-highs in virtually every pitching category. The junior posted a Sun Belt Conference-best 2.35 ERA, while ranking 12th nationally in strikeout-to-walk ratio, punching out 74 batters, while only walking 12 in 65.0 innings.
RHP Justin Hageman – Hageman was dynamic for WKU out of the bullpen in 2012, not allowing a run in 12.0 innings of relief work. After earning Freshman of the Year honors in the Sun Belt in 2011, Hageman won four games in 2012, while also hitting .250 at the plate for WKU.
RHP Brennan Pearson – Another freshman contributor in 2012, Pearson appeared in 18 games in 2012, going 3-2 in 37.1 innings of work in his first year at WKU.
LHP Tanner Perkins – Perkins suffered a season-ending injury in 2012 after just four starts. The ace of the pitching staff was coming off a 2011 season in which he posted a Sun Belt-best 2.32 ERA. Perkins is expected to make a return in 2013.
LHP Ian Tompkins – The Louisville, Ky., native split time as a starter and as a reliever in 2012 as a true freshman, going 4-3, which included a win over 18th-ranked Louisville at Bowling Green Ballpark, allowing only one run as the starter.
RHP Josh Bartley – Bartley was honored as an all-state performer after posting an ERA of under 2.00 in his final season at South Warren High School in Bowling Green.
RHP Andrew Edwards – Edwards was rated as a top 150 junior college prospect out of Rend Lake Community College after sporting an ERA of 1.94 in 69.1 innings in 2012.
RHP Trevor Lowe – Lowe was named to the Perfect Game USA Central Region Honorable Mention Team prior to the 2012 season at Warren Central High School in Bowling Green.
RHP Alex Mercer – Mercer was named all-region and all-district during his time at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky., leading the team to the second round of the KHSAA state baseball tournament.
LHP Anderson Miller – Miller went 5-1 with a 1.71 ERA at Lafayette High School in Lexington, Ky., earning all-state and all-district honors.
RHP Jackson Sowell – Sowell went 8-1 with a 1.15 ERA with Bowling Green High School in 2012, earning all-district honors in both 2011 and 2012.
RHP Jake Thompson – Thompson went 18-3 in two years as a starter at Iowa Western Community College, leading the team to the Junior College World Series in both years with the team.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRST PITCH: CONTENT CALENDAR
Wednesday, January 30: Breaking Down the Pitching Rotation
Friday, February 1: Welcoming the New Talent
Monday, February 4: The 2013 Offensive Approach
Wednesday, February 6: Getting Defensive
Friday, February 8: Seniors Leading the Charge in 2013
Monday, February 11 – Friday, February 15: Game Week