By Gary Lloyd
Area pitchers are dealing.
They’re throwing smoke at Hewitt-Trussville, finessing at Clay-Chalkville, tossing complete games at Pinson Valley.
First-year Hewitt-Trussville head coach Jeff Mauldin said he’s never had a pitching staff as deep as the one he has this season, a staff that could feature eight future college pitchers. Mauldin said his toughest task with pitching is keeping all the throwers “engaged,” since the amount of capable pitchers — Grayson Jones, Bill Brown, Alec Talley, Matt Gatewood, Kane Morrow, Will Pharis, Blake Bailey and Michael Busby — is greater than the number of games played each week.
Hewitt-Trussville will start starters and bring them out of the bullpen for situational pitching, because they never know their roles come playoff time, when it’s win or go home. Gaining experience in every facet of pitching is important.
“Starting pitching is the key,” Mauldin said.
Two Clay-Chalkville hurlers — sophomore Matthew Calvert and senior Jordan Rutter — have thrown five-inning no-hitters this season. At press time, Calvert had a 6-0 record. Head coach Brandon Johnson said outside of Calvert, the team has been “piecing things together” by throwing Rutter, junior Hayden Moore and senior Hunter Duke. Others pitch, too. In a recent 10-0 loss to Oxford, Joe McGuire fanned six Clay-Chalkville batters in five innings. He walked none, something Cougars pitchers have struggled with at times this season.
“I told our guys I think we can get better just by watching him pitch,” Johnson said.
Mauldin said Hewitt-Trussville is seeing a lot of teams’ ace pitchers, too, including No
. 1 pitchers from Homewood, Vestavia Hills, Pell City, Tuscaloosa County, Clay-Chalkville and Pinson Valley.
Pinson Valley is getting quality outings lately from Auburn signee Bailey Chesser, seniors Brad Eckmyre and Colby Wingard, and junior Zac Ray. The latter three have all thrown complete games this season.
Clay-Chalkville travels to Pinson Valley Thursday for a 7 p.m. game, where solid pitching will be on display.
“I think pitching wise, everyone has that one guy,” Johnson said.
The No. 7 Huskies will continue to see quality arms down the stretch in April, highlighted by three important Class 6A, Area 12 matchups with Gardendale on April 2 and April 5.
“That can only help you, to see that kind (of pitching) because that’s what you’re going to see when you see Gardendale, that’s what you’re going to see in the playoffs every round,” Mauldin said.
Phil Gibson contributed to this story.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.