Sports Zone, Springfield

Thurston baseball armed for playoff run, years of success

SPRINGFIELD – It was a slower-than-expected start to the season for the Thurston Colts baseball team. The Colts started 1-3 in part because of a brutal non-league schedule and a trip to Arizona for one of the nation’s premiere high school tournaments. After an 8-0 win over Westview last week Thurston is 12-3 and has won 11 games in a row. That win streak started in Arizona, and it’s largely been because of Thurston’s young pitchers – freshman Grady Saunders and sophomore Connor Molony.

“I thought we pitched up really well today, and we pitched well yesterday as well. You know, pitching is kind of proving to be our strong point,” said Thurston coach Dennis Minium after the Westview game. “Our pitching has been outstanding this year for sure.”

Saunders had 9 Ks and allowed only 3 hits in the Westview game. For the season he has 39 Ks, and Molony has 36 Ks in 6 starts. For Minium, it’s a blessing to have two prolific pitchers who are underclassmen. 

“For the future it’s great, right? I mean, we’re gonna have Connor for two more years, plus the rest of this year, and Grady for three years plus the rest of this year. I don’t think we’ve ever had this deep of a pitching group that I can remember,” Minium said. “It’s pretty nice to be able to go out there, knowing that if our pitchers are on then we’re only giving up a few runs. And then you only got to score three or four runs to win a baseball game.”

That’s not to say Thurston’s hitting is to be taken for granted; the offense has stepped up during the winstreak. After a 10-1 loss against Queen Creek (AZ) in Thurston’s first game in Arizona, the team had a meeting in the hotel to discuss the slow start to the season. Before the meeting, Thurston averaged 4 runs a game and 4.75 runs allowed a game. Since that meeting, all during this 11-game win streak, Thurston has averaged 8.1 runs a game and 1.9 runs allowed a game.

“We dropped a couple games early in the season that, honestly, I feel like we probably shouldn’t have dropped. Then we got our butts handed to us by a team in Arizona that had played 25 games already,” Minium said. “But then we had a nice little talk in the hotel, and next thing you know, we’re starting to win baseball games, and we’ve been on a roll ever since.”

Balance will be a key moving forward, Minium said, ensuring the young pitchers’ reps and improvement with a set schedule, while not overworking their arms. On the offensive side, Minium noted that situational hitting and running still needs work. The Colts have time to improve all of that, with postseason goals on the horizon.

“It’s nice being on an 11-game winning streak. But ultimately, we have bigger goals,” Minium said. “I think overall we’re just going to go out every day at practice and continue doing what we’re doing and work on the things that we need to work on.”



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