Brett Ash leads WU pitching

From the ashes Junior pitcher Brett Ash has compiled a 4-4 record this season with an ERA of 3.32. Last season, Ash had a 3.99 ERA with a 7-5 record.

Michael Vander Linden / Washburn Review

“Some people refer to us as the quarterback of the baseball field,” said junior Brett Ash. “It’s our job to keep everyone locked in the game and get the defense off the field as quick as possible.”

The job he is referring to is that of the pitcher. This player is the one that begins every play of the game with the throwing of the ball. With plentiful pitches per game, these young athletes always have to be mentally and physically prepared to do their job.

Ash likes to show up to the field in his own rhythm. Music, a big part of a lot of athlete’s focuses, helps Ash lock in to the mindset he needs before the game.

After stretching and running, the pitchers start by throwing back and forth. When comfortable, the two involved will begin to move farther and farther back. This process is called long toss, where throwers will play catch from nearly 300 feet.

When ready, they move back in and head to the bullpen. This is the area where pitchers can use mounds and home plates to mimic game situations. Pitchers focus on different situations they might face throughout the game and work on hitting their spots.

“We use a really long, extensive warm up so our entire body is ready to play,” said Ash. “We have to play at peak performance every time we step onto the field.”

Senior Kerry Schachenmeyer agrees.  He notices that when he pitches, he uses his entire body to get the ball to the plate. His legs push off of the mound to build momentum, his core bends to help adjust with location, and his arm whips through to control velocity. These put together puts together a successful pitch that will be difficult for batters to hit.

And a pitcher must be at his best, even when late in the game. Schachenmeyer always dreads  the bottom of the ninth during a tie game. If the bases get loaded, the pressure always seems twice as heavy, and it all rests on the pitcher.

However, the ability to push through these types of situations is what makes these athletes stronger competitors.

“When I’m in the game, I don’t even think about how I’m doing at the moment,” said Schachenmeyer. “It’s always something I focus on afterwards to see how successful of a day it was.”

This is probably a smart strategy, as pitchers have an extensive recovery between appearances on the mound. This recovery includes ice, stretching, and huge amounts of running. The running is scientifically linked to flushing out lactic acid that builds in the arm as an athlete throws.

“The recovery is all about keeping the arm lose and on track to recovery,” said Ash. “We have to focus on the buildup of our arms, not just the burn out.”

After a day of pitching, the feeling of pain is nothing unnatural to pitchers. Normally, guys take 4-5 days before they are back to throwing in bullpens again.

“It’s all about preparing our bodies to get through the entire season in best condition possible,” said Ash. “If the pitchers can’t do their job, then the rest of the team is really going to struggle.”