One thing pitchers are asked to do all the time is “hit their spots.”
Picking your spot can be important as well, something Air Academy HS senior pitcher Grant Shandy displayed Sunday during showcase action in Greeley at the UNC Fall Classic, presented by Pathway Baseball and Triple Crown Sports.
As his Slammers-Ackerfeldt team took on the Rocky Mountain Oysters at University High School, Shandy struck out the first eight batters he faced, a timely effort with more than a dozen college coaches paying close attention. In his four innings of work, Shandy allowed just one walk and one hit batter, mixing his locations expertly.
“The end of my summer was a little rough, so I was happy to get out here again and pitch well. I’m trying play somewhere for college, so I feel this event helps me get that recognition,” Shandy said. “There’s some anxiety at first, but as you do it more it gets easier. This morning, I felt relaxed … I’m happy where I am. Spring was good, had some trouble with my mechanics but cleaned that up in the last month or so. Came out today and felt the best I have all summer and fall.”
“We’ve played in this event the last three years; we love the facilities, and obviously for the kids, the (colleges) being here, you get in front of a lot of schools,” said Slammers head coach Duane Ackerfeldt, whose own son has played in the tournament. “That was a pretty typical effort by Grant, as he’s always around the zone. He mixed in a slider, a breaking ball in fastball situations. He is definitely a pitcher, not a thrower, our best pitcher for sure.
“We talked a lot about playing unselfish baseball, where you give up an at-bat to score a run or move a runner. I think if a college scout is watching a guy hit with a runner on second and no outs, and he hits the ball to the right side, that’s better than a base hit in my opinion. I think the college guys understand that.”
With nearly 60 teams circulating around Northern Colorado for the event, the UNC Fall Classic was a natural platform for talented athletes from the region, with players from Arizona and Nebraska also joining the pool of Colorado players.
“This is a great event with great weather, and we had the biggest NC Fall Classic to date with 57 teams,” said event director and Pathway Baseball director Gino Grasso. “A lot of top level players took the field in front of 25-plus college coaches. We are excited to continue building and refining this event to make it the top fall event in Colorado and the region.”
Although the Oysters didn’t get much done in the Slammers matchup, they did score twice in the fifth inning. And of course, there were multiple games over the weekend for the Oysters to stretch out and show their skills.
“A lot of our kids are from the Western Slope, and sometimes they fly under the radar. That’s why we come to this event every year, because we want our guys to be seen by the 20 or so college coaches,” said Oysters head coach Joe Lefebre. “We’ve played some good teams; it’s a fun event. Baseball is a game you have to play to get better, and that’s why we have a fall program, to get that extra work.”
Pathway Baseball has one more event on the fall slate of events, running Sept. 20-23 in Peoria, AZ.