Hounds lefty Brasher out to prove 2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2006

was no fluke



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Big game after big game Trey Brasher was handed the ball as the No. 1 starter for the Huntington Hounds as they went through the playoffs all the way to the state championship series.

And each time he handled it well. As the team&8217;s top starter. As an eighth-grader.

That wasn&8217;t the worst of it. Not only did the left-hander with excellent control take the mound, but he never seemed to lose his cool when things got bad. Bad breaks happened behind him, and in other games the Hounds got off to a slow start at the plate.

The eighth-grader, however, kept his cool.

But get one thing straight &8212; now a freshman, he&8217;s not the Hounds&8217; No. 1 guy, and he does get a case of the jitters every now and then.

&8220;I don&8217;t think of myself as a No. 1 &8212; I&8217;m just a ninth-grader, and I just throw,&8221; Brasher said. &8220;You always have jitters. If you don&8217;t have jitters, you need to stop and do something else. It&8217;s TCB &8212; take care of business. That&8217;s what my dad

tells me all the time be

fore I go out there. Just

get them out, get a ground

ball and throw strikes.&8221;

It was his poise in key situations last season that may have impressed everyone the most last season. From the time he pitched his first game early in the season to the Game 2 win over Tunica Institute in the championship series, Brasher had a mound presence about him that many juniors and seniors don&8217;t possess.

Brasher may get the start Tuesday when the Hounds host Franklin Academy to open District 7-A play.

&8220;Don&8217;t ask me &8212; I don&8217;t know,&8221;

said his dad, James Brasher. &8220;He&8217;s always been able to handle pressure. He didn&8217;t get it from me. Last year in several of the playoff games it seemed like he worked better if he had the bases loaded.

&8220;Last year I think it was like, &8216;Let me have the ball, coach, let me take care of what you want me to do, my guys will back me and we&8217;ll win the game.&8217; He doesn&8217;t like to be bragged on. He&8217;s sort of bashful when it comes to that.&8221;

The left-hander finished the season with an 11-2 mark, a 1.10 ERA and 103 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 83 innings. It&8217;s not that he burned people with the fastball last season, but he located his pitches so well and stayed ahead in the count.

In the South State series last season against Glenbrook, he bailed himself out of a bases-loaded, no-outs jam with three consecutive strikeouts. He won Game 3 of that series out with 5 2/3 innings relief with the Hounds trailing when he entered the game.

&8220;He&8217;s got a good mentality about himself,&8221; Huntington head coach Mitch Ashmore said. &8220;He&8217;s able to throw strikes no matter what the situation is. He&8217;s able to go back and stay where he needs to be. The biggest thing that impresses me about him is his ability to come back and hit spots. It&8217;s a very difficult thing for a high school senior.&8221;

It&8217;s not his fastball that&8217;s his signature pitch, but it may sometimes look faster than it actually is thanks to a curveball that quickly became his out pitch last season. This spring he&8217;s thrown some in nearly each game, and he and Ashmore are beginning to work on a changeup to add to his arsenal.

There&8217;s also a plan to use him more out of the pen this season as a closer since the Hounds right now are looking for that solid No. 2 starter role that Jacob Bonnette held last year.

&8220;Coach says throw that pitch at any time,&8221; Brasher said of the curveball. &8220;He says throw it when the batter doesn&8217;t think it&8217;s coming. We&8217;ve thrown it 3-1, 2-0, stuff like that. I really hit my spots with (the fastball), but you have a lot of off days. I&8217;ve been working on my changeup, but I don&8217;t know how much I&8217;ll throw that in a game yet.&8221;

That may be a ways off, Ashmore said. The veteran coach isn&8217;t putting much emphasis on the changeup since the fastball isn&8217;t up there yet, but that may come with time, too. The coach is quick to tell you he&8217;s taking it slowly with Brasher, including holding him out in Game 3 of that Tunica series last year.

Brasher is, after all, only a freshman.

&8220;I think this year his curveball is a little better, and I think he has a better understanding of location and what we&8217;re trying to do,&8221; Ashmore said. &8220;I think he realizes he&8217;s got to locate balls because he&8217;s so young and be a pitcher instead of a thrower. I also believe as a ninth-grader you don&8217;t get too worried about velocity and things like that.&8221;

How good Brasher can get in the next four years, Ashmore noted, remains to be seen. He&8217;s very good for his age, he reminded, and a left-hander who can hit his spots so well right now leaves the potential to be so much better at it in the future.

Brasher been on a tight pitch count so far but may get it loosened up if he goes Tuesday.

&8220;I&8217;m sure we&8217;ll see him Tuesday,&8221; Franklin head coach Ryan Ellington said. &8220;As a lefty, if you&8217;re throwing in the mid-80s, you&8217;re going to be looked at. I think he&8217;ll get there if he continues to spot the ball and work hard.&8221;

The latter will always be there, as long as he remains at Huntington. Ashmore has taken Brasher &8212; maybe the only lefty he&8217;s had coaching &8212; under his wing since he first took the mound at the Franklin Academy tournament last season.

&8220;I think he and Mitch have a real good mutual respect for each other,&8221; James Brasher said. &8220;He respects Mitch, and Mitch respects him. Mitch has told me some things that opened my eyes to different stuff. I told him, &8216;He&8217;s not going anywhere else, and we&8217;ll ride the ups and downs with you.&8217;&8221;