During fall workouts pitching has received its share of attention. Bisons’ pitching coach Tyler Shrout and head coach Jeff Forehand are looking for three weekend starters.
Two returning pitchers who will get long looks are Davey Hackett, one of the three weekend series starters last season, and Mike Grace, who made the transition to NCAA Division I last season.
Grace was 1-3 overall in 19 appearances, four as a starter. He posted a 6.43 earned run average and struck out 39 batters in 51.2 innings.
He led the Bisons’ pitching staff in A-Sun Conference games with a 4.55 ERA. All four of his starts were against A-Sun teams. He was 0-2 with 20 strikeouts in 29.2 innings.
Hackett posted a 6.01 ERA and a 3-5 record. He made 16 appearances, 14 as a starter. In 79.1 innings he struck out 56 batters.
“We are looking for both of them to do what they did last year and take another step,” Shrout said.
Richie Goodenow, who transferred from Vanderbilt, has attracted much of the interest this fall. Goodenow is in the mix for one of the weekend starting roles after spending most of his college career in a relief role. Goodenow can also play first base and might get some time at the designated hitter role.
“Richie is going to be in a more challenging role for him,” Shrout said. “He is going to compete for a starting role. He is excited about that challenge. He will hopefully be an addition on the weekend.
“His mentality is what I have been more impressed with than anything. Guys have been looking at him because he leads by example. He still has to earn everything.”
Goodenow made one start for Vanderbilt, beating Louisville 7-0 in a two-hitter in the NCAA Regional. His other 30 appearances last season were in relief.
“He pitched extremely well against Louisville,” Shrout said. “That has shown him what he could possibly do.
“He pitched from a wind-up for the first time in college. He saw batters three or four times. He had to trust a third pitch instead of going fastball and breaking ball in a relief role.”
Goodenow, a left-hander, has thrown in the 82-86 miles per hour range this fall. Shrout thinks he will be a little faster in the spring.
“His velocity is where it needs to be for the fall,” Shrout said. “He has more movement on his fastball and he has pretty special breaking ball.
“He understands his identity as a pitcher. That is why he is so good.”
The fact that Goodenow is a left-hander is expected to make the staff better.
Grace was consistent coming out of the bullpen, which persuaded the coaching staff to move him to the third starter spot.
“We needed a consistent third starter,” Shrout said. “He gave us a chance to win.”
Grace had a lower earned run average in the conference than Josh Smith, the No.1 starter for the Bisons who was drafted last summer by the Cincinnati Reds.
“Grace made a commitment last year to get in shape to be a starter,” Shrout said. “If he is our fourth or fifth starter we are going to be in pretty good shape. If he is a mid-week starter and relief guy on the weekend we will be pretty good on the staff.”
Hackett spent most of the fall on the sidelines with an injury, but he is expected to be ready for the spring.
“Davey has taken it nice and slow this fall,” Shrout said. “He pitched the most innings he has ever pitched so we shut him down this fall.
“We had to pull him back. He saw how competitive everything has been. I like his stuff. I think he is going to be more consistent. He has to give him a chance to win every time he goes out there.”
Writtten by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.
Read anoher installment on the pitching possibilities in a future story.