NEW CASTLE —
It’s a strategy known in baseball as “giving him the business.”
The expression refers to a team heckling, frustrating and joking with the opponent, usually a specific player.
Shenango High’s Brent McCormick was given the business — by his own team. But, in this case, it was more of a compliment than anything else.
“They’ve been riding him all day,” Wildcats coach Mike Othites said with a laugh.
That’s what happens to sophomores who are having success. The team tries to help them keep everything in perspective — and bring their ego down a notch.
Still, it’s hard to rattle McCormick. He was 2 for 4 with two RBIs on that day, and he was even better last week.
The first-year starter is one of the team’s leading hitters, batting .471, second-best on the team. He’s also been clutch on the mound. Last week against rival Ellwood City Lincoln, which entered the game tied for first place in the section, McCormick threw the final 21/3 innings, not allowing a hit and striking out three to earn the save in a 5-3 win.
He also went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. He followed that showing by going 4 for 4 with two RBIs against Beaver Falls.
The performance earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
Part of the reason McCormick was able to shrug off the jokes he received for being named athlete of the week was because he’s a baseball veteran, even as a sophomore, and he’s probably heard it all before. He said he started playing around 6 years old in tee-ball and hasn’t stopped since. He plays in the summer for the Ohio Glaciers, one of the top teams in the region, and trains year-round for the sport he learned growing up from his father and grandfather.
It’s part of the reason he entered the season with high expectations for himself.
“I knew that I was going to be a big part of the team and I needed to step up,” he said. “I think I have been so far.”
That’s for sure.
Aside from his .471 average, he leads the team in doubles with seven, is second in hits (24) and third in RBIs (12) as the clean-up hitter. He’s also one of the team’s top pitchers. He’s only thrown 121/3 innings because he’s come on in relief in all six appearances, but he owns a 3.97 earned run average and is one of the hardest throwers on the team.
Othites said he’s been impressed with McCormick on both levels. He said he expected the youthful third baseman to excel right away because he’s seen him play in the summer and on the JV team last year, but even he’s been surprised with the results.
“As a sophomore in our league, do you expect him to hit the way he’s hitting? Obviously not,” he said. “I was hoping he’d be in the .300s or near .400, but he’s exceeded that. He’s a competitor, he’s a gamer. When the chips are down, he wants to be up, so I’m pleased to see that.”
One area in particular that has caught Othites’ attention is McCormick’s plate discipline. Not only does he have a good eye, he’s able to stay back on off-speed pitches and drive them to the opposite field, a rare trait from an underclassmen, he said.
“He has a short, compact-type swing, but he can get his bat head through quickly,” Othites said. “He has good command of the strike zone — he doesn’t swing at too many bad pitches, which is something that I think is a key.”
Keeping it simple has been vital for McCormick, he said.
He credited some of his success to his experience in competitive tournaments with the Glaciers, and he also said Othites and assistant coach Brad Zeigler aided him in becoming accustomed to the higher level of pitching he’s faced as a member of the varsity.
“After about the first four games, I was good from there,” McCormick said. “That’s when I started getting hot. Coach Zeigler was talking to me and he said, ‘Just pick out the fastballs. Look for the best pitch and swing at it. Don’t try and be too picky with it.’ ”
Luckily for McCormick, fastballs aren’t the only pitches he hits well. Going the other way with off-speed pitches, such as curveballs and change-ups, definitely is nothing new to him.
“That’s been something I’ve always been good at,” he said. “Just staying back and taking it to the opposite field.”
As for the bickering by his teammates?
Hey, he was 2 for 4. Maybe they should keep it up.
THE BRENT McCORMICK FILE
POSITION: Third base/pitcher
KNOWN FOR: McCormick is just coming onto the scene this year as a sophomore. He’s second on the Wildcats in hitting (.471) and leads the team doubles (7). He’s also their top relief pitcher, sporting a 3.97 ERA, and is “a cornerstone” to the team’s future, according to coach Mike Othites.
PARENTS: Michelle and John McCormick.
FAVORITE PRO ATHLETE AND WHY: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians. “I’ve always liked how he makes nice plays in the field and how fast he plays.”
FAVORITE PRO TEAM AND WHY: Cleveland Indians. “My dad likes them, and I’ve always liked them because he did.”
FUTURE PLANS: McCormick said he wants to study physical therapy after high school and continue his baseball career.
NEW CASTLE —
It’s a strategy known in baseball as “giving him the business.”
Video: Remembering teacher Beth Pears
Shenango High students, teachers and adminstrators pay tribute to Beth Pears, who died on May 19 after a battle with cancer. The English teacher was a beloved figure in the classrooms of Shenango, and Courtney Crown shares her story through a series of video interviews.
Photo Gallery: Check out our images from the Shenango High prom!
The pomp. The pageantry. The pairs. The pictures. Yes, it’s prom season once again in Lawrence County and the New Castle News is on hand to document all the fun and excitement. We hope you enjoy our photo galleries! Today, Shenango High.
WPIAL Softball Playoffs: Shenango loses to Frazier
Normally, players like to forget losses.Shenango High softball coach Amy Delaney hopes yesterday’s 9-2 setback to Frazier in a WPIAL Class A softball quarterfinal at Fairhaven Park remains fresh in the team’s mind during the offseason, though.
Shenango board not raising taxes
The Shenango Area School Board has introduced a $15.8 million budget that requires no tax increase. The $15,819,792 spending plan for the 2013-14 school year is $43,012 higher than the current budget.
Shenango hires three teachers
The Shenango Area School Board hired three elementary teachers for the 2013-14 school year. They are:
Athlete of the Week: Meet Kim Burdett of Shenango
Sitting in math class. Eating lunch with friends. Brushing her teeth. No matter what Kim Burdett finds herself doing, there’s a good chance there’s one thing first and foremost on her mind — softball.
Shenango class to hold luncheon
Shenango High School’s class of 1962 will meet for lunch Thursday. The group will gather at 1 p.m. at Chuck Tanner’s Restaurant.
Shenango schools update weapons policy
The Shenango School District has updated a policy involving possession of weapons on school grounds. The change will permit the school security guard to carry, store and have access to weapons while performing his duties, according to district superintendent Dr. Mike Schreck.
Shenango schedules make-up registration
Shenango has scheduled a make-up day for kindergarten registration for the 2013-14 school year. The make-up day will be May 3 for students who will be 5 years old by Sept. 1.
Shenango education foundation to meet
The Shenango Community Education Foundation board will meet Wednesday at Shenango High School’s library. The 7 p.m. meeting is open to the public and members of the community who are interested in supporting the efforts of the foundation are encouraged to attend.
- More Shenango Headlines
- Video: Remembering teacher Beth Pears