Duncan pitcher changes his delivery
Jeremy Horgan's willingness to do whatever he's asked is sure to arm him with the necessary tools to advance in baseball.
Entering his fourth year at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Duncan pitcher is looking for big things from the team and himself this season.
"This season we're really hoping we can win state,'' said Horgan, who turned 17 on July 26.
"We're keeping seven pitchers and seven position players. We just have a really strong class — all-around for athletes, not just baseball.''
With a new coaching staff coming in last season under the direction of Brian Fischer, Horgan was asked to make a substantial change to his mechanics. After consulting with his pitching staff, Fischer felt adapting a submarine style of delivery might suit Horgan best.
"I don't know why I said it,'' said Fischer. "I said 'Let's just see what happens.' He picked it up and we just kind of ran with it.
"I think he bought into it because he knows he's going to pitch all the time.''
Horgan comes in for short-term relief, often in consecutive games, and his role is usually to get a couple of batters out and then turn the ball over to someone else.
"I kind of catch on fast to things I'm shown,'' said Horgan.
"We were scared to do it at first. It was kind of late in the game to make this drastic a change.''
Horgan conceded the delivery does look odd and never fails to capture the attention of the other team.
"Whenever I go to warm up, teams like to laugh and make fun of it,'' he said.
"We hear that everytime he goes out there,'' said Fischer. "The big thing, too, is the players have accepted him.''
Horgan doesn't go for the big strikeout, but makes opposing hitters put the ball in play.
"I've got my infield behind me,'' he said. "They're kind of laughing. They've seen it work numerous times. It's good to have for two outs.''
Mother Rosemary Horgan, who has lived in Arizona during Jeremy's years at the school, credits Fischer for bringing respectability to the Saints.
"Our new coach has done wonders with the program,'' she said.
"It definitely worked out for the best,'' said Jeremy.
He started baseball in Duncan at four years old and went to Notre Dame beginning in Grade 9 after attending camps in Arizona. He won an overall pitching award in one camp out of 65 kids.
Right off the bat, so to speak, the other students at Notre Dame started calling Horgan "Canada'', logical since he was the only Canadian in the school.
Last season was particularly interesting for the baseball team, Horgan said, when the media basically gave the team no chance of making it to the playoffs but ended up finishing second. Losing 10 games in a row at one point had everyone on the Saints wondering.
"All of a sudden, we had this really strong game against a school that's a division ahead of us,'' said Horgan. "After that, we went on a 10-game win streak.''
Basically, baseball goes on all the time in Arizona, with the main season running from March to May.
Horgan is frequently in the gym at 5:30 a.m. as part of a long day that includes classes and baseball into the early evening. A yoga program has even been added as an extra for the baseball players.
The Saints play in AIA Div. 2 with a school of about 900 kids compared to others in the division that have a couple of thousand.
The Saints could technically qualify for Div. 4, but have managed to compete at the higher level.
"We could move down a division and beat everybody 20-0,'' said Horgan. "Playing up is definitely a lot more fun.''
A big thrill for him came during April when the Saints played their last home game of the spring season at Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks.
Horgan has already been looking into different institutions for next year after he's completed high school.
"I want to be able to have a good school with the program I'm looking for — the size and the full deal,'' he said.
"If baseball doesn't end up working out in my second year, I want to know I'm happy there. I really want to play baseball. But I want to be realistic about it. It might not happen.''
Fischer has become one of Horgan's biggest boosters and thinks he has great potential.
"He's a player's coach, he's a leader,'' said Fischer, who formerly coached in Seattle. "If he goes to a school that's high in academics, that's only going to help him.''