By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Ever since last Spring when he was in Texas, Sprague’s Grant Strother has been building to this moment.
Through Summer ball with the Withnell Dodgers American Legion squad, through Fall Ball and going through this season has led the Olympian junior to an interesting result going into the second round of the 6A season.
He was named Pitcher of the Year in the Mountain Valley Conference, and subsequently was named first-team for pitching, as well as being named to the second-team All-MVC for catcher. Strother points to this past Summer as the vocal point that helped spark him down this route as Sprague prepars for West Linn on Wednesday night.
“This past Summer I feel like I started to figure some things out. I started to really locate on all three, four of my pitches,” “Then I was able to roll that into the Fall season, in Fall I didn’t give up a run so that was big going into the Spring with that confidence on the bump.
“A lot of pitching is about having confidence within yourself and confidence in your defense. So having that good Summer and Fall really rolled into the Spring. Having a great defense behind me, it’s awesome.”
Sometimes it goes in play, sometimes he gets a strikeout. But mainly having that trust in his defense has helped Strother’s confidence as Sprague currently sits 22-6 on the year. Regardless if Strother is pounding the zone or behind the dish catching.
“It’s huge. Just knowing that when they put the ball in play, your defense is there to make plays. It’s huge,” Strother said. “It’s great. Just knowing when you pound the zone and keep it low, good things are going to happen. Sometimes if they elevate it, we have a great outfield. Especially with TB (Taylor Brenneman), it’s a no-fly zone out there with them. It’s huge just knowing you don’t need to strike everyone out. It’s not me on the bump, it’s all nine of us.”
Strother says the battery, pitching and catching, go hand-and-hand. They both help each other out. It’s a mindset almost of being able to think ahead of what may throw a hitter off balance.
“Being a catcher also helps me…I have confidence in what I throw. Sometimes you get a call from the dugout and it’s not something I want to go with. I shake it off and I have full confidence with myself that I know what pitch to throw. I think a big part of that is catching all the other games,” Strother starts. “Just seeing hitters and what’s going to get them off-balance and keep them off-balanced. They definitely help.”
It also helps him relate with pitchers when he catches as well to describe strategy as he has to do the same when he’s pitching. Being a leader to refocus his pitcher and up the morale when he needs to do so. They’re huge. They do go hand-and-hand points Strother.
For Strother moving forward, he’s looking ahead for hopes for a deep run with his Sprague teammates. And once this run ends, whenever it is, the bulk of them with Strother will head to Scio to play with the Withnell Dodgers once more. The Dodgers finished sixth in the American Legion Triple-A State in 2021. But for now, it’s onto the Lions on Wednesday at 5pm in West Linn.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald