High expectations rested on the shoulders of Jared Gonzalez entering his sophomore season at Huntingdon College.
Not that it’s a surprise. It comes with the territory of being the rookie pitcher of the year in the USA South Athletic Conference a year earlier.
“Coach kept preaching in practice that last season was over and I still had to earn my spot in the rotation,” Gonzalez said. “I wasn’t going to be put on a pedestal just because of what I did last year.”
Gonzalez, a former standout at Navarre, put in the work to be ready for the season and it paid off as he finished the regular season with a .500 record and 3.81 ERA. He ranks third on the team in wins (five) and strikeouts (49). As a freshman, he went 7-2 with a 4.98 ERA and 42 strikeouts.
“I feel pretty good about what I have done this year,” Gonzalez said. “There were a couple of days where I felt like I didn’t have the control I did last year, but my velocity has gotten better and my slider has become more of an out pitch.”
Gonzalez has won three of his last five starts and said one of the keys to that late-season success was linked to the strength of his arm.
“I took the summer off so my arm was in good shape. Even toward the end of the year my arm still felt good,” Gonzalez said. “I could throw well over 100 pitches and my arm was fine.”
And that is important during the grind of a college baseball season. The work he put in to get stronger physically and tougher mentally has paid off.
But his season isn’t done yet. The Hawks won the conference tournament championship, their first since 2012 when they were members of the Great South Athletic Conference. With the crown comes an automatic NCAA tournament berth.
Read more in the May 5 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.