It takes a special kind of talent for a freshman to play a significant role in a D2 baseball team’s success. It’s even more impressive when that freshman is helping a team’s starting rotation or bullpen.
We're here to highlight five of the best freshmen pitchers in D2 baseball and call upon you, the readers, to vote on who is the best of the best. Voting for this poll closes at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday. Be sure to get your vote in on time, and share with friends so they can vote as well!
Erskine pitcher Alex Calvert (Courtesy of Shawn Knox/Erskine Athletics)
Alex Calvert, BR-57 Erskine
RHP, La Plata, Md.
Alex Calvert has been a big part of a rotation that has put the Flying Fleet at the top of the Conference Carolinas standings. Calvert has overcome some growing pains, including a 4 ⅓ inning outing against BR-158 King where he allowed eight earned runs, winning his four of his last five starts to improve his record to 7-1 on the season. He leads Conference Carolinas with 87 strikeouts in 74 ⅓ innings while throwing a league best four complete games on the year. His complete game shutout vs. BR-59 Mount Olive on March 26, where he scattered five hits and struck out eight, earned Calvert the Conference Carolinas Pitcher of the Week award on March 29.
UC-San Diego Pitcher Kyle Mora (Photo Credit: UC-San Diego Athletics)
Kyle Mora, BR-60 California-San Diego
RHP, San Jose, Calif.
Kyle Mora is making a fairly seamless transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation for the Tritons, who find themselves in the thick of the California Collegiate Athletic Association South Division race. Mora, whose last three appearances for the Tritons have been as a starter, boasts a 3-0 record and three saves with a 2.61 ERA (seventh best in the CCAA) in 15 appearances on the season. Mora ranks 13th in the nation with a 5.66 hits/nine innings ratio and is third in the league with a 1.02 WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched), while opponents are hitting just .179 off the righty rookie.
Northeastern State pitcher Zach Parish (Photo credit: Northeastern State Athletics)
Zach Parish, BR-122 Northeastern State
LHP, Tahlequah, Okla.
After prepping at Tahlequah Sequoyah High School, Parish now throws Northeastern State, located 15 minutes north on U.S. 62 in the same town. Parish is making his impact felt, leading the MIAA with 75 strikeouts in 61 ⅓ innings pitched and an 11.01 strikeouts per nine innings, while sporting a 5-2 record with a 3.96 ERA. In his first conference start, Parish struck out 13 while scattering seven hits and allowing just two runs over eight innings in a 9-2 at BR-128 Northwest Missouri on Feb. 28, earning him MIAA Co-Pitcher of the Week honors.
Henderson State pitcher Blake Patterson (Photo Credit: Henderson State Athletics)
Blake Patterson, BR-131 Henderson State
RHP, Benton, Ark.
With Henderson State fighting for a top-four seed and home field advantage in the opening round of the Great American Conference tourney, Blake Patterson is developing into a key piece of the Reddies’ bullpen. In 19 appearances (second most in the GAC), Patterson has compiled a 3-3 record with two saves and a 2.40 ERA. Patterson also has the third best strikeouts per nine innings ratio in the league (10.02), is fourth in strikeouts-to-walk ratio (3.83) and has the ninth lowest WHIP (1.21) in the GAC. Patterson is one of three freshmen pitchers, along with starter Zach Eschberger (12 starts, 66 IP, 7-4, 4.64 ERA, 46 K, 20 BB) and starter/long-reliever Kris Priddy (14 appearances, 4 starts, 37 1/3 IP, 3-0, 2.89 ERA, 27 K, 13 BB) who could be a force to reckon with in the GAC over the next four years.
Le Moyne pitcher Sam Walsh (Courtesy of Greg Wall/Lemoyne Athletics)
Sam Walsh, BR-150 Le Moyne
RHP, Syracuse, N.Y.
It didn’t take Sam Walsh long to make his presence felt in the Northeast-10 Conference. With a 4-1 record and a 2.43 ERA (ninth in the NE-10) in seven starts, Walsh has recorded 27 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings, allowing just 7.3 hits per nine innings, 10th best in the NE-10. Walsh has twice been named NE-10 Rookie of the Week, earning the honor on Feb. 22 after striking out three in 5 ⅔ innings in his collegiate debut, a 4-1 win over BR-259 Virginia State on Feb. 19, then earning the honor again on March 28 after allowing just one run and three hits in a seven inning complete game win at BR-162 Adelphi on March 26.