Big Rapids sophomore pitcher reflects on stellar season

Keaton Ballard is ready to assume the title of No. 1 pitcher next season. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Big Rapids’ baseball season didn’t quite end the way the Cardinals had hoped in a 1-0 loss in late May to Cedar Springs in the predistrict.

But as coach Sam Daugherty and the Cardinals look ahead, they see plenty of positive signs for the future.

One of them will be the return for the next two seasons of sophomore Keaton Ballard who emerged as the team’s No. 1 pitcher, and was the losing hurler in the predistrict loss.

Ballard allowed three hits and had four strikeouts.

“It was a great high school baseball game,” Daugherty said after the predistrict loss.

“As usual in district play, pitching and defense is the order of the day. We probably played overall our best defense of the day. We had great pitching from Keaton Ballard. We struggled to get on base against their No 1.”

“I think I’m pretty close to my expectations,” Ballard said late in the season. “You can always get better. (The biggest adjustment to varsity) is how much better the players are compared to JV.”

Ballard said his two-seam, fastball is his best pitch.

“I need to work on my curveball, for sure,” Ballard said

Another memorable game, he recalled, was a win over Newaygo.

“We had a couple of errors in the first game and got down 4-0,” he said. “Everyone rallied behind me and we came back and won 9-4.”

Ballard played first base if he wasn’t pitching.

His hitting continually improved. Timing was critical behind good hitting, he added.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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