With one of the league’s more potent offenses the Tippecanoe Red Devils are used to delivering big hits … not taking them.
The two-time defending district champions — tabbed as state title contenders with all nine starters back — were dealt a devastating blow when last season’s ace, Carter Langdon, suffered an elbow injury.
The Red Devils, as the rest of the Central Buckeye Conference has found out, are still strong arming the competition. Tipp’s starting trio of senior and Toledo recruit Steven Calhoun, junior Ben Hughes and sophomore Cole Quillen have stepped up to throw the opposition for a loss. Seventeen of them, to be precise.
“Pitching keeps you in the game,” Tipp coach Bruce Cahill said. “Even if you have a bad offensive game you still have a chance to win.”
The Red Devils (17-4) lead the league in nearly every pitching category, including wins (17), saves (7), shutouts (8), strikeouts (182) and earned-run average (1.35).
“Ben’s been perfect all year. Steven’s the same way. He’s really come into his own. Cole is a raw sophomore who throws hard and has all the pitches. It’s great,” Cahill said of his pitching depth.
Hughes (5-0, 0.40), Calhoun (4-3, 0.56) and Quillen (4-1, 1.54) are key reasons why the Red Devils are closing in on the CBC Kenton Division title. Junior Cameron Johnson has also pitched well, but Cahill prefers to save his arm to anchor the infield at shortstop.
“We (tell our offense) if you get us four runs we’ll do the rest,” said Hughes, who leads the team with a .500 average (32 for 64). “That’s our mindset anyway.”
It’s worked. Tipp is 16-1 when scoring four runs or more. Of their four losses, all have been by two runs or less.
Though he pitched 13 innings last season, Quillen didn’t expect his role to greatly expand this season. That changed with Langdon’s injury.
“He usually talks to me before every game. He calms me down because I’m nervous,” Quillen said. “I just want to pitch well.
“I was so nervous the first game. I want to get (to state), too. I know they want it really bad. … This is the best team I’ve ever played on and I feel like we can do it.”
Just like those long balls Langdon continues to wallop — he leads the CBC with five homers — the Red Devils are also looking to go the distance. No Tipp team has reached the state tournament. Despite getting tripped up in the regional semis the past two seasons, Calhoun thinks that experience could be enough to get them to Columbus this time.
“I think we can go as far as we can hit,” said Calhoun, an intimidating presence on the mound at 6-foot-7. “(Coach Cahill) said the sky is the limit. We needed to have the determination to go that far.”
Record Strikeouts Innings pitched ERA
- Ben Hughes 5-0 59 35.1 0.40
- Steven Calhoun 4-3 60 37.1 0.56
- Cole Quillen 4-1 35 27.1 1.54