High School Baseball

Easterly, Cougars enjoying dominant start to season

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 3/10/20

A 10-strikeout, one-run outing would be considered a great night by just about any standard for any pitcher.

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High School Baseball

Easterly, Cougars enjoying dominant start to season

Posted

A 10-strikeout, one-run outing would be considered a great night by just about any standard for any pitcher.

But those numbers highlighted what was an otherwise subpar evening, by his considerable standard, for Cinco Ranch senior ace Reid Easterly.

The left-hander and Yale signee also surrendered five walks and three hits in his six innings of work in the Cougars’ 8-1 win over Clear Lake on March 10. Easterly had issues with his command early; still, he overcame in demonstrative fashion when adversity struck.

Easterly surrendered all three of his hits, four walks and the earned run in the first three innings. Over his final three innings, however, he struck out eight, did not give up a hit, and allowed just one baserunner.

“I was really working on my release point, trying to get consistent on where I was releasing the ball,” Easterly said. “Consistency is big for me. I know if I can be consistent, I can come out every start and put my best foot forward and not have a game where I’m not sharp, like I was (against Clear Lake).”

If his last three outings are any indication, Easterly is close to reaching top form.

Easterly was part of a combined no-hitter with senior starter Logan Henderson in a 7-0 win over Aldine MacArthur on March 3. Easterly threw an inning of relief work, striking out three. Two days later, he no-hit Lamar Consolidated in an electric six-inning, 17-strikeout masterpiece.

“He was fantastic,” coach Brett Wallace said.

On Tuesday, Easterly had a rough start, but finished in his typical fashion, retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced. Overall, in his last 13 innings of work, Easterly has registered 30 strikeouts.

“I feel like I’ve gotten into a good rhythm the last couple of games,” Easterly said. “(Against Clear Lake), I struggled early. They got a few nice hits and I walked some guys. I knew I just had to throw strikes and get in a zone.”

His coach is impressed.

“His first outing against Cy-Woods, he was a bit wild,” Wallace said. “He had six walks, but four came in the first inning and he figured it out. In that first outing, he was flying open with his front side (when a pitcher over-rotates and puts a lot of stress on the elbow and shoulder), and he knew it. He told us.

“The same thing happened this game. He was flying open, his arm was lagging and he was missing high. When he messes up, he knows how to fix it. He can work through it and get back into a groove at any point.”

Easterly worked tirelessly in the offseason on adding velocity. His fastball now tops off at 89 miles per hour. During the season, he has been adamant about being consistent in his motion.

“He’s been great,” Wallace said. “He’s throwing a lot of strikes and he’s really competing. He’s a smart kid. He gets a lot of swing-and-misses, which is really helpful.”

Easterly, though, is just one significant piece in what has been an impressive start by Cinco Ranch, which is 11-1-1 and outscoring opponents by an average of 5.9 runs per game so far this season.

The Cougars have 10 players signed to play college ball and can win games with pitching, hitting or defense.

Easterly is the headliner of a dynamic and deep pitching staff that includes Henderson and sophomore Blake Hansen. Each member of that trio already has a no-hitter this season.

Cinco Ranch has the bats as well. Senior leadoff hitter Jake Linderman is batting close to .500 and contributed a nice two-run triple against Clear Lake that helped break open the game. Hansen, senior Ethan Box and junior Tyler Duron have all “been absolutely killing the ball,” Wallace said.

It’s a deep lineup that works counts and has already surpassed its extra-base total from last season.

“We’ve got a good amount of talent here and it’s really all coming together,” Linderman said. “We’re hitting the ball and getting those extra-base hits that we weren’t getting last year. We got two no-hitters last week. It’s all there for us.”

The key the rest of the way? Keep it going.

“Keep that momentum,” Wallace said. “As long as our pitcher can go out there and throw strikes, we’re going to be a tough team to beat. With our bats, we can give up a few more runs and still have the confidence to overcome it. The pitching has been on point. The sticks have really come through. We have great defense. We’re really molding into a complete team right now.”

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