'Pitch by pitch,' Muskrats off to perfect start with no-hitters, strong chemistry
Coming off of last year’s historic, regional-championship season, the Algonac High School baseball team seems to be picking up right where it left off.
The Muskrats currently stand 9-0 behind the arm of Josh Kasner, who has now recorded back-to-back no-hitters.
Against Armada last Wednesday the junior struck out 15 of the 22 batters he faced en route to a 2-0 victory. And yesterday, against No. 14 Richmond, he struck out nine of 19, helping his team to a 10-0 victory over last season’s BWAC champion.
“I dont really think about it that much, it’s still early in the season,” Kasner said. “It’s cool to win these games, but in the end it doesn’t really matter that much. It’s the end of the season that really matters.”
Since the start of the season, Kasner has pitched 22 innings, faced 73 batters, and recorded 41 strikeouts, all while allowing just one hit.
And behind the plate of each standout performance is Evan Saddler, a fellow junior who’s just happy to be back in the game after a shoulder injury kept him in the dugout last season.
“It means a lot [to be back],” Saddler said. “Coming off of a good freshman year when Josh and I made it up [to varsity], just being back on the ball field together really means a lot.”
The two have been player together since they were young, they said, which has built their chemistry over the years.
“I think a lot of it is just our chemistry of playing together for so long and getting to know each other,” Saddler said. “I think it’s more of mental game for both of us, we try to stay calm in the moment and we take it pitch by pitch. When we do that, we seem to dial in together and once we get in the groove, we can’t get out of it.”
“I think it’s a big mental thing. Throwing the hitters off balance, especially after their first at-bat when they come up their second time, I show them different pitches or even mess with their heads a little bit,” Kasner added. “Like if Evan calls fastballs even though he knows I don’t want to pitch that, I shake it off and leave the batter wondering what I’m going to throw.
“I trust him, and in between innings if there’s something that I don’t want or I’m not liking, I’ll talk to him about it, but it’s been pretty good so far.”
The Muskrats are currently ranked No. 1 in Division 3 by the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association. Along with last year’s success, Saddler credits the promising season to come to the team’s strong start and chemistry.
“I think we just have better team chemistry early on this year compared to last year. Last year it kind of took a little while to bond and get that chemistry going, but I think we have it really early this year,” he said. “Last year, we ended well, but we kind of started off a little rough so want to get off on the right foot this year by winning some baseball games.”
And with 74 runs scored while giving up less than 10 on a so-far perfect season, it’s safe to say the Muskrats have found their footing.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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