ST. GEORGE — The Snow Canyon Warriors haven’t done much losing on the baseball field this season. They’re doing even less when stud senior southpaw Carston Herman is on the mound. Fortunately for head coach Reed Secrist, he wants to be on the mound as often as possible.
Secrist wanted to rest Herman mid-March in a tournament at Snow Canyon the weekend before regional play began. The Warriors ace was having none of it, pestering Secrist and his coaching staff with text messages pleading his case over the week leading into the games in question. When the Saturday doubleheader rolled around, lo and behold, the athletic glasses, eye black and left-handed glove were on the mound. Herman racked up five strikeouts and held the Stansbury Stallions to just two hits in three innings in a Snow Canyon win. Proving the rest wasn’t needed, he struck out 10 Reds just three days later as Snow Canyon routed Cedar in his seasonal region debut.
Fast forward 3.5 weeks and Herman has cemented himself as likely the Region’s top pitcher. The Warriors have won all four regional games he’s started. He’s allowed just one earned run in 21 innings in those games. He’s also struck out 44 hitters.
With stats like those, it may seem like Herman is pitching on a different planet. In his own head, that’s exactly what’s happening when he asks for the ball every game.
“It’s like a new planet for me,” Herman told St. George News. “I’m in my own world and I’m all by myself, so I like it. I enjoy it a lot. Whenever there’s a good game, I’d rather be out there myself just because it’s a challenge for me.”
The Warriors have run over much of their competition this season. They’ve lost only one regional game, an 8-5 come-from-behind victory for Desert Hills on April 6. But Herman didn’t pitch that day. He started game two of the series and struck out 17 hitters, leaving only four additional outs for his fielders to get. The jaw-dropping performance was needed, as Snow Canyon scrapped by with a 2-0 victory.
It showed that Herman could be the guy in those do or die games, which could be pivotal for a Snow Canyon team with the grandest of expectations this season. At 7-1, the Warriors are tied with Pine View for first place in Region 9. Snow Canyon has allowed fewer runs and scored 51 more than anyone else in regional play.
Should the Warriors make a deep run in the state tournament, Herman will be the central figure in why.
“It’s senior year,” Herman said. “We missed last year, so it’s just that much sweeter.”
Herman’s 44 strikeouts are tops among Region 9 pitchers by 14. He’s faced only 79 batters in his starts, meaning he’s striking out more than half of the opponents he faces. He’s thrown only .2 regional innings fewer than leader Josh Wright of Hurricane, who has done so in two more games played.
He’s been good before, even throwing a no-hitter his sophomore season in a non-region contest against West Jordan in 2018, but has reached his own planet this season.
This season, his fastball has been working with better movement after offseason training, and the curveball has worked as a strong secondary option. He credits catcher Mason Strong with a lot of his success, but the X-factor may be his new tool in the chest: a slider.
“Brandon’s been working with me on adding a slider,” Herman said following his complete game victory over Canyon View on Friday. “The slider worked really good against Desert Hills and it worked a few times tonight, so we’re finally just trying to work it into games more. It feels good and it’s been working a lot.”
The pitch mix, which Secrist and Co. give Strong full authority to call, the demeanor and everything else give the coaching staff confidence that Herman is the guy to throw out on Friday nights in what can be pivotal series games.
Secrist said Herman’s development into his ace is exactly what he expected.
“He’s tough,” Secrist said. “The confidence he has, the way he throws his pitches, he throws a lot of strikes and can hit spots. He’s getting better on 0-2 stuff where he’s not so much on the plate, where he can put it where he wants now. When he can do that, he’s hard to hit.”
Herman gets perhaps his biggest test of the season when he faces off with Pine View this week, in line for Friday on the road. The Panthers are not only tied with Snow Canyon in the standings but also have the third best offense in the league.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.