After graduating from William Chrisman High School in 2017, Blue Springs Post 499 Fike pitcher Will Fisher took a year off from playing baseball.
He used to play for the Independence Bears American Legion team before that squad didn’t have enough players to field a team in 2018. Fisher missed playing the game and decided to join Fike for the 2018 season.
“I wanted to play and my mom was trying to find a team,” Fisher said. “She found Fike and I showed up to one of their practices and they were OK with it. It was to keep practicing and keep developing.”
He admitted trying to pitch for the first time in a year at the beginning of the season was tough, but after his pool play game against the Omaha (Neb.) Concordia Mustangs, it’s clear Fisher is in a groove. He tossed five innings and allowed just two runs on five hits and struck out six to help his team earn a 9-2 victory Thursday in pool play of the 30th annual American Legion Wood Bat Invitational at Hidden Valley Park.
“It was hard (to start pitching after taking a year off),” Fisher said. “I took some pitching lessons with Rob (Smith, assistant coach for Fike) and I wasn’t doing that well. After a few more lessons, I was doing fine.”
Blue Springs (22-7) improved to 3-0 in the tournament and have put themselves in a prime position to advance to the championship quarterfinals. Fike faces DeSoto (Kan.) SMCI today with a chance to win Pool A with a victory.
Fisher helped Fike get into this position with a strong pitching performance that saw him only allow one hit through the first four innings. The only time he got into trouble was in the fifth when he surrendered four consecutive singles, which allowed two runs to score. Otherwise, Fisher kept the Mustangs off balance.
“I think I did all right,” Fisher said. “I my arm felt good, so I was good with throwing as many pitches as I could.”
For Fike manager Doug Lohman, Fisher has been a pleasant surprise.
“He’s been an awesome addition,” Lohman said. “It was a hot day and he went out there and battled. He’s been fantastic all year. He worked hard in the winter to keep his arm in shape.”
In support of Fisher, the Fike offense continued to roll as it collected 10 hits. Blue Springs has been rolling in the tournament, outscoring its opponents 26-2.
Fike took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of two-run singles from Tommy Mortallaro and Aaron Jones. An infield error allowed Quinton Weld to score from third following a grounder from Scott Vestal in the third.
Blue Springs made it 6-0 in the fourth when Kyle Gaines grounded an RBI single to left field.
Omaha made it 6-2 in the fifth, but Post 499 put it away in the bottom of the fifth when Mortallaro hit an opposite-field, RBI single to left; Jones dropped a perfect bunt just inside the first-base line for a run-scoring single; and Ross Greco hit a sacrifice fly to center field for the final run.
“Their pitcher was throwing a low of soft stuff, so you have to go to the opposite field with that,” Mortallaro said. “He threw a lot of changeups away, so I just flicked them out there.
“We’re pretty hyped. I think we can win the tournament.”