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- Steve Patterson: Keep the Change?
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- Bright Knights
Easterling's Egg-cellent Arm
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
For a pitcher, control is the goal. However, that doesn't always work out.
"Wherever the game takes me, I'm willing to go."
He grew up in College Station, the son of an Aggie, but St. Edward's righthander Brannon Easterling will never get to pitch for Texas A&M.
"I guess I just didn't fit the program there," Easterling recalled.
But he has thrown for three different Texas colleges in three years.
"It didn't matter where I went, I just want to play the game," admitted Easterling.
But the game was taken away from him during his first collegiate stop. After four starts as a sophomore at Temple College, Easterling tore the UCL in his right arm and faced Tommy John surgery, a complete elbow reconstruction.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy coming back," said Easterling. "It was just another bump in the road."
Easterling's next stop was the south plains. But at Texas Tech, his surgically repaired right arm was not right and he left after just ten innings in one season. Saint Ed's head coach Rob Penders had followed the redshirt sophomore's path.
"[Texas Tech head baseball] Coach Tadlock and I have been good friends for a long time," said Penders. "He helped us get that done with Brannon here, and he's made such difference to our program, I can't describe it."
Finally healthy, Easterling was the opening day starter for the Hilltoppers in February. He spent the next four months rewriting the St. Ed's record books. His 13 wins are a new single-season record and he's a finalist for the Josh Willingham award, given to Division II's best player.
"I can't imagine being a pitcher and being the one controlling the game after an injury like that," admitted St. Edward's outfielder Beau Rogers. "It's unbelievable."
"He's just one of those kids that comes around once in a lifetime," Penders said. "He just has this drive and intensity to live in the moment."
What Easterling has done on the mound this season would be amazing for someone without a reconstructed arm. He leads the nation in innings pitched and has 13 complete games. Just how remarkable is that? In all of NCAA baseball (Divisions I, II and III), only three other pitchers have thrown 10 or more complete games.
"The way I look at it is that I have a new arm, a new elbow," Easterling said.
He is, bar none, the best competitor I've been around as a college coach and I've been around a lot of great ones," said Penders who has coached two other programs (Texas, San Jacinto Junior College) to world series appearances.
Of the 17 games he's started this season, Easterling has finished all but four. Unforeseen circumstances kept him from taking control of his career early on, but now that he's got it - he doesn't like giving up the reins.
By Adam Winkler