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Maynard embodies role of No. 1 starter

March 14, 2016

By CHRIS PRIDE

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The week-long process for a starting pitcher in baseball, let alone a staff’s No. 1, is unlike any other in sports.

The expectations laid upon just one start a week, for some, is too much to handle, let alone the tireless, behind-the-scenes preparation that leads up to cementing a possible series win. Being a pitcher is more about remaining grounded and focused on routine.

Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) sophomore starting pitcher Jack Maynard has a style that features the passion and lightheartedness that has molded itself into a winning combination. Whether he’s on the hill or in the dugout, the Crozet, Va. native is very present well beyond his weekend starts.

Maynard’s performances at Hooker Field this season have been well worth the price of admission. His craft and dazzling command of the strike zone are unmatched in Region X, and with his sights set on playing at UNC-Greensboro, finishing a solid PHCC career is priority No. 1.

In his three home starts this season, Maynard is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.43. He has 38 strikeouts to no walks and has allowed six hits in three seven-inning complete games. He duplicated 14-strikeout, no walk outings in back-to-back starts against Louisburg College and Potomac State.

The disciplined right-hander has the work ethic needed to be an effective No. 1 starter, first-year Patriots coach Frank Jagoda said. Having a pitcher like Maynard, he added, helps set the tone for a weekend series and generates positive energy.

“He’s really taken ownership of his routine and preparation and I think that’s where it really stems from,” Jagoda said of Maynard’s success. “The easiest day of your week is the day you pitch, so he works his tail off for six days between starts and does a great job of being prepared and ready to go. He goes in with a gameplan, knows his opponents and prepares.

“When he’s on, he’s on and is tough to beat. Anytime you see players work as he does you want to see it for them.”

Maynard said the development with pitching coach Casey Hodges last season set him up for an achieving sophomore season. Jagoda said the command Maynard has of the strike zone with all of his pitches makes it difficult for hitters to gain aggressive counts against him.

The Patriots’ No. 1 starter threw his first collegiate no hitter Mar. 11 against Jagoda’s alma mater, Jamestown Community College (N.Y.). He struck out 10 and needed 71 pitches to pick up his third win of the season.

“It was pretty cool, I always wanted to do that in a college game,” said Maynard of the feat. “I think after the fourth or fifth inning I was like let’s go try and finish this and make it a day to remember.”

Maynard has developed a quick relationship and understanding with sophomore transfer Ryan Coale (Lexington, Va.) from VCU. The battery has been nearly on point with pitch location and count recognition, Maynard said. It’s been two bad innings of 31 — each on the road — that have spoiled near perfection. It’s those bruised innings, however, that keep Maynard keyed on the little things that help make him successful.

“My dad wasn’t real hard on me as a baseball player, but he always said if you’re going to work at something, work at it 100 percent all the time and good things will happen,” Maynard said. “I’ve just tried to keep following that, still have fun, but try and get better every day.”

Maynard has dropped his ERA to 4.06 from 6.35 over his last two starts. With 55 strikeouts to just five walks, the sophomore averages 1.8 strikeouts per inning. He said that in the two innings — a five-run first against USC-Lancaster and five-run third against Spartanburg Methodist — he forced too many pitches and didn’t have the same location control as he does now.

The work he does with Hodges during the week on velocity location and situational tendencies has aided him in working a lot of first-pitch strikes and the confidence to throw a multitude of pitches at different points. Maynard added that he’s anxious to produce the same numbers on the road coming up later this month at Wake Tech and beyond in Region X play.

While he has to sit back and watch the rest of the weekend, that doesn’t mean the sophomore is any less involved. Continuously, the voice of the witty and humourous pitcher can be heard cheering on his teammates or keeping the atmosphere light on the bench. Maynard said baseball is supposed to be fun, and even during his personal weekly grind, that he, too, has to take a step back and enjoy the moment.

“My whole goal is keep everyone loose and enjoying themselves, and like I said, when I’m not on the field I’m just going to have some fun and stay in the game and cheer my guys on,” Maynard said.

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