Williams, Valentine could be key to a lengthy playoff run for the Scots
Calvin Williams is a hard-throwing right-hander with shoulder-length hair, a fiery mound demeanor, and a charismatic bulldog attitude.
Collin Valentine is a lanky lefty with a more finesse repertoire, an even-keeled approach, and a cerebral perspective on his craft.
In many ways, Highland Park’s top two starting pitchers couldn’t be more different. Yet their results this season have been strikingly similar.
Dominant pitching is the primary reason why the Scots are heading back to the Class 5A playoffs this season while also chasing another district title.
“They’re both pitching with a lot of confidence,” said HP head coach Travis Yoder. “Their personalities are different, but they have the same mindset — just to get people out and keep us in games.”
“They can last a long time because they work fast, and they’re throwing lot of strikes.”Travis Yoder
Williams, a senior, has started most of the Tuesday games this season for HP. After serving as the closer a year ago, he’s embraced his new role.
“Every district game is kind of a mustwin,” Williams said. “I’m excited we’re getting a full season this year. It makes us want it a little more than usual.”
Valentine, a junior, has verbally committed to the University of Texas after attracting a number of scholarship offers. As the Friday starter for the Scots, he studies the lineup Williams typically faces three days earlier.
“It helps getting to watch him on Tuesday,” Valentine said. “Focusing on Calvin helps me with how I attack the hitters on Friday.”
After last season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Yoder wasn’t sure he had any clearcut No. 1 starter this winter. As the season progressed, he found out he had two.
Williams and Valentine have each been so consistent — regularly throwing complete games with double-digit strikeout totals — that it’s been challenging to find innings for other pitchers on the staff.
That depth will come in handy in the upcoming playoffs when advancement usually requires winning a best-of-three series. Ben Bailey, Mac Moreland, and Preston Gamster are among the other hurlers who have been effective in limited appearances.
During a four-game stretch comprising back-to-back sweeps of Crandall and West Mesquite, for example, the Scots didn’t walk any hitters while striking out 40.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” Yoder said of his dynamic duo. “They can last a long time because they work fast, and they’re throwing a lot of strikes.”
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