ON SPORTS: UHV senior makes steady improvement, becomes leader of staff
Oct. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.
UHV head baseball coach Terry Puhl isn't worried about putting too much pressure on Cory Carter.
Puhl has already announced that Carter will be the starting pitcher for the Jaguars when they open the 2014 season.
His expectations for the senior right-hander are just short of off the chart.
"All I expect from Cory is to go out there and do what he's always done," Puhl said. "and pitch every fifth day and throw a complete game."
Puhl was chuckling, but there's no doubt Carter has earned his trust and confidence over the past three seasons.
"He's our most consistent pitcher," Puhl said. "He's the one guy that I want to go deep into the game with. He'll throw Game 1 when we go out there. He'll be our first pitcher."
Puhl signed Carter without ever watching him pitch at North Shore High School in Houston.
Puhl was recruiting catcher Brandon Bohanon and at the advice of his coach, took a flyer on Carter, who had originally planned to play at Galveston College.
"I saw his size and everything else," Puhl said. "I never saw him pitch. I just offered him and he accepted. I got to see him, for the first time when he showed up at school."
Carter was unsure what to expect when he arrived for his freshman season but quickly worked his way into the starting rotation.
"It was a pretty big adjustment," he said. "We had three seniors my senior year in high school, and I was one of 10 freshmen (at UHV), and we had 10 to 14 seniors on the team.
"I kind of started in relief and pitched my way into a starter. It's been nice the last three years to be able to pitch as a starter."
Carter had an outstanding freshman season before struggling with some nagging shoulder issues as a sophomore.
But he came back stronger as a junior and earned the team's only win in the Association of Independent Institutions tournament last season.
"The thing about Cory is just the steadiness," said UHV pitching coach Doug Heinold. "He's always been really steady the whole time. He's improved from the first year. The second year he had a little bit of arm issues, but he came out of that really well. He's just been really steady for us."
Carter views the struggles he went through as a sophomore as a blessing in disguise. He emerged as a much stronger and smarter pitcher.
"I never really felt great that year," he said. "I had to go out there and grind out a lot of innings. I still think it helped me because I learned how to pitch when I didn't have my best stuff."
Carter, who throws a fastball, cut fastball, curveball and changeup, had another learning experience over the summer when he pitched for the Regina Red Sox of the Western Canadian League.
"I just went up there with the attitude that I'm going to get up there and throw everything in the strike zone," he said. "I'm not going to walk anybody and everything will be over the plate. I ended up throwing a lot more strikes and I was around the plate more and you get a lot more ground balls and you get a lot more guys swinging."
Carter took an eight-week break from throwing after returning from Canada, and spent most of the time in the weight room.
He will begin fall practice Monday at Riverside Stadium looking to get in shape for the upcoming season.
"I think coming in he's probably our No. 1 guy or is our No. 1 guy," Heinold said. "Everybody likes him and he's well respected by all the team members and we're looking at him to be one of our big leaders on the whole team."
Carter already holds UHV career records for appearances (43), innings pitched (194.2), and games started (36). He has a chance to move into the top spot for complete games, strikeouts and wins.
Carter is considering changing his major from business finance to accounting, which might require another semester to obtain his degree.
But Carter is rarely fazed by challenges in the classroom or on the field.
"It's not any different," he said. "Even my freshman year it felt like that. I got thrown out in big-time situations for the team. You get out there and pitch and do whatever you have to do to get the win.
"I've learned how to treat every outing and every pitch like it's my last. I'm just putting my all into it, and I'm signing my name to that pitch."
• Puhl said the Jaguars will practice Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m., and Saturday at 9 a.m. The team will do core work and start later on Wednesdays.
• Puhl expects to have a roster of 32 players, including 17 pitchers. The team will include four freshmen this season.
• Puhl said UHV is likely to play some intrasquad games, and could play a scrimmage or two against the Victoria College club team.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.Advosports.com.