Change-up for success

Published 8:36pm Saturday, April 13, 2013

NSA’s Walton rebuilds pitch delivery

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy junior pitcher Reece Walton has made the mound his home this year after rebuilding the foundation of his throw. He threw for the win in a recent game against Norview High School and also contributed two hits on offense as the Saints prevailed 15-8.

This technique earned Walton a nomination and 100 votes to win the title of Player of the Week.

Walton
Walton

NSA head coach David Mitchell said that when he took the job last year, he and the coaching staff did not know how to use Walton.

“He was kind of a utility player last year for us,” Mitchell said.

“I’ve played a few different positions,” Walton said. “I’ve played third base, pitch, left field and right field, so I’ve kind of moved around the field wherever I’m needed.”

Mitchell knew that Walton wanted to pitch, though, and last fall, they got Walton to change his delivery on the mound. He had been accustomed to throwing the ball over the top like many pitchers do, but they moved him to more of a sidearm delivery.

“Reece is not a flame-thrower, by any means,” Mitchell said. “He throws in the upper 70s, 78-79, and by dropping his arm angle down to slightly under three quarters to sidearm, it’s given him a lot of movement on his pitches. His ball actually moves like a Frisbee coming in to home plate.”

It comes with some consistency in elevation, then drops or tails as it reaches the plate.

“What that does for me is (batters) usually just hit the top of it, because when it tails, they swing down on it and they hit a ground ball,” Walton said.

“He was real successful in the fall, so we continued to work with it over the winter, and this spring, he’s done a tremendous job on the mound as a pitcher for us,” Mitchell said. “Every time he’s gone out, he’s done well.”

Walton was initially a soccer player at the ages of 5 and 6, but he quickly decided that the heavy amount of running was not for him. At his parents’ encouragement, he began playing baseball at 7 with the Churchland Little League. Though he has tried other sports, like football, baseball was the only one that stuck.

He later played with an American Legion Baseball team, the Tidewater Bombers baseball program and now is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Pirates travel team. Walton credits his parents, Ruth and Ron Walton, as the ones who have “kept me motivated all throughout, whether it’s paying to go to a tournament or getting extra lessons and taking me to a batting cage.”

His mother expressed joy in her son’s commitment and success.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “He’s worked hard, he’s worked year-around. He’s always juggling his school and private lessons and playing travel baseball as well as in school.”

Walton said his favorite part about baseball is getting the win on the mound, and that is something he now gets to experience firsthand after being willing to receive some advice and change up his game.

“A lot of kids have grown up throwing a certain way, and they don’t want to adjust from that,” Mitchell said. “Reece was willing to make the adjustment with his arm angle, and he’s become very successful by pitching that way.”

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