April 22, 2024


Feel everything

Hoover has strategy for immediate game-changing impact for Gibsonburg

Gibsonburg's Nolan Hoover.

Gibsonburg’s Nolan Hoover.

Hopewell-Loudon visited Gibsonburg with a share of the lead in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division at stake.

“Any competitive person who wants to win would love to pitch in that situation,” Golden Bears right-hander Nolan Hoover said. “A lot on the line. What’s not to want?”

That says it all about Hoover. He wants to be challenged by urgency and shoulder the results.

He struck out 14 and allowed four hits Monday in a 3-1 victory. He recorded six straight outs via strikeout

“Let’s just say he absolutely dealed,” Golden Bears shortstop Tyler Henderson said. “So proud of that guy.”

He walked one batter.

“I put time into developing pitches and locating pitches,” he said. “Hard work and experience. I’ve been in high pressure situations and that helped me and gives me confidence. You have to grind out of trouble in high-caliber games.

“Everything was working pretty well. Everything looked good in the bullpen. I had some good defense behind me. That’s part of any pitcher having a good game. I knew it was a big game. I was excited.”

Hoover has a thin mustache and his beard is a little thicker. The envy of some grown men, his pitching is manicured even better.

He throws four- and two-seam fastballs, with velocity around 81 miles per hour. He adds a changeup and curve.

He’s developing a new arm angle to vary his release point. Does that make him a power pitcher or finesse?

“I think of myself as a strategic pitcher,” he said. “Throwing different pitches at different times wisely. It’s a mix of pitches in different situations.”

Gibsonburg pitcher Nolan Hoover.

Gibsonburg pitcher Nolan Hoover.

Hoover has plenty of travel experience. He’s won big games and pitched when he didn’t have his best stuff.

There isn’t much he hasn’t seen, even as a freshman.

“I’m well prepared and well experienced,” he said. “This was up there, one of the bigger wins I’ve had. Going into the high school season it’s been quite smooth. The amount of work I put in and the time I’ve dedicated to the sport, it’s not easy, but it’s helped a lot in that sense.

“I have that expectation for myself in general. I’m not always going to win, but I always hold myself to a high standard to work toward.”

That included playing varsity from the first day. Coach Kyle Rase immediately inserted him at shortstop and everyone knew he’d be the ace on the mound.

“I appreciate that,” he said. “I wasn’t nervous, but I was excited. I’ve had those responsibilities, so I knew what I was bargaining for. Making things happen early. Playing with high energy. I have good teammates. I fit into this program.

“I was kind of a puzzle piece to make this a solid team. I try to be a leader as a young guy and a good teammate. It’s a great team.”

Gibsonburg's Khartir Miller celebrates his sixth inning RBI single.

Gibsonburg’s Khartir Miller celebrates his sixth inning RBI single.

DJ Ornlef had a two-run single to drive in Khartir Miller and Henderson in the first inning.

“Tyler has been hitting great,” Hoover said. “Austin Rodriguez. Through and through, we’re a solid lineup. DJ has had clutch hits. [Monday’s] was huge. We won by two. That base hit won the game. It’s more than one play, but that was crucial.

“Our whole team was fired up. The fans were getting into it.”

Gibsonburg's Nolan Hoover scores head first.

Gibsonburg’s Nolan Hoover scores head first.

Hoover, who also bats first in the lineup his first year, doubled and scored on a single from Miller in the sixth.

Gibsonburg (14-3) and Hopewell-Loudon split two games and each has one loss in the SBC River Division.

“Whoever won this decided who would take first place,” Hoover said. “Now, both teams are in the running.”

Hoover is unbeaten in eight starts. He gives credit for his skills and success to God.

“Realistically, the truth is I wouldn’t be anywhere without Jesus,” he said.

That also says something about Hoover.

[email protected]


Twitter: @MatthewHornNH

This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Miller scores, drives in a run in Gibsonburg victory