Brawley displays mental toughness in loss

Published 12:53 pm Friday, April 25, 2014

Tate Brawley pitched well in a 5-2 loss to Portage Northern Tuesday. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Tate Brawley pitched well in a 5-2 loss to Portage Northern Tuesday. (Leader photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

The Niles High School baseball team got a scare last Tuesday in its baseball game against Portage Northern.

In the first inning of game one of a doubleheader, Huskies lead-off batter Tommy Henry hit a sharp line drive back to Vikings’ pitcher Tate Brawley.

The fear of many was that Brawley’s right arm or pitching hand was struck.

He continued to pitch and there was no reason for concern as Brawley explained what really happened on the play after the doubleheader.

“The ball hit me in the glove,” said Brawley. “People probably thought it hit me. I’m fine.”

Portage Northern hitters probably wouldn’t dispute that as Brawley pitched well in a 5-2 Niles loss. Brawley struck out 12, walked two and allowed only one earned run.

“I pitched well,” Brawley said. “I just left a few balls up. After the first two innings, I was fine.”

The Huskies scored three unearned runs on four hits over the first two innings.

Brawley’s record is 1-1 with an earned run average under one.

“That guy is pretty good,” said Niles baseball coach Mike Vota. “He keeps the ball down in the zone and he throws strikes. He moves the ball in and out. He does what a good pitcher is supposed to do. He’s going to win his fair share of games. He just has to stay positive, be confident and keep working and I know he will.”

Brawley displayed mental toughness in his outing against Portage Northern. He was effective despite poor defense (five errors) behind him and the cold temperatures.

“I’ve gotten better when it comes to dealing with errors,” Brawley said. “You just have to keep throwing strikes and trust your teammates.

“Every time I pitch I have a blast,.so it doesn’t matter what the weather is.”

Vota has noticed significant growth in Brawley’s play from his sophomore to senior year on the varsity.

“He’s improved so much in the way he carries himself,” Vota said. “He knows how to approach situations. He sets up his pitches a little bit better. He has more maturity.”

Brawley, who owned a 5-2 record with a 3.13 earned run average as a junior, keeps batters off balance with his 86-87-mile per hour fastball, curveball, changeup and splitter.

“I’m smarter and I throw a lot harder this year,” Brawley said.

You also can’t over look what Brawley contributes to the team when he isn’t pitching. A shortstop in the field, Brawley is batting over .600. He went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the doubleheader against Portage Northern. Niles lost game two, 11-4.

“I’ve been working on both my pitching and hitting,” Brawley said. “I’ve been in the weight room a lot with (teammate) Connor Glick and it’s paying off.”

Brawley was an All-State basketball player this year and he hopes to repeat that achievement in baseball. He has the same passion for both sports and could play both next year in college.

“I’m weighing my options about next year,” Brawley said. “I could play baseball and basketball at a few schools, but I think I’m just going to play baseball somewhere.”