You will have to look a long way back to find a better first inning as a Razorback than what Patrick Wicklander did against Eastern Illinois on Sunday. The freshman lefthander took over in the sixth and struck out the side. He needed 10 pitches. He did put an 0-2 breaking ball in the dirt to the first batter. But that was his only ball. The last pitch was up and in to the righthander, and resulted in a weak, half swing for strike three. The thing that impressed me the most was how quickly he worked. He got the ball and was quickly frozen on the mound in the ready position. Hitters could hardly get in the box before he was given the green light by the ump and fired. That was fun to watch.
Look like he was throwing a breaking pitch at 82 mph. His fast ball hit 93. There was something else at 79 and maybe it was the same breaker just a little softer. I’m told he has three pitches but I’m not sure we saw a change-up in that inning.
Ok, he’s mortal after all. After getting a weak foul pop out to open the seventh, Wicklander did give up a single. It was a reach for a grounder through the right side with one out in his second inning. He struck out the lefty Kerrigan with a 93 mph fast ball.
Okay, when it comes to Wicklander, color me impressed. Kostyshock pitched well in the game. I suspect the decision of whether to start Wicklander came down to one is a freshman and the other is a veteran who does not need his confidence damaged. Speaking of freshmen, Casey Martin is looking like a freshman at times this year, especially in the field. I am sure he will get it figured out.
While Wicklander impressed me with his command and poise I was equally impressed by the poise shown by all 3 of the other starters. The pitching will get better just like the bats as the weather warms up.