By Savannah Pullin
He holds multiple spots in the Baylor record books.
If you don’t know who he is, you probably will by the end of tonight. Junior left-handed pitcher Josh Turley is set to start for the Bears tonight as they open their season against Oral Roberts at 4:05 p.m. at Baylor Ballpark.
Turley, who started playing baseball at age four or five — he can’t remember the exact year — said he has always loved being outside. He never wanted to be inside, and always tried to find some way to get outdoors.
Like most other little boys who love being outside, he wanted to play every sport possible, as if he wanted to become a miniature Jim Thorpe.
“As a kid you kind of want to do it all,” Turley said. “I actually got to pitch my first time when I was 11 years old, and it kind of took off from there.”
Few are so fortunate to be able to play the game they loved as a child and turn it in to a college career. Turley has been able to do just that, and now he is suiting up in hopes of being the Bears’ ace pitcher this season.
“We have a number of options on starters,” head coach Steve Smith said. “There may be some growing pains as they try and get comfortable and settled in, but we’ve got some capable guys and they’re extremely hard working.”
Turley’s hard work has paid off. He has now been called to fill the shoes of former Baylor pitchers whose talent sent them to the major leagues.
Last season he had 14 starts, after making the transition from the bullpen.
This season he will be expected to make many more. Luckily, he seems to enjoy that role.
“I prefer starting simply because you’re in the mindset of being a big-time player and having a big-time effect on the game,” Turley said.
Being a starting pitcher allows him to get into a routine. In the bullpen, he never knew when he would be called in.
After taking the fall off, Turley has been working hard to make sure he is able to step on the mound and light up the hitters. He said he has been focusing on regaining his strength and getting his arm back in shape.
So what demonstration of skill should Baylor baseball fans be expecting from the kid who gets teased by his teammates for having so many different pitches?
“I’ve always thought the best pitch in baseball is a change-up because it looks so much like a fastball that a hitter’s eyes will light up when they see it,” Turley said.
He has also had a little fun in the off-season discovering his knuckleball.
“It’s fun to show it on occasion because no one expects a lefty to throw a pitch like that,” he said.
As he prepares for opening day, Turley knows training and coaching will only get him so far. He personally prepares himself, but knows he must also focus on the team as a whole.
“I think it’s more mental than anything,” Turley said. “You just have to get yourself ready for what’s in store for this team and what you want to accomplish as a team.”
In any sport, the first game of the season is full of mixed emotion for both the players and the fans. For Turley, he’s just excited to get out there and play ball.
“There are always a few nerves for everybody, but I think it’s just more anticipation. I wouldn’t call it nervous,” Turley said.
He said he isn’t nervous, because he knows he’s good. You have to be good to play college ball.
And as he steps on to the mound for the first time this season, his mindset will be simple. Almost too simple — just play the game.