With the gleam of his opponent in his sunglasses and the wind spiraling through his hair, senior pitcher Drue Young swings his arm to throw the baseball in preparation of a pitch. As his senior season moves forward, Young feels the pressure that comes with each pitch.
However, that does not deter from his love of the game.
“I have always been around it since I was four,” Young said. “I loved the game growing up because it was fun. I enjoyed it, and I found success in it.”
His love of baseball translated into being a fan of the MLB. However, the Young family doesn’t all love the same team.
“I’m a big fan of the Red Sox. I think they do a lot of things well over there in Boston. My dad is a fan of the Cubs, but we don’t like them. My brother’s a Cardinals fan,” Young said. “My dad would always be watching the Cubs or we’d just have baseball on the TV. I know the Cardinals and the Cubs play each other. So there’s some bickering going on. That’s a rivalry. And I know they went back and forth last night about the scoring the extra innings. So it’s fun. It’s interesting. It’s filled with jokes and bickering.”
The origin of his love for baseball was influenced by his parents’ background in the sport.
“My dad played baseball when he was younger. He grew up around this sport. He played at Warren Central back in the day. And he’s always been a fan of baseball. He played, and his dad coached him. And then that obviously translated to me and my brother. My mom was a softball player when she was younger,” Young said. “She met my dad and got married to my dad and then had me and my brother. Both of them having at least a little bit of background in softball or baseball influenced my brother and I. I know for a fact my dad wanted me and my brother to both be baseball players.”
The love of the game and his family’s influence inspired him to play, but what he said improved his skills was playing on summer teams.
“Last summer, I played for the Mustangs up in Westfield, and my coach is a Kansas City Royals scout and he really helped me kind of find my niche for baseball.”
But long before the summer of 2020, Young had influences that inspired him to grow as a player.
“I had a coach when I was like 11. He was my coach from when I was 9 to 12. I call him Coach Tim, and he really supported me with pitching and kind of helped me find my love for pitching,” Young said. “After my 12U season he passed away, so that was kind of my motivator who kind of helped me find my love for pitching.”
However, in his freshman and sophomore years of high school, Young took up another sport. He started wrestling, a sport he had tried when he was younger, after rediscovering it by watching videos and clips.
“I was wrestling over the winter and I was not able to focus on baseball and get better like I did during the winter of my junior and senior year,” Young said. “I just wanted to be a leader on that team. When I struggled that year, I wasn’t too strong mentally so I did not lead very well. And that kind of didn’t really work once I got to high school because I needed to be putting in the work over winter and fall for baseball to translate into the spring and summer because you can’t just go dry into the spring and summer.”
After his sophomore year, Young decided to quit wrestling to once again focus solely on baseball. Juggling one sport in the winter while training for another sport in the spring took away from his ability to focus on baseball. Young said he did not live up to his own expectations his sophomore year, so he stepped back to focus.
“For taking steps to get better, it all started immediately after that spring season. I was constantly working out and working with pitching. Junior and senior year I became a pitcher only. Becoming a better pitcher just takes time and since I started working to improvise the craft after that season, I have been able to slowly become better as time goes on.”
The decision to return fully to baseball was satisfying for Young.
“Whenever I decided to drop wrestling, it felt really good,” Young said. “I mean, for one, I got to eat. I just, I really like I felt free. I felt excited and happy and I was genuinely pumped to be able to actually focus on one thing.”
Young started immediately working out and started working on his pitching. In his first game of the 2021 season, Young put up 10 strikeouts against Columbus East which resulted in a 17-0 win for the Trojans.
“We call it the grind, for pitching. That really started, I would say in my junior year. It started then and I worked with a pitching coach named Jay Lehr up at Pro-X in Westfield and he gave us some drills for our lower half mechanics. He helped me develop some different pitches, he helped me mentally, he helped me physically as well, just overall,” Young said. “All of the drills that he has us do really just kind of helped me out and really helped me with the, so to speak, grind.”
Since making the switch to pitching full time, Young has developed a love for being on the mound.
“It’s exciting. It’s definitely my favorite thing to do ever. It’s so much fun,” Young said. “I think about situations, who I need to communicate with and what role I have to play when and if the ball is put into play. Other than that, I get my sign, and then I really don’t think. I think it’s good that I don’t because if I am thinking a lot I don’t pitch well. There’s certain skill sets in baseball that must be perfected to be a very successful baseball player. I think that’s my favorite part of the game because when the season comes and you’re doing well and doing these things right, you know you worked hard.”