Thursday, April 25, 2013

Henry Knight - Switch Pitching Highlights

Henry "H" Knight is having fun as a switch pitcher for Franklin High School
Henry Knight pitching for the Quakers

2014 baseball season 

In 2014, ambidextrous baseball player Henry Knight  was a starting infielder and a relief pitcher for the Columbia City Reds 16U team – in the Mickey Mantle league. He led the team in hitting and on-base-percentage, using a wood bat.
The Reds placed 3rd in the state tournament.

Knight also plays summer ball with the BBB 18U team of the American Legion League in the Seattle area. As an infielder and leadoff hitter, he helped the BBB team win their first tournament over the NW Timberjacks.

As a junior, Knight switch pitched in several games for Franklin HS - with no earned runs - chalking up a 0.00 ERA with a 12:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

If the offseason, Knight trains at Driveline Baseball in Puyallup and the K Center in Seattle.

2013 baseball season 

n 2013, Henry Knight  was the starting shortstop and served as a relief pitcher for the Columbia City Reds 15U team – in the Puget Sound Baseball League. As a switch hitter, he led the team with a .677 OBP during the regular season.

As a sophomore, "H" was a starter on varsity for the Franklin Quakers in Seattle. This was his second year playing varsity. Last year, he switch pitched in nine games as a freshman. 

Earned Honorable Mention - Metro League.

Here are some highlights of the 2013 high school season.

Pre-Season Jamboree - SS, LHP/RHP, & Catcher

Henry started out playing shortstop in the two games series. In game one, he pitched lefty and righty in relief – throwing 69% strikes – using a two-seam fastball and change-up. Pitching lefty he got hitters to pop out to second base and throwing righty he induced ground outs to shortstop.

Coach Moody had "H" play catcher – calling pitches – in the second game of the jamboree. A few fans were surprised to see him behind the plate, but playing catcher was his primary position until he was 13-years-old. He switch hit during the series,  and laid down a nice bunt along the first base line.

Double Duty - Pitcher & Catcher 
Henry Knight catching for Franklin High School
In the first regular season game against Renton HS, Henry took the hill on a wet day as a left-handed pitcher -- throwing two scoreless innings and chalking up four Ks. Then he moved behind the plate to call pitches for three innings as a right-handed catcher. 

Batting second in the order, as a switch hitter, he was on base 4-for-5 times -- finishing with two singles, a walk, and HBP. He had two RBIs and added three runs to give the Quakers their first win. 

During the doubleheader against Nathan Hale HS, Henry was the starting catcher for game one, then moved to shortstop for game two and finished as the right-handed closer. He switch hit during the series, ending the first week with a .429 BA and .600 OBP.

Playing Middle Infield - 2B, SS, & RHP
#3 Playing infield for the Quakers

Started at second base against Bainbridge HS and turned a double play in the first inning for the Quakers. Moved to shortstop later in the game and made all the routine plays. He came in as the closer right-handed, pitching to contact three up and three down -- on eight pitches (seven strikes).

Switch Pitching in 10-0 shutout  
March 22, 2013
It's amazing to think that spring has arrived  especially with the hail and snow. 

On Friday, Henry Knight was the starting switch pitcher for the Franklin vs Rainier Beach  game in south Seattle. The cold spring day began with snow and rain, so Rainier field was a mess, but still playable. Fortunately, the sun came out in the afternoon just in time for fans to watch the rival game. 

As a lefty, Henry relied on his two-seam fastball for a one-two-three first inning.

"H" Pitching Righty at Rainier Field
The first batter hit a weak grounder – like a bunt – to the first base side. Henry quickly removed his six-finger glove, fielded the rolling ball barehanded, and threw the runner out – right-handed!

Henry then struck out the next two batters – throwing left-handed.

In the second inning he gave up two weak hits, so two runners were on base with only one out. Henry decided to switch sides and throw right-handed -– to prevent runners from advancing on the novice catcher. Like a veteran pitcher, he retired the next two batters.

"Did you see that? He started out throwing lefty, then he switched to throw righty. I've never seen anything like that  an ambidextrous pitcher,"  commented the field umpire.

In the third inning Henry went back to pitching lefty and had two more strikeouts, plus a grounder that he fielded for the third out.

The switch pitching totally surprised the umpires and fans. It was fun to watch and listen to the comments. "It's a gift" one dad said.

Over three innings, Henry struck out six batters – five throwing lefty and one righty – to earn his first win for the Franklin Quakers.

Four Innings of Relief Pitching
March 29, Rainier Field

On a sunny Friday, Henry started the Franklin game vs Chief Sealth at shortstop -- making all the routine plays for three innings. Then, he pitched in relief, right-handed, to finish out the seven inning game. Henry struck out five batters -- throwing 78% strikes. One senior hitter was 6'4" 280 lbs with a full beard! The circle change kept the seniors off-balance – pulling the ball, grounding out, or swinging out of their shoes.

"H" pitching left-handed
Two Innings of Relief as RHP
April 30, Lower Woodland Field

The typical Seattle day went through three seasons – winter in the frosty morning, then fall with cool rain in the mid-morning, and finally spring when the sun came out before game time.  

Henry started at second base for the first three innings, then moved to the mound, right-handed, in the fourth inning facing the hard-hitting Bishop Blanchet team. 

He struck out two batters – throwing 74% strikes – using a two-seamer and nasty change-up. Over the two innings there was one unearned run scored while facing the heart of the order. 

Henry said he would have pitched lefty-handed, but did not have enough time to warmup, since he was the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning. He went 2 for 3 at the plate – driving in two runs on a line drive up the middle. It turned out to be a beautiful day for "H".

Sequential Pitching as LHP/RHP
May 3, Rainier Field

In the final game of the 2013 season "H" had plenty of time to warmup between innings, so he came in as a lefty pitcher one inning, then switched to throw righty the next inning. He had a great outing on the mound – throwing 90% strikes low in the zone to induce batters to ground out. 

Using a two seamer and change-up, he only threw 19 pitches over two innings – striking out three batters – to seal the shutout for the Quakers. He picked up his second win, tallying a 2-0 record for season.

Switch Pitching Stats

By mid-season, Henry Knight had a 0.00 ERA with a 1-0 record as a switch pitcher for the Franklin Quakers. Over five games of relief pitching, he recorded 15 SO, 1 BB, and gave up 5 hits in 11 innings. 

Henry is the starting shortstop for the Quakers, so he fills in as a relief pitcher for the team when needed to get the outs. With runners on base, he pitches right-handed in relief since it does not take him long to warmup. Pitching from the stretch, he recorded a 3.23 ERA right-handed.  Not bad, considering that he faced several highly recruited players on top-ranked teams.

By the end of the season, he chalked up 22 strikeouts and only 2 walks in 22 innings of pitching, with a 0.78 ERA left-handed.

Henry finished the 2013 season with a 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (22K/2BB).

Henry Knight swipes another base for the Quakers. 

Switch Hitting Streak 

Henry had a 9-game hitting streak during the baseball season. 

He continues to practice switch hitting – tee work, soft toss, hitting small wiffle balls and live pitching. He works on bunting both ways to prepare for laying down a sac bunt during tournament play.

The extra batting practice has paid off in games. Batting second in the order – facing Metro league's best pitchers  – Henry chalked up 19 hits, 16 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 19 games, with a .525 OBP. Right-handed he hit .448 as a sophomore playing varsity.

Read More

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"Double DutyRadcliffe was a star Negro League pitcher and catcher.

Photos courtesy of Linda Knight and Jerry Johnson

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