LONE GROVE — Discontentment drives him.
A junior season in which Ty Crenshaw said he underachieved fuels his drive.
A member of the Ardmore Cardinals, and a senior at Sulphur, Crenshaw is his own biggest critic.
“I just wanted to get better, work on my game and maybe get me to the next level,” Crenshaw said. “This year, pitching-wise, I didn’t do good in high school. I’ve kind of came out and done pretty decent this summer.
“I feel like I’m progressing.”
He pitched 39 2/3 innings in 11 games. His 6-1 record led the Bulldogs, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio was slightly greater than 2-to-1. The 23 earned runs allowed gave him a 4.06 ERA.
He wasn’t fully healthy during the high school season, said Sulphur coach Corey Cole.
“He broke his right collarbone twice: during Sulphur’s Week 1 football game and right before Christmas.
“He’s not going to tell anybody that,” Cole said. “That truly affected him. That’s why I love Ty Crenshaw. He makes no excuses. He’s never going to brag about himself. It’s always about his team.”
Crenshaw, a Bulldogs’ pitcher and infielder, plays the same positions with the Ardmore Cardinals, the American Legion team sponsored by American National Bank.
Counting college kids as Cardinals teammates, Crenshaw sees where he wants to be in fall 2015.
Cade Clay, an infielder at Southeastern, pitches to Cade Carter, who redshirted last season at Murray State College. Clay is a Rattan alum, while Carter graduated from Colbert.
On June 17 against the Ada Braves, Clay’s curveball earned a lot of praise from his teammates. Working the final two innings, he struck out the first five hitters he faced.
“It’s his best pitch,” Carter said. “He doesn’t throw necessarily 88 mph. He’s in the mid-to-lower 80s. It’s a good hook. It really keeps them off balance. He can throw that for a strike after strike after strike.
“In high school, that was his pitch, too,” Carter said of Clay’s curveball. “He worked off that. We played him a couple times, he pitched against us and he was really curveball-heavy. He really kept us off balance.”
Crenshaw says the pair gives him pointers.
“I just feel like they give me some kind of confidence,” Crenshaw said. “They just kind of help me out a lot.
“I try to learn more to help more (for) next season, and then try to continue my career after that. I think they help.”
That breaking ball is “most definitely” a pitch Crenshaw could emulate, Carter said.
“Watching him, you can really get a feel for that.”
Crenshaw’s own curveball is of high quality, too.
“He can throw it in any count,” Cole said. “When you have command of your curveball like that, and Ty does, it’s easy to call a game. I’ve seen it several times: He throws curveballs on 3-0 and 3-1. He has confidence, and we have confidence. It is his strike-out pitch. There’s no doubt about that.”
Cole added that Crenshaw could throw a curveball a couple of different ways.
Crenshaw said playing for the legion team will help him reach his goal of continuing his career.
“I feel like playing with college kids makes me improve,” Crenshaw said. “Playing against other college kids makes me see better pitching and better kids. I feel like they give me a better judgment and help me out for the future.”
Ardmore American Legion coach Greg Ferguson said Crenshaw is indispensable.
“Ty is one of them guys you can put on any position and he’s gonna be great there,” Ferguson said. “He’s just an all-around baseball player. A great asset on our team.”
When Crenshaw plays with Sulphur’s summer team, Cole notices Crenshaw’s progression.
“I have no doubt he will step up and be a great leader for our baseball program,” Cole said. “It’s his passion, his life. Baseball is the thing he loves. He just wants to play the next game. He’s just a competitor. He’s got an unbelievable passion. He will be a tremendous leader. Our kids look up to Ty because he leads by example. He’s going to show our kids how to go work every day. He’s a dedicated, hard-working guy.”
This past season, that next game infrequently involved pitching. Cole said he and his coaching staff did not ask Crenshaw to pitch much due to his shoulder.
“We were really trying to capitalize later in the year,” Cole said. “It was one of those deals: Injuries kind of held him back for a while. We just never really could get him on track.”
The college duo gave him some pointers about how to manage his right arm, his pitching arm, Crenshaw said.
“They do a good job with me,” he said.
Cole said Crenshaw is always looking for an opportunity to improve.
“He’s feeling good right now,” Cole said. “He is strong again. He looks like he did in the past. He’s finally getting healthy.
“He’s one of those guys that doesn’t come around very often. He’s the total package. He’s an unbelievable kid, has a great baseball talent. He’s going to be a college player somewhere, someday. I have no doubt about that whatsoever.”