Hurricane hurler brings heat, heart to the mound in each outing
In the heart of baseball’s postseason, Hurricane High School senior Garrett Gress plays each game with intensity, not because each contest may be his last, but it’s the mark that makes him successful.
Gress pitched in all three of the Redskins’ Class AAA Region 4 Section 2 tournament games to help Hurricane advance to the regional tournament against Ripley, and as Gress takes the mound each time, he needs no help finding motivation.
“He gets really, really intense,” Sutphin said. “He is a fun kid to coach. He really enjoys competition and he’s always striving to be better the next time out, and I think that’s kind of the mark of him.”
That attitude extends into all forms of competition, Gress said, and one he developed after his father.
“I’m extremely competitive,” Gress said. “I want to win everything, even if I’m playing with my little brother in the driveway playing basketball. I’ve always been that way, and I would say that’s coming from my dad. He was an athlete coming up, so he’s always been competitive with me and instilled that drive in me.”
Gress first made his mark with Hurricane’s varsity baseball program his sophomore year after sustaining a hairline fracture in his foot and two stress fractures, which ended his cross country career. After trading his running spikes for baseball cleats, Gress tackled the weight room, where he added strength and consequently improved his baseball abilities.
“Lifting was a big part for me, just getting stronger from where I started playing varsity as a sophomore,” Gress said, “and that’s just been a big part of it adding velocity and being able to hit the strike zone better, because of strength.”
Rather than try to overpower hitters, Sutphin said Gress utilizes pitch location to his advantage.
“Above all else, he’s a strike-thrower,” he said. “He averages about one walk per seven innings. He gets a lot of ground balls. He can be a power pitcher. He struck out well over a hitter an inning, but his game is he gets outs and our team generally plays well behind him.”
Gress, too, takes pride in his ability to locate and alter his pitches.
“My fastball is probably about average, but I try to hit my spots low and stay in the strike zone, which makes you effective,” he said. “Any time I can maybe grip a ball different or find a different way to throw it and get more movement, that’s always a good thing. The more movement I can get on my ball, the better because that’s the way I like to pitch.”
And while each game may mark his last, Gress said he and the Redskins remain intently focused.
“You can’t really think about that,” he said. “We just have to go out and play like we have all season and win. You can’t get too emotional over it and you just have to go out and play your brand of ball.”