Warriors’ Michaud strong on the mound

Ty Michaud

STEPHENS CITY — Ty Michaud got his chance to make an impact with Sherando’s varsity baseball team as a junior last spring.

Michaud entered the 2014 season as the Warriors’ No. 3 starting option behind senior ace Reid Entsminger and fellow junior Adam Whitacre, but he quickly moved into a more prominent role on the mound when Entsminger began fighting what would become a season-long bout with elbow tendinitis.

Reassigned as Sherando’s second starter, Michaud responded by posting a 4-2 record with a 1.00 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 42 innings pitched as the Warriors advanced all the way to the Group 4A state semifinals, their second straight state tournament appearance.

“We probably wouldn’t have advanced as far as we did, deep into the playoff last year, had it not been for his breakthrough performance on the mound for us,” Sherando coach Pepper Martin said of Michaud on Monday afternoon.

“Ty has basically picked up from where he left off last year,” he added.

Though he struggled during a losing effort in his first start of the 2015 season, the senior right-hander bounced back in a big way against Skyline last Friday afternoon.

Michaud, the Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for April 12-18, limited the Hawks to one unearned run on two hits, a walk and two hit batters, and he struck out nine during his complete-game effort in Sherando’s 3-1 win.

Michaud, who improved to 1-1 this season with the victory, was perfect before hitting a batter in the fourth and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He also proved he could work out of trouble with men on base, as he stranded two Skyline runners in each of the final three innings. Michaud, who also had to work around three Sherando errors, left the tying runs in scoring position when he notched back-to-back strikeouts to end the game in the bottom of the seventh.

The senior said after the game that he was able to develop good command of his slider to keep Skyline’s hitters off-balance, a trait that Martin said makes Michaud most effective when he’s on the mound.

“His key is when he gets ahead in the count, the hitter better hadn’t try to guess what’s coming because he mixes his pitches well,” Martin said. “When he’s on, he’s as good as we have.”

When on the mound, Michaud tends to rely heavily on his slider and curveball, the latter of which works to complement a low-80s fastball in place of his lightly used changeup.

Michaud said his ability to snap off an effective slider or curveball is the result of working his father, Trent, who pitched in college for Shenandoah University.

“My dad has helped through pretty much everything. All pitching mechanics, everything that I have is through him,” Michaud said. “We just go through this little routine just to get the curve down. Just start off at like 10 feet away and just pull your arm down really fast, then just back it up. It’s just helped.”

Martin cited Michaud’s high energy level as one of his most recognizable traits, saying that the senior is always going “a mile a minute” in practice. In fact, Martin said sometimes that energy level, when carried over into games, can be a little too much.

“He, at times, will work too fast on the mound. He’s like a JUGS machine,” Martin said. “Every now and then Coach [Craig] Bodenschatz, who is our pitching coach, will have to slow him down a little bit and let him get out on the mound, refocus, take a deep breath, get his signal and then go to work. Sometimes he wants to toe the rubber, take a breath, get the signal and start his windup all at the same time.”

But Michaud, who cracks a smile when told he sometimes works “too fast,” said that frenetic pace is part of what make him so successful on the mound.

“I just like to work quick, keep the team involved so they don’t get tired out in the field and doze off,” Michaud said. “Then they get slow on their feet, so try to keep them all upbeat. Just try to keep the energy high and it’s worked out for me.”

The Warriors have struggled so far this spring — Sherando was 3-5 entering Tuesday’s home game against Park View — but Martin’s hope is they can turn things around by improving their defense and coming up with more key hits with runners on base while continuing to get strong pitching efforts from Whitacre and Michaud.

“If we do turn some things around, [Michaud’s] going to be a big part of it,” Martin said.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com