For The Tribune
Sam Crick has grown up on baseball fields all over southern Indiana.
He began playing baseball in the youth leagues in North Vernon and is currently in his fourth season playing with the Trinity Lutheran Cougars.
In between, he spent several summers playing travel ball.
He said, for a long time, he has had his mind set on playing at the next level.
On Wednesday he made that dream become a reality when he signed a letter of intent to play at Hanover College.
Crick said he chose Hanover for the baseball and academics.
“Above all things, Hanover has really academics, and not to mention a pretty good baseball team so when you combine those things that’s really all I’m looking for,” he said.
He plans on majoring in business and hopes to do a lot of pitching for the Panthers.
“I’ll be mostly a pitcher,” Crick said. “Up until last year I threw three pitches, and this year I’ve added a curve ball, so I throw fastball, slider, curve and change now.”
Crick said the key to success on the mound is using the same arm motion when releasing the different pitches.
“There is a lot of deception,” he aid. “My philosophy is if I can get out of the inning with three pitches that’s what I’m going to try to do so I can go whole games and help my team win and get it done fast.”
Crick, who is 6-4, said he always tries to hit the catcher’s glove.
“I feel confident with my location, but there’s always room for improvement on every pitch, and everyone always wants to gain velocity,” Crick said. “I like hitting my spots and sometimes you can work with the umpire and the catcher, so you’ll hit a spot and move out a little more, hit another spot and move out a little more, and hit another spot. You have to engage in the umpire.”
He said most of his fastballs are in the low to mid 80 mph range.
After playing some travel ball when he was younger, Crick stepped up the level of competition once he got to high school.
“My freshman year was my first big travel team, and I’ve played on good travel teams ever since out of Indianapolis,” Crick said. “I played for the Outlaws and then the Mustangs. The best tournament we played in was called the WWBA (in Atlanta, Ga.). All the good teams, the very best, play there.”
Cougars coach Matt VonDielingen said Crick has meant a lot to the Trinity program, and he feels Sam can succeed at Hanover.
“He’s an outstanding leader first and foremost,” VonDielingen said. “He’s always positive in the dugout, always has good words of encouragement, and he’s played baseball for a long time. He’s been coached well over the years, and has a lot of good input for the boys, good senior leadership. That’s first and foremost.
“Right after that, he has a great arm. He’s an excellent pitcher, has a live fastball with movement, and some good off-speed stuff that needs a little tweaking, but he’s been working hard on it and getting a lot better.”
VonDielingen believes Crick will get some time at Hanover.
“Being a freshman (at Hanover) coming in with as much confidence and leadership ability that he has, I think will be good,” VonDielingen said. “They’re not getting somebody that is just a live arm. They’re getting somebody who understands the game, who is a student of the game, a student of pitching.”
Crick suffered a muscle injury in his right (throwing) elbow in a game at Hauser on April 8, and VonDielingen said he is unsure how much Crick will be able to pitch the rest of the season.
“We’re very cautious,’ he said. “I’m more concerned about his days at Hanover than his days at Trinity. We hope that he’s back but whatever the doctor says is what it’s going to be, and then we’re going to be extra cautious after that.”
Crick has also been one of the Cougars’ leading hitters.
“I think he’s hitting a little over .300 this year,” VonDielingen said. “He’s had key hits at key times just like you’d expect from a senior.”
Prior to his injury, Crick played shortstop when he wasn’t pitching, but since his return he has been the Cougars’ designated hitter and had two hits his first game back against Jac-Cen-Del on April 28.
“He’s played shortstop here for a long time and one a good job, but it’s all going to come down to being extra cautious because we want to see him have a nice, long future,” VonDielingen said.
Crick said he hopes to be back on the mound toward the end of the season.