How good is Kalispell Lakers AA starting pitcher Sam Elliott?
“I don’t know,” was his quick response.
But after a second or two ...
“Good enough,” he said.
That’s putting it mildly.
The soft-spoken hurler compiled a 9-2 record during the regular season and earned starts in 17 games, which tied him with Drew Scherrer (11-3) for most on the staff.
He’s pitched a team-high 80 1/3 innings and his 2.25 ERA is second only to Scherrer (2.15).
He has struck out a team best 68, walked 26, and allowed just one home run.
“Not really,” he said of keeping track of his statistics.
“I’ll peek at my ERA, but I haven’t in awhile.”
Those numbers don’t matter to him. Instead, he would rather focus on his pitching and what happens on the field.
“One on one competition is the best part about it,” he said.
“I love it.
“One of my main attributes is poise,” he said.
“I’m a competitor. If anything goes against me, it fuels my desire to turn that around.”
Lakers coach Ryan Malmin hasn’t decided on a starter for tonight’s first-round game with the Helena Senators at 7 p.m. at Griffin Field for the AA state tournament. It will be no surprise, however, if the 6-foot-6, right-hander is on the hill when the teams take the field.
“Sam is one that leads by example,” Malmin said. “He is another one who can focus on those details and understands what it takes to win the pitch. He possesses a quiet confidence and poise that not many can duplicate in a game that challenges the best players mentally and emotionally.”
This is his third season of American Legion baseball, second year on the AA roster. He relies on three pitches — fastball, curveball and change-up. He consistently throws in the low 80s.
“More confidence in pounding the strike zone,” he said this year.
“One of the things I pride myself in is not giving out walks and free passes.”
Elliott’s highlight this season came against Medicine Hat.
“I took it (no-hitter) into the seventh,” he said.
“A one-out single up the middle (ended it).”
Winning a state championship, at home, would cap off a brilliant career.
“I’ve been through it before,” he said of tournament play.
“There will be some nervousness, but I don’t let it get to me. We’ll use the energy (of the home fans) and turn it into a positive energy.”
If this weekend turnouts out to be his last on the diamond, his athletic career will continue at MSU-Billings. The center/forward signed in mid-May as a walk-on with the potential to earn a basketball scholarship.