Claim to fame: In his second season on varsity, Dean has stepped into more of a leadership position, moving into the pivotal shortstop and closer role on the mound. In District 8-5A play, Dean is batting .278 with 6 RBIs, one home run and three runs scored, including a 2-for-3 game in a 5-2 loss to Copperas Cove last Friday.
The team has been inconsistent in district play, losing the last two after ripping off four straight wins. What’s the cause for that?
“We’ve come out and played our best most of the games, but we just got a little too ahead of ourselves, we got a little too comfortable and we shouldn’t. ... We won all the games we needed to win and then we just got a little too comfortable against Cove (a 5-2 loss). We just didn’t come out with the same intensity that we’ve always had in the rest of the games.”
What do you consider your role to be this year?
“I guess just playing lock-down defense. There’s no excuse for me to make any errors. Being my second year (I’m expected to) just step up, instead of being the one following. I need to make sure the team stays together.”
At shortstop you’re stepping into pretty big shoes taking over for four-year letterman Emery Atkisson (now a freshman at Stephen F. Austin). What’s that been like?
“Emery was a great leader and I guess that kind of is what the shortstop is, he was always the one to get us back on task and keep us together. He’s a hard player to follow up but I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of trying keep the team focused and together.”
You’re also the team’s closer. What’s your mentality when you come in to close out games?
“If we just need that reassurance, because I don’t throw that much so my arm is pretty fresh, and I just give it all I’ve got. ... Not hold back at all, I don’t have to be so fine.”
Do you like that responsibility?
“Yes sir. I like the pressure on me, (because) when I come in and it’s a close game, I can either make or break the team. I like having that responsibility because when I pull through for the team, it’s a good feeling.”
What’s your pitching repertoire?
“I have a lot of pitches I can throw. I throw a slider, curveball, changeup, knuckleball, 2-seam (fastball). I have a lot of pitches to choose from, but I usually stick to about three pitches in a game, so if one pitch isn’t working I can usually go to another one.”
What’s your favorite pitch to throw?
“The low fastball probably. Because it tails to the right just a little bit at the end, to where it puts it (just out of the strikezone) and I’m pretty accurate with it, and it has a little bit of (bite) to it.”
You can also throw a knuckler?
“Yes sir. It’s tough for them to touch, but it’s not something I throw too much in games because it’s not too reliable, it could really go anywhere. I’ll probably throw it once or twice in a game, but it works pretty well when I do throw it.”
Who’s the major league pitcher you model yourself after?
“A lot of people tell me I throw like (former Texas Rangers starter) Scott Feldman, and I like to watch him, but I really like Yu Darvish. I was going for him all the way (in his perfect game bid Tuesday) night. ... I like Yu Darvish, I like his attitude and everything.”
What do you like to do away from the field?
“I like to go to church, I’m involved with the youth at church, and I love fishing and hunting as well.”
Any particular fish you like to catch?
“I like bass fishing pretty well. They’re not as big as catfish but it’s more exciting I think. But the baseball field is my favorite place to be by far.”
What’s your next goal with regard to baseball?
“Just to try to go (Division I), to play D-1 anywhere. My goal is to play college ball anywhere, ... but I hope to eventually play ball at a D-1 school.”
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566