Co-players of the year

Published 12:50 pm Saturday, July 3, 2010

United South Central’s Nick Fure has a hard time deciding if he’s a better pitcher or hitter.

“I’m a better pitcher, I guess,” he said after a long hesitation.

That would be a tough question for anyone to answer, especially since the right-hander batted .431 with 27 RBIs and four home runs and his earned run average was 2.46 this season.

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Fure led USC to a 14-10 record this season, and a late run in the Section 2A Tournament, an experience he shared with familiar friends.

“I’ve played with a lot of them since third grade,” said Fure, of his teammates. “We’ve all been together since seventh grade.”

Predictably, Fure closest relationship is with his catcher, A.J. Dreyer, a player who’s going to be his roommate at Century College in White Bear Lake this fall.

“Whenever I’m struggling he comes out to tell me to relax, take a deep breath,” Fure said. “I try to play catch with him, too.”

Fure says communication is also key in not only his relationship with Dreyer, but being a successful pitcher.

“There’s got to be good communication with me and my catcher,” he said. “I like to hit that outside corner and get up in the count. I got to hit my spots or I’ll struggle, kind of.”

While Fure likes to get ahead early on the mound, he also likes to swing early at the plate, something that has led to his impressive hitting season but also something he feels he needs to improve on.

“I hack at the first fastball,” Fure said. “If I’m going to strike out, I’m going to strike out the way I want to: swinging.

When he pitches or hits well, he usually does the other just the same.

“Whenever I hit well I pitch a little better,” Fure said. “If we get a couple lead I tend to pitch better because I have more confidence.”

Fure says his most impressive performance of last season was at Blooming Prarie, where he hit two home runs and pitched a solid game. He picked up the loss, though, in front of nine errors in the field.

This summer, he shocked his coach, Pat Frank, by throwing 18 strikeouts in a Legion baseball game. So what’s there to improve?

“I need new pitches,” Fure said. “I’m working on a change-up this summer.”

Colleges, like Century, look for pitchers who can throw three pitches, not just two. Fure’s change-up would be an added third pitch to his fastball and curveball.