Owls cashing in behind ace Peters


The first-game jitters are expected.

Toss them aside and Westminster junior pitcher Mike Peters has felt as much at home on the mound this season as he does at his own dinner table.

His "family" has provided him with plenty of support both offensively and defensively, enabling him to go 5-0 and help lead the No. 9 Owls to an 8-0 start.

Peters talks pitching like a veteran at the varsity level, but aside from a couple of spot starts last season, he's just getting started.

Westminster co-coaches Carl Rihard and Guy Stull have always relied on a No. 1 guy to send to the mound in a big game.

Last season, it was senior Jeremy Robinson who carried the load. This year, it's been Peters who has taken charge with a mix of sliders, curves, change-ups and fastballs that have kept hitters guessing.

Remember those opening-day butterflies? Peters went all seven innings against Centennial, allowing just one single and striking out 11 in a 2-0 win. In his next five starts, he's added four more wins, pitching 26 innings and allowing just six earned runs. Four of those runs came in a no-decision against Linganore.

Peters puts the individual stats aside, credits his teammates for much of the Owls' success and has kept the season in perspective.

"We're real happy with the way things have gone. But the way we see it, there're a lot more games to be played and a lot of tough teams left. We're not thinking about regionals or states right now, just getting ready for the next game," he said.

"We have a great bunch of guys and it's fun just being on the bench listening to the different conversations going on. It's a neat atmosphere and I can't say enough about the team."

He uses the same kind of simple logic to get batters out.

"If you can get the batter thinking, you can get him off-balance," he said. "I think the game is 90 percent mental and 10 percent talent. Friday [against North Carroll], I got into a groove where I felt I could blow it by everyone and I don't have a real fast fastball. I just had so much confidence built up."

Peters has been in a groove the entire season with the exception of the cold day against Linganore.

"This year coming in we knew he was going to be our best pitcher and we'd be throwing him against the best teams," Rihard said.

"He's got good velocity and changes speeds very well. He really keeps the batters off-balance. We've hit well behind him and he's kept the run total down. We've also played some pretty good defense."

Peters has had the luxury of working with a lead for much of the season with the Owls averaging close to nine runs.

"As a pitcher, it's good to know you have a good hitting ballclub," Peters said. "If you get behind a couple of runs, you know you can get those runs back. We've just been ahead so much this year."

It was Peters' bat that first got the coaches' attention last season. When regular center fielder Steve Mays went down with an injury early, Peters got a chance to play every day and responded with a .330 batting average.

This season, he's helping his own cause and the rest of the Owls pitchers with a .333 average, eight runs scored and six RBIs.

When asked if he would prefer to knock in the winning run or provide the Owls with a shutout on the mound, Peters quickly responded: "Both if I could."

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