Jason Patten, a three-year varsity starting pitcher-outfielder for No. 2 Archbishop Spalding, is helping the Cavaliers make a run at knocking off top-ranked Calvert Hall. The Cardinals, who have won three straight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles, visit Spalding for a game today at 4 p.m.
Last season, Patten led the Cavaliers in strikeouts (75) and innings pitched (47 2/3 ), and he posted seven wins. When he's not pitching, Patten is the team's top defensive outfielder.
Patten, a senior who has a 3.8 grade point average and scored 1,600 on his SAT, is headed to Radford University to pitch for the Highlanders and will likely major in business. He will be joined at Radford by three of his Spalding teammates, Paul DeVito, Jeff Kemp and Matt Hillsinger.
What has it been like playing baseball at Spalding?
It's been great. I live in the South River district and would have gone there if I had gone to public school. But I thought playing in the MIAA A Conference and for Coach [Steve] Miller would be better for me, and it's been a lot of fun.
Has the baseball team prepared you for college baseball?
Absolutely. The competition in the A Conference and all the games we play (30-plus) has been really good. I throw a fastball and slider and am working on a changeup that I will need to succeed in college.
How is the team camaraderie?
It's been great. We are like a big family and do things together off the field. Like last Friday, about 10 of us went to the Orioles-Seattle game at Camden Yards and had a ball.
How big is today's game against Calvert Hall?
Calvert Hall has been at the top of our list for a long time. Hopefully, we will set the scene for the kind of season we expect to have.
Are you pitching?
Yes, and I can't wait. It's been on my mind for quite a while, and I consider it a great opportunity to pitch against the No. 1 team. We have to play the way we have been playing. Pitching and defense wins games, and we are neck and neck with them.
Why did you choose Radford?
I visited the school and talked to the coaches and players, and meeting them played a part in my decision. They've got 10,000 kids, so it's not too small or too big. I think its a perfect fit for me.
Did having three of your high school teammates commit to Radford affect your decision?
No, not really, but the fact they are also going there is a plus for me.
Are you going to miss playing the outfield in college because you will concentrate on pitching?
Yes. I've really enjoyed playing center field through high school. I love it, but I was told by the Radford coaches that I will just pitch.
On March 28 at Spalding, you made an incredible over-the-shoulder catch against Cardinal Gibbons only feet from the center field fence and the 405-foot sign. Could you describe it?
When it left the bat, I knew I was going deep and at one point I thought about a drop-step and change of directions because the wind was blowing it. But I didn't want to lose momentum. It was moving away from me, but once it hit my glove, it felt really good. It was definitely the best catch I ever made.