Wilde Lake pitcher eyes the big leagues

The Baltimore Sun

As a freshman at Wilde Lake in 2005, Josh Futter won four playoff games to lead the Wildecats to an improbable run to the Class 3A state title game. The senior pitcher-first baseman is hoping to close out his high school career in similar fashion.

Futter is 4-1 with one save this season and an ERA under 2.00. He's batting .532 with 17 runs and 11 RBIs.

Futter played football and basketball before focusing on baseball this year. He has accepted a scholarship to play at James Madison University and said he would like to turn pro some day.

With a 3.14 grade-point average, Futter is considering a major in sports management at James Madison. He plays baseball throughout the year, also playing on the Columbia Reds under-22 club team.

What is it about baseball?

I've loved baseball since I was real young. I've played pretty much all my life, and I've always had a lot of success with it. I just kind of realized I could hopefully do this for the rest of my life. I definitely want to play pro ball -- that's the big thing right now.

What do you have to do to reach the goal?

Just keeping focused, going for it and doing everything I have to. I've had to make some sacrifices -- like not hanging out with my friends as much -- but it's worth it.

What impressed you about James Madison?

The players and coaches were awesome. They have a real good tradition, and they were very welcoming. The campus is amazing, too. Right now, their pitching is pretty good, but they basically told me that I could have a chance to come in right away and play. This year, there's not one freshman on the roster who hasn't played.

What is the key to your success on the mound?

For me pitching, my success comes with my movement. My fastball runs a lot and sinks. So basically, I don't try to overthrow it.

What was it like playing such a big part in helping the Wildecats reach the state title game in your freshman year?

That was pretty cool. I still have a close bond with a lot of players on that team, and it was probably one of the most memorable times in my baseball life.

Getting out of the bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning of the regional title game, what did you learn about yourself from that?

I just learned that I could play with anyone, that I have a lot in me, a lot of guts. That really helped me a lot all throughout high school. Even when I was down, I could still look back at that time and be like: "You know what, I did that as a freshman, and I can do it again."

Do you have any role models?

As far as guys that have pitched in the major leagues, I like Josh Beckett, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. I like their bulldog mentality -- how they go right after the guy.

What's the best advice you've received?

To throw inside. If you're scared to throw inside, you'll never make it. ... It's helped me a lot.

If you weren't playing baseball, what would you be doing?

I honestly couldn't tell you. Since I entered high school -- even seventh and eighth grade -- I've always thought about playing baseball in college. I've never really thought about doing anything but that. I guess if I don't end up playing in the pros, I would still like to do something with baseball.

If you could meet any person, who would it be?

I'd probably have to say Sandy Koufax. There are a lot of things I would ask him. He had a career that kind of ended so young. You think about what he could have done if he kept pitching.

How important is the mental aspect of pitching?

There have been some times where I'll go out there and I've beaten myself before I even pitch. It hasn't happened in a long time, but there were times when I used to do that. If you think you're going to lose, if there's any doubt in your mind, you're going to lose. You have to go out there knowing you're going to win.

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