By KEVIN HARRIS
If there was one thing Trent Astle loved the most during his high school baseball career, it was pitching in big games.
During the 2013 season, the Jeffersonville High School senior had several opportunities to express his enjoyment for being on the mound for huge contests.
Astle threw a two-hit shutout in the Red Devils’ 1-0 victory over Class 4A No. 1 Floyd Central in the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament final on May 11. On May 27, the left-hander blanked the Highlanders again with a six-hit shutout in Jeff’s 5-0 win in the Class 4A Bedford North Lawrence Sectional championship.
Then on June 3 at Bosse Field in Evansville, Astle tossed a one-hit shutout in the Red Devils’ 1-0 triumph over Franklin in the Class 4A Evansville Reitz Regional semifinal.
“That’s pretty much why I play the game,” Astle said about big games. “I want to show people that Jeffersonville baseball is a big deal. It’s what I enjoy doing the most.”
Those clutch performances helped Astle earn the 2013 News and Tribune Area Player of the Year honor. Astle posted a 7-2 record this season with a stellar 1.08 earned-run average. He recorded 86 strikeouts and allowed only 16 walks in 71 innings of work.
“It’s a great honor. Some really good players have previously been named Area Player of the Year,” said Astle, who was selected to the All-HHC team for the third year in a row. “I’m glad to represent my team and my city.”
Jeff coach Derek Ellis said no player in the Clark-Floyd area deserved the News and Tribune award more than his ace.
“He’s deserving of that,” Ellis said. “I think it’s an easy choice. In my opinion, he’s the best big-game pitcher in the state. [Jeff pitching coach] P.J. Thomas did a great job of developing him during his career.”
Believe it or not, neither the HHC Tournament final nor the postseason games Astle pitched were his most memorable big-game performance this past season.
The contest that meant the most to him during his senior campaign came on April 26 at Don Poole Field against Class 3A No. 1 Jasper.
Astle outdueled Wildcats’ ace Mark Giesler in Jeff’s 2-1 victory in eight innings. Astle tossed a complete game, yielding one run on six hits. He struck out 16 Wildcats.
“It was a great pitchers’ duel and it was great to beat them my senior year,” Astle said.
Not only did Astle have a great season on the mound, he was just as good at the plate.
Astle had a .350 batting average and a .530 slugging percentage. He wound up with 22 RBIs and led the Red Devils in doubles with 15. Astle’s lone home run of the season came in the sectional final against the Highlanders, smacking a two-run shot in the third inning over the left-center field fence.
“I wasn’t expecting those kind of numbers from him this season. Trent got it done,” Ellis said. “He deserved the [Player of the Year] award not only for his pitching, but what he did at the plate as well.”
Astle knew he had to increase his offensive production after Jeff catcher Isaac Crafton, who was last year’s Area Player of the Year, suffered a torn elbow ligament early in the season that ended his senior campaign. Because of Crafton’s season-ending injury, Astle moved up from fourth to third in the lineup as he hit behind the Red Devils’ leading hitter, Drew Ellis.
“Going into the season when Isaac Crafton went down, I knew I had to step up,” Astle said. “I felt I held my own and helped my team.”
Another role on the team that Astle took full control of was being Jeff’s No. 1 leader. The Red Devil standout led the team by word of mouth and by example.
“Trent’s the leader of the team. Everybody on the team revolves around him,” Derek Ellis said. “He was even a leader last year. Starting last year, he became more vocal and he was even more vocal this year.
“His work ethic is second-to-none. He’s the first one to arrive at the ballpark and he’s the last one to leave.”
The next chapter in Astle’s baseball career will take place at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Next year, Astle is expected to be a pitcher for the Musketeers, who will be a member of the new Big East Conference during the 2013-14 school year.
“I hope to pitch in some big games there, too.” Astle said. “I am ecstatic. I can’t wait to face high-level competition. I’m looking forward to it.”
Coach Ellis thinks Astle will be a good fit at Xavier.
“It’s a great academic school and Trent can get it done in the classroom,” the Red Devils’ skipper said. “Nobody is going to outwork him there. He’s going to do some great things there. They’re going to get him in the weight room and he’s going to get stronger.”
ALL-AREA BASEBALL TEAM
P/1B — Trent Astle, Jeffersonville (Sr., Area Player of the Year)
SS — Drew Ellis, Jeffersonville (Jr.)
P — Kyle Sipes, Floyd Central (Sr.)
CF — Derek DeSpain, Floyd Central (Sr.)
SS — Connor Curry, Floyd Central (Sr.)
C/P/OF — Garrett Sherrell, New Albany (Sr.)
P/SS — Lucas Barnett, Silver Creek (Sr.)
P — Mark Meyer, Jeffersonville (Sr.)
CF — Tyler Willinger, Charlestown (Sr.)
1B — Jamie Valvano, Silver Creek (Sr.)
C — Trey Fulton, Floyd Central (So.)
P/DH — Brandon Smith, Floyd Central (So.)
P — Drew Reich, Charlestown (So.)
P — Brandon Johnson, New Albany (Jr.)
2B — Tucker Marcum, New Albany (Jr.)
3B/P — Dakota Harrell, Henryville (Sr.)
C — Casey Gibson, Jeffersonville (So.)
P/OF — Jon Davis, Providence (Sr.)
CF — Logan Striegel, New Albany (Sr.)
SS — Ryan Jones, Charlestown (So.)
OF — Nolan Fertig, Jeffersonville (So.)
P/OF — Andrew Hunt, Providence (Sr.)
OF — Kyle Neafus, Floyd Central (Sr.)
C — Nathaniel Jones, Clarksville (Sr.)
P/SS — Cody Reister, Henryville (Sr.)
SS/P — Shae Durham, Silver Creek (Jr.)
2B — Cody Razer, Silver Creek (Fr.)
OF/P — Chandler Dale, Jeffersonville (Jr.)
P/IF — Kyle Kruer, Borden (So.)
OF — Dustin Cooper, New Washington (Sr.)
Nick Jones, Clarksville (So.); Kaleb Nicholson, Eastern (Sr.); Jared Sanders, Borden (Sr.); Corey Snider, New Washington (Sr.).