Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
| Courtesy Matt Thurber Murray High pitcher Spencer Downs.
Prep baseball: Murray pitcher all about staying focused
Prep baseball » Spencer Downs pushes his problems aside, keeps his mind on the mound.
First Published Mar 21 2014 08:56 pm • Last Updated Mar 21 2014 09:51 pm

Murray • At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Spencer Downs is an imposing figure.

But the scariest thing about the Murray senior pitcher isn’t his size. Or his 85-mph fastball. Or his curveball. Or his slider.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Quite simply, it’s his ability to stay focused.

The pressure of seeing unfamiliar faces showing up at games to clock those pitches — a clear sign he’s getting looks from scouts — has been the least of the peripheral issues he’s had to deal with.

Downs’ father, John, was hospitalized for several months with the H1N1 virus, several bouts of pneumonia, and a whole list of life-threatening ailments.

"It has been hard knowing I could have lost my dad," Downs said.

So how is he performing amid such personal chaos?

Well, he recently no-hit Wasatch through four innings, before being lifted by coach Marce Wilson so a younger player could see some game time before the mercy rule ended the game in the fifth.

"He has a quiet confidence to him," Wilson said. "He lets his ethic fuel the inner confidence, and it has been so amazing to watch that. He takes ownership for the game. Sure, he may pump his fist every now and then, but it’s the inside mentality that makes him fierce."

Downs has been all business. In recent months, he gave up a spot on the basketball team, then started scaling back fielding and hitting routines to work solely on polishing his mechanics.


story continues below
story continues below

"When Spencer pitches, the hitters should take note at how he looks at every pitch with purpose," Wilson added. "He doesn’t sit in the dugout, he studies what he’s going to do when he returns to the mound."

His dad’s return to health has been a big motivating factor, as well.

At the start of this season, John was transported by wheelchair to see his Spencer pitch his first game of the season. While John is still on oxygen, he is expected to be released from a care center in Murray and return home next week.

"Luckily, he has willed himself into making it to the games in person, which is another reason to give it my all," Spencer said.

The situation has certainly helped Downs maintain perspective, not that he needed it. He’s never forgotten what a coach told him when he was 12 years old.

"He said baseball is a means, not an end," said Downs. "He is right. Of course everyone wants to be in the MLB, but I’d like to use baseball as a means to get a scholarship and an education, and we’ll go from there."

For now, though, Downs will just continue to focus on sending batters down swinging, as Murray looks to not only win Region 7 again, but to earn the Class 4A state title that eluded the Spartans last year. While region play will be more difficult this year, Downs is confident that he’ll go out on top.

And so is his dad, for one simple reason: "He hates to see his team lose," said John Downs.

The bitter taste of last year’s loss in the playoffs is just more fuel for the fire as he prepares for his next step after high school baseball.

"I’ve spent a lot of the year trying to improve so we end up somewhere better than fifth in state," Spencer Downs said. "Everyone knows a state championship is gold for everyone involved. …

"I want to go out on top and make this year the year. I’ve worked hard. Our schedule won’t be easy, but I welcome what the next game holds."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.