There’s a certain attitude that comes with being a team’s ace on the mound.
Some call it swagger, a cool hand, or maybe just poise under pressure.
Whatever the label, Panther Creek (6-9) right-hander Koen Moreno’s got it. And he’s just a freshman.
“He’s our No. 1 guy,” Catamounts head coach Dan Hall said after Moreno tossed a five-inning, one-hitter in a 14-1 win over Apex Friendship on April 7. “He’s a freshman who has a pretty good changeup that sets up his fastball really well. He’s a young guy who is just going to continue to get better.”
Senior catcher Rei Morales has seen Moreno mature fast in the role from his spot behind home plate.
At the beginning of the year, there were times of wildness. Times where the right decision wasn’t always second nature for the pitcher.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement,” Morales said. “At first, he was kind of wild. But he found the plate and has found success. He follows me out there and has done well.”
The change has been, Morales added, a dramatic one.
“He doesn’t feel pressure,” he said. “Koen is one of the better go-to guys I’ve seen. And that’s as a freshman.”
“I mean there’s really not that much pressure,” he said. “You just go out there and do your job – throw strikes and help the team as much as you can.”
Moreno said he has a favorite pitch.
“My fastball is my go-to, definitely,” he said. “But my changeup, it helps out a lot. It keeps batters off balance out there.”
He also gets better as the game progresses. Against Friendship, he walked a few early and hit a batter. But he finished strong, striking out four in the final two innings.
“Yes, as the game goes on you get more used to the mound, how the umpire is calling it and how I’m throwing it,” Moreno said. “You get more comfortable.”
Which is how the team feels when the frosh is on the mound, Hall said.
“Our guys are just really confident when he’s on the mound,” the coach said. “They always play great defense for him.”