Softball and baseball are fundamentally different games with wildly scattered standards and expectations for their respective pitchers, but opponents could be excused if they wake up on game days before facing San Marino reciting the tortured refrain of ‘if we’re facing Floyd or Bain, pray for rain.’
Formidable: Michelle checks in at 6’3,” Jeff an inch taller.
Overpowering: Bain’s fastball tops out at 92 miles per hour and Floyd brings it in the mid-to-upper sixties – from a distance at release of just about thirty-eight feet, or “close” in the pro baseball vernacular.
Befuddling: Including variations, Floyd counts nine pitches in her repertoire and Bain is currently working on several different offerings as well.
Dominant: In just eight games this season, Michelle has already tossed five no-hitters (and a one-hitter for good measure) while Jeff is off to a 2-0 start and fanned fourteen Oak Park batters in just five innings of work during last week’s 6-1 victory over the Eagles.
The numbers appear one-sided in any discussion of baseball vs. softball. Bain is limited to ten innings a week while softball pitchers can fire away at will, given that the underhand delivery reduces stress on the pitching arm.
Floyd has pitched virtually every game the Lady Titans have played since she walked on the campus in the fall of 2009 and should eclipse the 1,000 strikeout mark in a couple weeks. At press time, (the Lady Titans played last night) Floyd – a senior – had amassed an incredible, state-high 119 strikeouts in just 49 innings – or 2.4 per inning.
Her earned run average of 0.14 also leads all California pitchers and if she continues anywhere near her current pace will end up in the CIF Southern Section’s (considered the most competitive in the state, probably the nation) all-time top ten for strikeouts. Incredible in itself, but downright unbelievable when considering that most on the list compiled their numbers when high schools suited up for between thirty and forty games a season as opposed to the two dozen or so played today.
On the other side of the mound, Floyd is “helping her cause” with a .458 batting average that includes a home run, two triples and a double.
Michelle made a verbal commitment to the University of Arizona before throwing the first pitch of her sophomore year.
As a freshman, Floyd fanned 301 opponents, 248 her sophomore year and 288 last season.
While Michelle has been off the market for a couple seasons, Jeff – a junior – is being courted by “everybody,” according to San Marino High School head baseball Coach Mack Paciorek. A scout from the University of Michigan sat behind home plate during Bain’s win over Oak Park, nodding occasionally as his portable radar gun routinely clocked fastballs in the high 80s.
“Michigan, UCLA, USC, Cal, Washington, Duke, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Wake Forest, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Indiana, Pepperdine…” Paciorek included in the list of Bain’s suitors, his voice trailing off while he seemingly considered mentioning the lesser candidates.
Former Titan Jim Gott, who played sixteen years in the major leagues and now serves as director of minor league pitching development for the Anaheim Angels, says Bain is “the real deal.”
“If Jeff continues to work hard and develop, he will be a high draft choice or have his pick of Division I colleges,” Gott told The Tribune. “He throws hard and is working to make himself a better pitcher. He has a wonderful attitude and is a good listener. That’s key.”
Before reporting to spring training, Gott – whose son Nick is a starting outfielder for the Titans – spent the winter months working with the San Marino pitching staff.
“What I most respect about Jeff is he is not jumping into the circus,” Paciorek added. “He only cares about getting better. Jeff struck out fourteen batters in five innings and was in the weight room an hour later. There is no resting on his laurels. It can be projected that he can play at the highest level. I haven’t seen this type of talent since Josh Doud. That is where Jeff is putting himself.”
As a freshman, Doud pitched San Marino to the CIF title in Anaheim Stadium. Several years later as a minor leaguer in Texas, he tragically lost his pitching arm in a traffic accident.
Bain is also making strides at the plate. On non-pitching days he gets the nod at first base and is currently hitting at a .462 clip. He has fanned twenty-five batters in his fifteen innings this season – pedestrian by Floyd standards, but more than respectable in the baseball world.
Like Michelle, Jeff began pitching as a freshman – “a tough year,” according to Paciorek, during which San Marino won only five games. Still, Bain finished with 28 strikeouts in 39 innings and a fine 1.94 earned run average.
Last season, Bain fanned 46 batters in 48 innings with a 1.17 ERA on his way to a 6-3 record. All of his losses came at the hands of Rio Hondo League foe and CIF finalist Temple City, by a total of five runs.
Bain spent the summer and fall playing for an elite level club team, where he was the youngest on the roster, taking the mound against the top high school-aged talent in Southern California. Paciorek calls his ace “old school,” stating that Bain wants to wait until his senior year before making a decision on the future.
“Some people are shocked that he hasn’t made a decision yet especially when you consider today’s climate where kids are being recruited in middle school,” said Paciorek. “Jeff is determined to be the best baseball player he can be. His character and work ethic are the proof. He likes to do maintenance work on the field, pick up trash, stuff like that. He has no arrogance about him. He is getting a lot of attention, but he is just another one of the guys. Jeff is a big critic of himself and is always looking for ways to improve. That will carry him a long way.”
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