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Overlooking this young pitcher turned out to be a mistake

Published on: May 11, 2016

By PENNY FLETCHER

Cameron University. There has been little change in JT’s windup and delivery over his baseball career, as shown in this series of photos.

At Cameron University. There has been little change in JT’s windup and delivery over his baseball career, as shown in this series of photos.

Jackson “JT” Tetreault, son of longtime South County tennis pro Curt Tetreault, is making an impact on the mound pitching for Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.

Cameron’s head baseball coach Brady Huston, says JT will play a major part in next season’s starting pitching staff — an honor usually earned by seniors — even though JT will only be a sophomore.

I asked his father how this could be.

Tetreault explained.

“JT was fortunate to be part of one of the best seasons Cameron has ever had. The school was ranked nationally as high as No. 10, and started the season with an 11-0 record,” he said. “With four senior starting pitchers and JT as a freshman relief pitcher, he had a 3-1 win/loss record, with 19 innings pitched and 19 strikeouts.”

In a game against the Lone Star State Conference Leader, Anglo State University, JT struck out four of the six batters he faced, and touched 94 mph on his fastball pitch.

“Cameron’s head coach says JT will play a big part in next season’s starting pitching staff. He throws an ‘easy’ 91-93 mph, and has a 95 mph arm in him,” Tetreault added.

Now until this point, I did not know that research shows that Major League Baseball starting pitchers No. 1-63 have an average fastball of 90 to 95 mph. If JT is already reaching these velocities at 19, there is no telling where he will go.

Lennard High School.

Lennard High School.

When this season is over, JT will head to Saskatchewan, Canada, to play summer ball with the Canadian Baseball League.

“It seems like just yesterday that JT was playing in the East Bay Little League,” Tetreault said.

But JT’s journey did not start out victoriously. Many obstacles were to be overcome.

He was not noticed as an athlete in his freshman and junior years at Lennard High School, Tetreault said, “so he played on the AAU travel team as an alternative, and eventually played for Lennard in his senior year. But college scouts do their picking in the junior year, and he was too late.”

While at Lennard, however, he earned the “Most Valuable Player” in tennis as well as the “Most Outstanding Baseball Pitcher” award his senior year.

JT now is one of only 2,300 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) D1 and D2 (top two number of scholarships awarded) baseball players in the U.S. competing; with 482,629 high school baseball players in the country with only 55,410 playing collegiate baseball in all divisions.

That makes him one of the four percent of all the collegiate baseball players in the country.

With little or no help to make the phone calls and connections to collegiate programs, Tetreault and his baseball coaching friend Derrick Key, whose son Devon also played NCAA ball, went to work, formulating a game plan.

During this time, Tetreault met with an accident that hospitalized him a long time and left him on disability. Suddenly money for college became tremendously important.

East Bay Little League

East Bay Little League

“JT missed the Bright Futures Scholarship by one-one-hundredth of a point,” Tetreault said, “so it was urgent for us to consider the scholarship amounts being offered.”

And that’s how a local Florida-boy ended up playing for Oklahoma.

JT turned down 17 programs ranging from junior college to NCAA D1 schools before landing a perfect fit at Cameron University.

He was offered a substantial baseball scholarship — sight unseen — based on his numbers, videos, and the fact Florida is known for turning out some high- quality players.

When I asked JT his first reaction to being so far away from home, he said, “Wow, these guys are monsters,” referring to the size of the players. “They all wear belt buckles, cowboy hats, drive pickup trucks and do two-step dancing.”

His dad laughed and said he would buy him a belt buckle, a cowboy hat, and it’s up to his uncle (with whom he is staying) if he wants to buy a pickup for him to drive.

“I can’t help him with the dancing. He’s on his own there,” Tetreault said.

He might have just barely missed the Bright Futures, but JT Tetreault’s future as a pitcher certainly looks bright.

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