By MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Charlie Case tries not to dwell on it too much, but he’s got a good thing going.
The Bishop Kelley left-hander has never lost a varsity pitching start. He was 5-0 as a junior and is 7-0 as a senior, heading into Class 5A postseason play.
“It’s always on my mind, but I don’t want to get the big head,” he said. “It would be nice to keep it going, but I’ve just gotta keep my head right and keep throwing good pitches.”
Kelley coach Brian Begnel said Case has always been good and he’s gotten better this season by working with the Comets’ first-year pitching coach, Mark Redman.
“Redman’s helped a lot of our pitchers and I think that’s why we’re hosting a regional this year,” Begnel said.
Claremore plays McAlester at the Comets’ diamond and Kelley plays OKC Southeast at Cascia Hall in first-round games at 11 a.m. Thursday. The winners play at 1:30 p.m. and the losers play at 4.
Other 5A tournaments open at Collinsville, Skiatook and Pryor, while 6A tourneys unfold at Bixby and Jenks, and the Owasso regional heads into its second day.
Redman, a San Diego native and a 10-year major league veteran, volunteered his time because his son, Jordan, is a freshman in the Comets’ program.
Redman knows pitching. He starred for the University of Oklahoma’s 1994 collegiate national champs, was a first-round big league draft selection in 1995 and pitched for the Miami Marlins’ 2003 World Series championship team.
He has helped Case put more zip on his fastball by not trying so hard.
“Kids are always trying to overthrow, but you can’t max out on every pitch or you wouldn’t last very long,” he said. “We also know that when you’re loose and relaxed, you actually throw harder and your ball has movement.
“We’ve gotten Charlie to tone it down and worry about hitting locations and working ahead in the count and setting up hitters to use his off-speed pitches.”
Case throws in the low- to mid-80s and has “excellent” command of his curveball, Begnel said, able to throw it for strikes or make hitters chase by throwing it out of the zone.
Redman has added to the quiver by helping Case develop a slider and a one-seam sinker that dives 3 to 4 inches as it reaches the plate.
Case’s first varsity start was a five-hitter in a 3-0 district win at Broken Arrow last year.
This year’s highlights include a one-hitter at Owasso in the Nike Pro/Class Classic and a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts at Pryor last week, helping the Comets clinch second place in District 5A-3. He needed only 84 pitches to beat the Tigers.
Case signed with Independence (Kansas) Community College and Begnel like his upside.
“Redman thinks he’s a Division I pitcher. We’ll see what comes from that,” Begnel said. “I think he’s gonna throw harder in college. Charlie’s gonna grow and fill out a little. He’s just played baseball here and hasn’t lifted a lot of weights. When he does that, I think he’ll do a lot better.”