Spring Grove senior Levi Krause did it all for Spring Grove this season. Even more than he expected.
He hit .397 at the plate and also went 4-2 on the mound with a 1.43 ERA en route to being named The Evening Sun's Baseball Player of the Year.
As a three-year varsity performer, Krause has always been steady at the plate, but it was his performance on the mound that surprised even him.
With fellow senior Trevor Troxel unable to pitch for the bulk of the season, Krause knew that he would see a spike in innings. Despite an arm injury of his own in the fall, Krause was ready for the new role when the season came around. The only problem was, in practice and scrimmages, he was getting rocked.
"I was getting destroyed," he said. "Even in practice my team was rocking me, so I didn't have a lot of confidence heading into the first game."
In the first game of the season against Solanco, the Rockets gave up seven runs in the top of the fifth and Rockets head coach Eric Zeigler made a trip to the mound to make a pitching change. The new pitcher -- Krause.
"My first thought was, 'Dude you have been getting rocked lately. You are going in, what are you going to do,'" Krause said. "I came in and shut the door down and after that game I asked coach why he put me in and he told me that I have been playing varsity for three years. ... He had confidence in me and that put confidence in myself and then for there on out I gained more and more confidence."
Krause attributes the key to his successful season to his development of a circle change. As the season progressed, that became his out pitch.
"I was really about to gain control of the change this year," he said. "I had never thrown a change-up before this year. Once I got my arm slot and timing down, it all fell into place."
The Rockets head coach was equally impressed with his senior's performance on the mound this season.
"He learned a lot more how to pitch and what pitch to make in certain situations," Zeigler said. "He isn't a power pitcher but more a finesse pitcher. He went out there with the mindset of this is how I am going to pitch certain people and typically he was able to go out and execute it."
Offensively, Krause attributes much of his success to the ability to work out at the Gold Glove Sports Academy, which is co-owned by two Spring Grove assistant coaches, Matt Spangler and former Baltimore Oriole Chris Hoiles.
"We pretty much had access to the facility whenever we wanted, so I used it a bunch to get my swing down and improve all aspects of my game," Krause said. "I also was in a lifting program that improved my strength overall to help me in the long run."
Because teams were so familiar with Krause, very few of them gave him anything to hit unless they had to. Krause said he walked 12 times in the first four games.
"Coach told me coming into the season that I wasn't going to get much to hit," he said. "When I saw a good pitch, I got at it because I knew I wasn't going to see too many more. My power numbers were down this year but I had quite a few extra-base hits."
As impressed as Zeigler was with Krause's performance on the mound, he was equally, if not more impressed with his approach and maturity at the plate.
"I saw tremendous maturity as a hitter and a real understanding of the situation from him this year," Zeigler said. "He understood that he needed to hit the ball where it was pitched and not try to pull everything. He learned how to hit the way people were pitching him."
Krause will now take his game to California University of Pennsylvania. He plans to spend the remainder of his summer lifting and getting in shape so that, come fall ball, he can showcase his skills.
"I am ready," he said. "I am excited and looking forward to something new but I am really going to miss these guys. They are like brothers to me. I have had some of the best times of my life with them."