Greencastle-Antrim baseball coach Eric Shaner is a self-proclaimed control freak when it comes to his pitchers. And with good reason, because the Blue Devils boast one of the best pitching rotations in the area.
But this year, Shaner made a change behind the plate, allowing senior catcher Quin Ambeault to take the reigns and call the games for the first time as a high school starter.
"He's been incredible this year," Shaner said. "This is the first year that I really relinquished pitch calling, and he has been tremendous reading hitters and calling games for us. There have been maybe four pitches all year that I didn't agree with, and he's even called some that I wouldn't have thought of."
But his work behind the plate isn't the only thing Ambeault is doing to aid the Blue Devils and their 17-1 record heading into districts. His place as the No. 4 hitter in the lineup also gives Greencastle confidence heading into big games.
Last week, Ambeault went 3-for-7 during the Mid Penn Conference Tournament, knocked in four runs and drew a walk in the top of the eighth inning of the semifinal game against Mifflin County, to get on base for what turned out to be the game winning run. He is the P.O. Male Athlete of the Week.
"I actually didn't realize I was hitting so well," Ambeault said. "I was disappointed on the day, but at the end when someone said I hit really well, I was like, 'Oh, really?' I guess my biggest hits always come when the team needs someone to fire them up, or with runners on base, and we are always trying to score early, so I knew I need to get on pitches early in the count so we can get those rallies going. Even if I just get on base I have the confidence in my teammates to bring me in, too."
"With our pitching and defense, if we can get a couple runs early it can be back-breaking," Shaner said. "Quin can hit good pitching and bad pitching and to put him in RBI opportunities is really exciting. He's not perfect, but pretty close to it."
Ambeault also called two solid games for starters Cade Bender and Derek Measell during the tournament, both of whom pitched one of their best games of the season.
Bender had a challenge against Mifflin County, facing one of the top hitters in the state in Isaiah Kearns, but Ambeault and Bender teamed up to force Kearns to go 0-for-3, including a strikeout, in the extra-inning battle.
"Cade was on another level," Ambeault said. "He doesn't have the speed, but he hits his spots every time."
Ambeault has caught every game so far this season, and through 18 games, he has called 140 strikeouts - an average of more than seven per game.
Quin Ambeault, Greencastle-Antrim
Parents: Eric and Sarah Ambeault
Other interests: He likes to play hockey and video games.
Surprising fact: Before every at bat he sticks his bat across the plate to lock himself into the moment.
Favorite team: Boston Red Sox
Athlete most admired: Dustin Pedroia
Statistics: Ambeault was the power behind Greencastle's Mid Penn tournament win last week, batting in four runs while going 3-for-7 in the two gamest ... He also drew a walk in the top of the eighth inning during the semifinal game to put the winning run on base.